Mafia II

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster.

I also wanted to be a cowboy, but never a drug dealer, ex-convict, hell’s angel or newly arrived immigrant with a shady past looking to make a life for himself in New York City. What I’m getting at here is that I’ve never enjoyed playing Grand Theft Auto, I totally get that people love the series and I can see why it just doesn’t do it for me. I’ve played every single GTA game but I’ve never felt all that comfortable playing them. This led me to the assumption that I did not like open world sandbox games up until the mighty Red Dead Redemption. Like I said, I have and will continue to play every GTA game, it would be arrogant not to at least give them a try, so when RDR was released I jumped on it and to my surprise and joy I loved every second of it. This planted a seed of doubt in my mind, do I dislike the genre or is it the setting in GTA that I couldn’t gel with?

Mafia II has answered this question for me, I like this New York, I like this type of crime. I like driving these type of cars and being a wiseguy. To clarify, I really love the movie Goodfellas and that is why I feel at home in the world of Mafia II.

After the game’s initial opening is out of the way, you meet up with your childhood friend and go out for a drive. You manage to convince him that he should let you take the wheel and head off through the suburbs on your way to meet the first of many questionable contacts that you will encounter. This is where something a little odd happened for me, I drove the car slowly down the driveway and onto the busy street. I continued to drive slowly and calmly to our destination, taking corners with care, stopping for other cars. I didn’t take this much care with my horse in Red Dead!

I’m not sure why I took care of the car, I’m pretty crap at driving in games like these so it took quite a lot of effort. I think I just cared more, it was a nice looking car, it wasn’t mine and maybe most of all I got the impression that my ‘old pal’ would send me to sleep with the fishes if I scratched it!

Regarding the driving in Mafia II, the addition of a speed limiter button is a god send for the players like me. I’m impatient and without it I would have left a trail of chaos in my wake whenever I was driving. A problem I had in GTA, was that I could never get a mission finished because I would always cause some bother while driving to the target and end up with the police all over me. With the speed limiter on I just took my time, like a wiseguy would. It’s very easily toggled on and off so you can speed along on the freeway and tap it back on when back on the streets. If you’re a decent videogame driver then you probably won’t need it but for me it made the whole game much less frustrating.

The game itself is strangely linear for the genre. I’d go as far to say that the phrase ‘open world sandbox’ is not applicable. The world is open but there is nothing specific to do beyond the main campaign. Each mission leads you to the next as you play through the story. I can’t say I minded this too much, I’m not a big fan of side missions but they are a nice thing to have when you want a break from the story. This also limits the re-playability of the game as you will have pretty much seen what there is to see on your first playthrough.

So if it’s the story that drives this game then how does that hold up? I guess it depends on your taste. I really enjoyed playing through The Force Unleashed, because I’m a sucker for all that Star Wars expanded universe nonsense, and I’m under no illusion that it is nonsense but still I lap it up. Mafia II is obviously inspired by The Godfather and Goodfellas, going so far as to base whole missions on the events from the movies, but I found that quite charming. With some exceptions, each mission essentially boils down to driving or walking to a location, talking to a guy and getting into a fist or gun fight. Each of these things works well; the driving is pretty smooth but a little lengthy at times; fist fights are simple but satisfying and gun-play is handled nicely.

Ultimately the gameplay is solid, if a little uninspired, but the game is carried on its story, setting and atmosphere, all of which combine to make Mafia II an enjoyable game. A game that left me walking, talking and thinking like a gangster for a good few days. What a tit I must have looked.







3 responses to “Mafia II”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I used the speed limiter too, and for about 99% of the game. It also gave me time to listen to the music, sme good ol’ Buddy Holly on there too. As for the collection parts of the game, I picked up 4 playboys and no wanted posters, thought I would have found more. I enjoyed it, but the first game was a better game.

  2. Matt avatar

    The ‘open’ city in Mafia 2 is less of a playground and more of a sophisticated stage for the story to unfold, much the same as it was in Mafia 1. Neither game attempts to be GTA, but due to some basic similarities they are often subjected to unfair comparisons.

    On a completely unrelated note, I do miss Free Ride Extreme. That had some quirky challenges in it.

  3. Simon avatar

    Definitely getting this.

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