Review: Mafia II
Mafia II is set in 1943 to 1951 in a fictional city of Empire Bay, USA, a city so familiar with crime, you’d assume Congress vacations there after time spent in Washington D.C.. There’s definitely crime afoot in Empire Bay. The city is controlled by three families, and the question is who are you going to befriend and who are you going to kill?
You play as protagonist, Vito Scaletta, a Sicilian immigrant who doesn’t understand his father (who drowns when he’s a younger age), loves his mama, and loves making money. Vito is injured in World War II and is released home for a bit. His best friend, Joe Barbaro, is involved in the mob and does his friend a little favor by getting Vito out on permanent leave. From there, Vito slowly and surely gets involved in the mafia himself, giving you all the ups and downs of the 1940s/1950s and the life of a mobster.
Anyone familiar with an open-world game knows how the game pans out. You travel a lot, you can do what you want, and you complete story missions. This game isn’t as open as others in some regards. For instance, beating the game doesn’t allow you to just continue in Empire Bay. As a matter of fact, the only way to get back in the game is to jump into a previous chapter or to start the game over again. It feels a little behind the times, especially since the original Mafia allowed a free-roam mode. There’s really not much to do outside of the main story. The side quest you pick up are strictly just thing to unlock Trophies, which is a bummer since I’m sure the Red Dead Redemption system of hunting down criminals (or in this case, taking jobs to put hits on random people) would have made the experience a little more lengthy.
The game does go for a 10 hour run, and while the entire 10 hours is exciting, the game feels like it just ends. It’s length isn’t the only issue. On my run-through, I played on hard mode and really, the game is quite easily beaten in this mode. Sure, I died a few times, but it really never even turns into a challenge until the last three chapters of the game. The cops are completely pointless in the game. They’re idiots. They loose you at any turn, they hardly put any pressure on you, and it feels like 2K Czech wanted the game to be ‘fun’ instead of a challenge. The cops rarely pull you over for anything, which I was highly disappointed in. I’ve ran past cops going 120 MPH on several occasions, only to have them swerve out of the way. The system is very broken.
The combat is a bit generic, but it works. It’s the cover system, where you pop out and shoot the ducks that appear before you. Sadly, you can not do a drive by on pedestrians, cops, or rival gang members. Vito likes to keep his hand on the wheel. The guns are fun to play around with. They range from a variety of pistols to the infamous Chicago typewriter. Mostly, you’ll end up using the same weapon throughout the game. I used the shotgun more than any weapon. The only time I really needed to switch was if there was a crowd of mobsters or they’re just too far away. There’s also fist fighting, which leads to a game of jabbing a guy in the face over and over until you can finish him off. I didn’t enjoy the fighting as much. Most of the time, you’re going to just use the jab button instead of just opening fire on the guy with full force. It’s fun, but it would have been nice to see counter-moves in some fashion.
Driving is unrealistic in some manners, and I’m thankful for that. There’s also no ‘racing missions’. The only race you have to do is a race against the clock during one mission, and it’s pretty easy. There’s a ton of cars, and what’s cool outside of collecting them, is the cars change according to the era you’re in. Newer models will appear, older ones become more rare. I also liked fixing up my cars and the need to get gas. There’s just something about running out of gas in a video game that feels refreshing.
Some of the aspects of the game work so well, such as robberies. A little hint is if you’re low on cash, go rob the old man and his gun store. He has a ton of cash sitting in the register. I commonly did this throughout the game just because it was fun to do. I wish there were more aspects that made you feel like a complete criminal, but again, this game is strictly story driven.
The only bugs I ran into was the frame rate and a few glitches that ended in me dying. The frame rate isn’t horrible at all, it’s just not steady. It never caused me to die or mess up, it just ended up being a little annoying. The bugs are much like every game; generic. One mission had me meeting a boss at a coffee shop. I went to the wrong door and fell through the ground only to land on the other side of the map. Other than that, the game is overall solid.
PlayStation 3’s edition has it’s ups and downs. The downloadable content that’s exclusive to PlayStation 3 is really fun. It’s almost like a free-roam of the city. You play as a new character, Jimmy, and you run around town doing whatever you want, or completing several missions, all with leaderboards. It’s also very similar to The Club, with head shots and explosions adding up to points and combo systems. It makes the game feel like it has a purpose after you’re done. The downfall is that the PlayStation 3’s version is missing some graphical aspects that the Xbox 360 version and PC version both have. 3D grass and blood pools most noticeable. Giving the game is very gritty, I’m not really sure why the blood pools were removed, but apparently 2K Czech is saying they couldn’t maintain a very good frame rate with the blood pools and grass. Maybe this will be patched in later, but for now, it’s a bit disappointing.
Mafia II is definitely a title you’ll remember, but much like a movie, when you’re done, you’re done. The DLC looks promising, but it’s all a matter of time.
TL;DR: Good fun, but when it’s over… it’s over.
Reviewed on the PlayStation 3.