The Sopranos: Road to Respect

Format: PS2

4 005209 083218
Age Restrictions: 18+
17 November 2006

A mob war is brewing after the murder of the Philadelphia boss' nephew. The Sopranos crew has been named as the culprit, and Philadelphia's and New Jersey's most powerful families are about to collide. As the illegitimate son of "Big Pussy," you have been born into the organisation and now have the opportunity to demonstrate your loyalty to Tony Soprano. Starting as a soldier, players must make money on collections, protect their turf through intimidation, and gain admiration within their own family to move up in the ranks of the organisation...

The Sopranos: Road to Respect sees you playing Joey LaRocca (whose father Salvatore Bonpensiero disappeared a few years ago) as he attempts to work his way up the ranks of the Soprano family. Many people believe that Tony Soprano had a hand in Salvatore's disappearance - but that hasn't put Joey from busting a gut to impress him.

This wouldn't be a Soprano's game if you didn't get to beat the living daylights out of some unsuspecting thugs. And, unsurprisingly, that is the main thrust of the game - to beat up the numerous individuals you come across. However, part of the skill in playing this game is knowing when to use your fists and when to back down.

Before many of the fighting segments you will have to engage people in conversation. Here you have the option of being hard as nails or charming - and the way you interact with these characters will determine how certain missions turn out. For example, if you are rude to a certain drug dealer he will get his guys to attack you. And, should you finally beat them up, your partner will get annoyed that you have upset his supplier. What you should have done is played it nicely and let your partner sort everything out - this also has the added bonus of you not having to thump anyone.

There are problems with this, however. Firstly, sometimes there doesn't seem a lot of difference between your "nice" and "nasty" responses and to be honest, apart from a very few times, it doesn't really seem to matter how you speak to people.

Throughout the levels there are various items that can be picked up and used as weapons, as well as hot spots where you can perform some killer (quite literally) moves to dispatch your enemies. You also have a gun which you can fire off and kill people, or pistol whip them. To be honest, it's best not to use this too often as if you cause too much attention your respect metre will take a dive and then you'll probably end up getting whacked.

There are plenty of great little touches. For example you can listen in on people's conversations by walking up to them. Sometimes this is fairly bland, but generally they are quite amusing. The storyline is also quite engaging, but you do feel a little like you are being shepherded through the levels - there's no real opportunity to go off and explore.

This hasn't got an 18 certificate for the fun of it. There is a hell of a lot of swearing, adult content (including dancing strippers) and gory killings. There is also a fighting system hidden away in here too, which lets you beat up people with a combination of moves - however, mashing the two attack buttons is all you'll really need to easily beat anyone who comes at you. The biggest disappointment though is the fact that you can probably finish the whole game in a determined afternoon - which is not good for a £35 game.

If you are a fan of the show you'll probably find a lot here to keep you happy, just don't expect it to provide more than a few days of entertainment.

Nick Smithson

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