Mafia II Review

Score: 86 / 100
Good: Experience old New York through the eyes of a mobster, great storyline, fantastic period progressive music, solid 3rd person shooter, outstanding period cars and driving mechanics
Bad: Extremely scripted, no quick travel, boring game elements that must be done to push the storyline, cookie cutter open-world title
What It's Like: GTA meets The Godfather in the 1940s and 50s
Reviewed On: PC

The Backdrop...

Mafia II, as the name implies, is the second title in the Mafia series to take a crack at the open-world gangster lifestyle. While some of you might have played the first Mafia, I can assure you that comparing the two games is like comparing grapes and apples.

The Campaign...

Mafia II opens with Vito Scaletta, the main character throughout the game, being thrown into the invasion of Italy in WW2. This is where he witnesses his first mob boss and gets an itch for the Mafia lifestyle.

Shortly after returning from the war, you begin playing through the later 1940s in New York’s Empire Bay. The cars, the outfits, the music, the weapons, and the environment are all spot on and do a fantastic job of getting you in the 40s mindset. But all the fun and games ends quickly after you get arrested for robbing a federal building. This is the point that you get to see, and play through, what a 1940s prison would be like.

Basically, after getting out of prison, you start playing through an open-world GTA set in the 1940s and 50s with a strict storyline guiding you through most of the campaign. The storyline will take you from working for small time mob bosses to killing big time mob bosses and then to getting your own house burned down for previous actions you committed earlier in the game.

Mafia II also didn’t leave out any of the things that make open-world titles great. Want to steal a car you see on the street? No problem, just complete the lock picking mini game or smash the window in and drive off. Want some new threads? Just hit the local clothing store and buy a new suit. Other key features include a built in cover system, a hand to hand combat system, gun shops, food shops (for health), and an entire city to explore to find old playboy playmate photos.

The Visuals, Sounds, and Feel...

With Nvidia’s PhysX and 3D vision, Mafia II comes to life in a real way. I have always wanted to live in the 40s/50s era, and this game makes it more than possible to get a real taste of it. Seeing New York, and all its glory, in that time period is just beautiful. Not only does the game run smooth like butter, but it portrays an accurate look and feel of what the mobster era was all about.

The music is also great. With soundtracks that change with the progression of time and the campaign, actual songs from the period are included for your listening pleasure. I personally love oldies, but if you don’t then this game will make for a great learning experience of why they rock.

The Disappointments....

One of the main problems with Mafia II is that you have to drive EVERYWHERE. This means that there is no quick travel feature...which makes open-world games a chore rather than an enjoyment.

Mafia II is also extremely scripted. While I can see what they were trying to do by making me clean toilets in prison or move boxes onto trucks, it was just a really unnecessary part of the game that kept happening. Mechanics like this, that include making me sell cigarettes from the back of a truck to "set up" a storyline, just come across as boring and unimaginative.

Overall...

For all of its scripted open-world shortcomings, Mafia II is a fun game. I can honestly say that I found myself playing it just to progress the storyline and find out what was going to happen next. Also, searching old 40s New York for better cars, guns, and playmate pictures didn't hurt either. If you have ever dreamed of living the life of a mobster, Mafia II is the game for you.

- Tyler Sanders

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