The game is notable in that it features the return of several actors from the original film to lend their voice. The participating actors are James Caan as Sonny Corleone, Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen and Abe Vigoda as Salvatore Tessio, with the most notable absences being Marlon Brando (because of his ill health and his later death, the audio producers found that the quality of the recordings were not good enough and hired an imitator, although at one point in thegame, players can hear the one piece of audio that Brando recorded), John Cazale (due to his death in 1978), Richard Castellano (due to his death in 1988) and Al Pacino (who is in fact absent in image as well as voice, due to copyright issues with the creators Scarface: The World is Yours). In addition, Mark Winegardner, author of The Godfather Returns, provided story editing and insight into the fictional world of the Godfather.
In 1936, Aldo Trapani, as a child, is witnessing his father getting gunned down on the street by the Barzinis, the Corleones' rivals in New York. Don Vito Corleone comforts the child, telling him when he has grown up and the time is right he can take revenge for the death of his father. Years later, in 1945, at the wedding scene of Don Corleone's daughter, Aldo's mother asks Don Corleone to look after her son, who has been hanging with the wrong people. Luca Brasi is sent to recruit Aldo and teach him the ways of the Mafia. Brasi has Trapani extort Emilio the Butcher and buy out local gambling baron Frankie Fernetti. He then assists Paulie Gatto in avenging Amerigo Bonasera's daughter, who was savagely beaten by two college punks, Jerry Wagner and Kevin Moonan. The two are beaten to pulps by the Corleones.
Shortly after, Luca is later killed at a meeting he was sent to by Don Vito Corleone. After witnessing the murder, Aldo escapes and meets up with Marty Malone, a Corleone enforcer. Whilst the meeting occurs, Don Corleone is gunned down while getting oranges and Aldo must rescue Monk's sister, Frankie Malone. Aldo is the one who drives the Don to the hospital with Fredo, and is told to leave by a distraught Sonny Corleone. Later on Aldo heads to Brooklyn to help Clemenza rescue the Corleone consigliere Tom Hagen from the Turk. Aldo later helps Michael Corleone protect his father at the hospital. Soon after it is New Years Eve in New York City, and Peter Clemenza extends Aldo an invitation to Rosa's for a party. Once Aldo arrives at the party and intermingle with all the other Corleone family members there, the Police sergeant Joe Galtosino puts a stop to the party, and takes Rosa in for "questioning". Trapani kills Galtosino and rescues Rosa.
Shortly after this, Trapani is summoned to Clemenza who helps him destroy a Tattaglia restaurant before he executes Paulie Gatto in a black market shipping yard in Brooklyn. With Paulie gone forever, Aldo decides to meet Clemenza outside one of Sollozzo's warehouses. They then hijack a truck, grab explosives and destroy the building in one fell swope. After this mission, Trapani is given a promotion and sent to Hollywood, where he assists Rocco Lampone in placing the head of stud horse Khartoum beneath the sheets of Corleone enemy Jack Woltz in an attempt to get Johnny Fontane a part in Woltz's new war movie he was scheduled to film the following week. For this, Trapani is given an apartment in Chateau Leive in Midtown which he moves into with Frankie.
At this point, Michael plots the demise of Sollozzo and his bodyguard, Police captain Mark McCluskey. Aldo assists him in this by planting a gun behind a toilet in Louis Restaurant then serving as a getaway driver, taking Michael to a ship bound for Sicily. He is then initiated into the family as a soldato by Michael's father Don Vito Corleone.
However, the killing of Sollozzo rebounds on Aldo, when Frankie is kidnapped by thugs and killed by Bruno Tattaglia in St. Michael Archangel. Furious, Trapani hunts down Tattaglia and throws him into a cremation oven. Afterwards, he assists Sonny in bringing down a Cuneo family racket, and later witnesses Sonny's death at the Jones Beach Causeway. Much to his frustation, Aldo is not allowed to pursue Barzini for his hand in the murder, as Don Corleone hastily calls a peace and Aldo is promoted to caporegime.
