October 12, 2010

You Talkin’ to Me?

Lasting First Impressions of “Mafia II” from 2K Games

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 piqued 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!

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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  1. Kevin Dorff

    Glad you’re enjoying Mafia II. I picked it up as a test for my newly updated PC that finally can play games again. I’ve played through the first few chapters and am enjoying it. I plan to play it this weekend during the Extra-Life-Game-A-Thon. Although with a long list of other games.

    I really enjoyed GTA4 but I can see how the open-world-ness of it (which Mafia II completely lacks) can be daunting. I think I played most of my first 5 hours of GTA4 just messing around in the world – easy to get sidetracked. The messing around can be fun in its own right, but I’d encourage you to pick up GTA4 again and play it in a focused, linear fashion. If you JUST play the story you can finish it in 10-12 hours as opposed to the 40+ hours if spend a bunch of time messing around in the world. Watch your mini-map in the corner and as soon as you have an icon there for a task, go do that task. The GTA4 DLC (Lost and Damned and Gay Tony) where, in may ways, even better than GTA4 but it was a lot of fun playing the DLC after since I already knew the city so well. I could pretty much drive the city without looking at a map by the time I got to the DLC.

    Potentially easier to get into, although just as open world, MIGHT BE Red Dead Redemption. The really nice thing about RDR over GTA4 is that there are mid-mission checkpoints (although I think Gay Tony and possibly Lost and Damned had these, too). Nothing is more frustrating than being 90% through a long mission and having to start over at the very beginning if you die (which was my least favorite part of the base GTA4 game) . I liked GTA4 but I think RDR was better in almost every way (although I LOVED driving around NYC in GTA4). Again, if you play RDR, it is helpful to stay focused on the missions (but its easy to get sidetracked).

    • Xiantayne

      Yes, Red Dead Redemption is a fabulous game and I plan to get back into it this weekend during the Extra Life Marathon.

  2. This is very intresting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post.

  3. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

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