Having been advertised and hyped for months before its release, Mafia II just seemed to be yet another open world GTA style game. I bought GTA IV on launch day and played it for a short time before becoming somewhat bored with it. I never did go back to play it again as I just couldn’t get into the world it portrayed.
When I saw footage of Mafia II before its release I had no interest in playing it because of my experience with GTA IV. To me it was just going to be the same thing all over again and I would either become bored with the world or would completely suck at the combat and lose every mission I would attempt. For that reason, I did not buy Mafia II when it was finally released.
Then the talk started. I heard some gamers around the office talking about how great it was. I heard Xbox Live’s Major Nelson and crew extolling its praises on their podcast. This peaked my interest and I decided I should give it a shot. So I did. Let me just say that my initial assumptions of the game were way off base. I am absolutely loving this game!
In Mafia II, you play the role of Vito Scaletta, an ex-con recently returned home from a tour of duty in World War II. Upon returning to his home in Empire Bay, Vito must, with the help of his childhood friend, Joe, find some work and begin to make a name for himself.
The game begins in 1944 and the first chapter actually throws you right into Vito’s shoes as he fights in Italy during World War II. For someone who admittedly is not very good at FPS games, I really had no trouble at all with the combat in this game. 2K Games have employed the nearly standard cover system and the controls are not overly sensitive so I had no trouble at all hitting my targets.
Then Vito goes home to Empire Bay and this is where the real fun begins. The visuals in the game are simply stunning and I find myself just looking at the scenery as I walk around the large open world that has been so craftily designed. The missions in the game all have a flavour of their own minimizing the oft-complained-about repetitiveness of many games. In my first hour playing, I was in a WWII battle, a cop car chase, a visit to my Mother, performed a vehicle theft (after gunning down the gang that ‘owned’ the car), hand to hand combat, and even a stealth mission into a Federal Reserve building. The conclusion of one mission naturally leads to the next as the story progresses and I am left simply wanting more. The world of Mafia II seems very real as the environment is full of people just going about their daily business each with their seemingly own and separate lives. During the sequences where I need to drive from one location to another, I find myself obeying the traffic laws such as stopping at red lights and stop signs, looking all ways before continuing etc.
With so many different styles of gameplay, you would naturally assume that some would feel like they were thrown into the game as an after thought. That is definitely not the case with Mafia II. Everything about this game seems polished; the character control, the cover system and gunplay, and even the driving portions are very tight. It is a rare occasion that the driving aspects of games such as Mafia II are as polished as dedicated racing games. 2K Games definitely pulls this off without a hitch as the vehicles handle extremely well and respond exactly as you would expect them to.
The only real complaint I have for this game is the sheer amount of swearing present in the dialogue. I know this is a Mafia game and it adds to the realism of the world you’re in, but I just personally don’t like any kind of entertainment with too much coarse language. I often wish developers would give players the option to filter it out. This is definitely a game you’ll want to play after the kids are in bed and fast asleep!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to spend many more hours in the city of Empire Bay. I successfully infiltrated the Federal Reserve without detection just fine…now I just need to figure out how to get out without being gunned down by all the security guards!
2K Games, I gave you an hour, and I am very IMPRESSED!