The sequel to the best depiction of organized crime is finally here. In the first Mafia, you were a poor taxi driver who could barely make a living. After doing a few favors for a couple of fellas, they return the favor by giving you some work to help out. The rest is history; you end up with a career working for the Mafia.
Mafia II takes a different approach. You play Vito Scarletta, a young boy who immigrated from Sicily. In search of the American dream, Vito becomes wrapped up with a guy named Joe, who leads him down the wrong path of petty theft and crime in order to make a living.
While not wanting to live the same life as his father, Vito is headed down the same path; working on the docks making little-to-no money. By listening to Joe and living the same lifestyle, Vito ends up in the can (i.e. Jail).
Here, Vito learns there is no honor among thieves and begins to understand the true meaning of honor (respect that is required to join the ranks of the Mafia). Vito realizes that prison is no place to be, but at the same time he learns a valuable lesson from a different crime family while incarcerated. Leo teaches Vito the street smarts needed to continue living the life he wants in the outside world.
Mafia II has an in-depth story that is dark; it looks into the life of a mafia foot soldier and the tribulations involved. As you work your way through the ranks, the game will become harder as you progress through each chapter. There are fifteen chapters in all, and around eight to nine hours of actual gameplay. All depending on which difficulty setting you select, the game might be even shorter than nine hours.
Mafia II is broken up into chapters; each chapter represents one full day in the life of Vito Scarletta. In theory this sounds all fine and dandy, but actually this makes the game even shorter. At first, I thought splitting things up in chapters was rather nice, but then I realized the horrible truth: since Mafia II is linear, this was an attempt at pushing the story further without just ending each chapter abruptly.
By forcing you to drive from a completed mission – and making you return home and then to sleep – is a feeble attempt at masking the linear nature of the gameplay. This is one thing Mafia II really fails at. In a world that is so vast, there is nothing to do. The game introduces other characters for Vito to work for, but you never have the option to choose when or where to do the work.
The only time you can work for these associates is when the game allows you; this means that everything is driven by the story. The first Mafia game was linear, but that’s not the issue here; it never bothered me. The story was linear, but you had plenty to do in the city of Lost Heaven. You had side objectives and other things happening that would keep you entertained for hours.
What really bothers me about Mafia II is the lack of content (i.e. side missions or objectives) to keep you busy. All you have is the main story that pushes you forward to the next chapter.
Even though the story is entertaining, I would have liked more filler. The game world almost feels empty; there are pedestrians and traffic, but it still feels very empty. You have the police, and they will pursue you if you break the law, but there isn’t much else beyond that. You can rob clothing stores and gas stations, but that becomes old real fast.
The in-game action is fun; you will encounter numerous missions that include stealth, car chases, and even tailing people. What sets Mafia II apart from the rest is how you will never really do the same thing twice. They cleverly made the story so that no matter what you do, it feels like whatever you have done isn’t complete, and everything always feels fresh, new, and enjoyable.
I simply love the cover system during combat. Once you are in a cover position, you can inch your way up a hallway without ever leaving it. You can continue to move around boxes and creates without ever losing your cover. This allows you to immerse yourself in combat; it never feels disjointed when you try and take cover.
The graphics in Mafia II are simply breathtaking; they capture the look and feel of the era perfectly. Empire Bay is one of the best looking cities seen in a sandbox game in a very long time. The city feels very realistic and the music fits the era perfectly.
As for the music, you can hear everything from Ritchie Valens to Buddy Holly on the radio as you cruise through Empire Bay. No other game has captured an era the way Mafia II has with its music. The first Mafia did a decent job, but Mafia II has the atmosphere and environment beat in comparison.
I have played every sandbox game available — and I am a big fan of the Grand Theft Auto series – but Mafia II is a completely different experience. 2k has taken the sandbox concept and reinvented it. Mafia II plays like a high-budget Hollywood Mafia movie, and if you have ever watched the GodFather and really enjoyed it, then Mafia II is for you. It almost feels like you are watching a movie instead of playing a game.
Besides being linear, Mafia II is still one of the best mafia-style games to date. If you like 3rd person shooters, or just love the whole crime drama thing, then pickup a copy of Mafia II today.
James ‘Daripp3r’ Pittaro
Platform: Playstation 3
Developer / Publisher: 2K Games
Official Mafia II Website
|Mafia II has the most realistic-looking environment ever seen in an open-world, sandbox game.|
|The music and the sound effects capture the era perfectly and are simply wonderful.|
|The story is Hollywood quality, but the linear gameplay really upset me. Not having anything else to do (except follow the story) was a letdown.|
|Despite some of the issues mentioned, Mafia II is still a must-have for any fan of the 3rd person genre. Not too many games can be linear and still have such a compelling story that leaves you feeling good in the end (and not leave a bad taste in your mouth).|