Another crippling blow is struck to Aldo when he finds out Monk is ratting out the family to the FBI. He then eliminates another traitor in the family, his friend and capo, Salvatore Tessio. After negotiations with Moe Greene have failed Michael orders Aldo to steal money from a secret casino and kill Greene while he is having a massage at Orchid Inc. in Midtown.
The peace is not held for long, and on the day of Michael Rizzi's baptism, Trapani finally achieves vengeance, killing Don Barzini as well as Dons Cuneo, Stracci and Tattaglia. The Corleone family are now unchallengable, and Aldo ascends to the position of underboss. If you complete certain requirements, then you can become Don and Don of New York.
- Marlon Brando .... Vito Corleone
- James Caan .... Sonny Corleone
- Robert Duvall .... Tom Hagen
- Abe Vigoda .... Salvatore Tessio
- Joseph May .... Michael Corleone
- Doug Abrahams .... Vito Corleone/Clemenza/Capt.McCluskey/Jack Woltz
- Andrew Pifko .... Aldo Trapani
- Michael Dobson .... Rocco Lampone/Sgt. Joe Galtosino
- Garry Chalk .... Luca Brasi
- Jason Schombing .... Marty "Monk" Malone
- Jennifer Copping .... Frankie Malone
- Andrew Moxham .... Fredo Corleone
- Richard Newman ... Virgil Sollozzo
- Lori Ann Triolo .... Rosa Morelli
- Tony Alcantar .... Paulie Gatto
- Scott McNeil .... The Trojan
- Michael Kopsa .... Don Emilio Barzini
- Bill Meilen .... Philip Tattaglia/Emilio Brunetti
- Terence McGovern .... Al Neri
- Joe Bellan .... Additional Voices
- Deborah Ben-Eliezer .... Additional Voices
- Alison Ewing .... Additional Voices
- Rod Gnapp .... Additional Voices
- Callum Grant .... Additional Voices
- Gavin Hammon .... Additional Voices
- Adam Harrington .... Additional Voices
- Serge Houde .... Additional Voices
- Damian King .... Additional Voices
- Sirenetta Leoni .... Additional Voices
- Anni Long .... Additional Voices
- Cynthia Marcucci .... Additional Voices
- Amanda Moody .... Additional Voices
- Jarion Monroe .... Additional Voices
- Joe Paulino .... Additional Voices
- Ralph Peduto .... Additional Voices
- Bruce Robertson .... Additional Voices
- Chris Robson .... Additional Voices
In the game there are five mafia families that have been adapted from the The Godfather. Each family is distinguished by its members wearing specific color coats as well as a shield bearing the family's first initial in its color with the exception of the Corleones, whose shield bears a rampant lion.
Nicknamed The Five Families, these consist of:
- The Corleone family - The once-powerful crime family is based in central Manhattan, in Little Italy, and are troubled by increasingly daring raids by the Tattaglias based in Brooklyn. Little Italy has streets of moderately poor local shops run by well-established families. Their family color is black. In the game the player meets many members of the Corleone family, including Vito Corleone, Sonny Corleone, Tom Hagen, Michael Corleone, Fredo Corleone, Salvatore Tessio, Peter Clemenza, Paulie Gatto, Rocco Lampone, Al Neri, Willie Cicci, Jaggy Jovino, Jimmy DeNunzio, Luca Brasi, and Marty Malone. At the beginning they are tied with the Tattagila as the weakest family and it's quite common for the Corleones to lose a fight or shoot out against other families minus the Tattagila which for the most part they have the upperhand. Their health bar is nearly the same to the Straccis but the damage is not that high. As the game progresses they'll be equals to that of the Barzinis in damage, health and fire arms.
- The Barzini family - The Barzini family hails from Midtown, the most lucrative district in New York City, making them the richest and most powerful family in New York. Their family color is green. The Barzinis are headed by the main antagonist, Don Emilio Barzini, who rules with an iron fist, who ordered the murder of the main character's father, and is rumored to be in control of another New York family. The Barzinis' consigliere is Domenico Mazza, and their underbossis Emilio Barzini, Jr. Their three caporegimes are Pietro Testa, Giovanni Armanno and Big Bobby Toro. In game they deal the most damage and have the highest health bars than anyone else, at the very beginning they can knock you out with just three to five punches and two to three bat strikes, making them the strongest gangsters and with the added stack of health they are extremely difficult to kill. Shooting is just as bad because of their major damage increase.
- The Tattaglia family - The Tattaglia family dominates Brooklyn, owning almost every business and racket on the Brooklyn waterfront. The Tattaglia family has a serious rivalry with the Corleone family because of their business expansion into Little Italy, the Corleone's turf. They aren't well liked among the five families and maybe even looked down upon. Their family color is tan. Don Philip Tattaglia heads the Tattaglia family, and his son Bruno is next in line to become Don of the Tattaglia family. Bruno has an alliance with Virgil Sollozzo. The Tattaglias' consigliere is Freddie Nobile, and their underbosses are Bruno and John Tattaglia. The Tattaglias' caporegimes are Tony Bianchi, Luigi Fusco and Donnie Marinelli. Their soldier is Mikey Saleri. In game they are the weakest and least influential family and so weak that you can survive multiple shotgun shells and a full clip from a tommy even at the start of the game. In fights because of their weak damage and really low health bar at the beginning of the game it usually takes you between five to eight punches and four to six weapon strikes and they don't block good. Shooting wise they're not much better.
- The Stracci family - The Stracci family is based in New Jersey. Don Victor Stracci heads the Stracci family. During daytime the neighborhood looks quite peaceful, with fancy houses and well-groomed parks, but at night, it becomes much more dangerous. The Straccis according to some associates of various families, are the most untrustworthy, cruel, vicious and said even by stronger families of holding the title of the most violent family in New York which arguably makes them the most feared for their bloodthirsty atitude. Their family color is blue. The Straccis' consigliere is Jack Fontana, and their underboss is Salvatore Stracci. The Stracci caporegimes are Oscar Zavarelle, Michael Costa and Leon Grossi, and their soldier is Plinio Ottaviano. In game they live up to their reputation and if treated likely they will beat you to death, riddle you with bullets or the most common both. They can be spotted in New Jersey murdering unknown people and can be seen getting (and always winning) into brawls with the Tattaglias on the street. If fought when barely starting out it will be extremely difficult to kill them because they have more health than the Tattagila and give out a lot more damage both shooting and fighting and most of their weapons are shotguns, tommies and the magnum which the Tattaglias don't have. In battle the are very unpredictable and crazy and at times they'll even rush you with bats when you have a gun.
- The Cuneo family - The Cuneo family hails from Hell's Kitchen. The Cuneo family is not very rich, owning few rackets and businesses. Their family color is red. Don Carmine Cuneo heads the Cuneo family. And with the harsh neighborhood they reside in and lack of sufficient funds they are ruthless killers and extremely territorial, always appearing in large groups largely due to the environment of Hell's Kitchen, which is run down and filled with poor communities making them rely on each other for help. According to certain Corleone associates, Cuneos' are trustworthy unless you mess with their business, they also never start a mafia war but they will happily end it with brutality. The Cuneos' consigliere is Luciano Fabbri, and their underboss is Marco Cuneo. Their caporegimes are Ronnie Tosca and Mario DeBellis, and their soldier is Bobby Marcolini. In game thanks to their harsh turf they are quite difficult and even considered the toughest family in New York and in hostile situations they also usually have a lot of back up. In fighs they are difficult because of the hefty health bar and they block well. Shooting wise is the worst because their damage is twice as worse as the Straccis, and they are able to kill almost anyone with no more then three to five shotgun blasts even with full health.