Born the son of a poor immigrant, Vito is a beaten down Italian American who is trying to secure his piece of the American Dream. Looking to escape the life of poverty that consumed his childhood, Vito is soon swayed by the lure of power and wealth that a life of Organized Crime can bring. A petty criminal his whole life, Vito, along with his childhood friend, Joe, will descend into the world of organized crime. Together, they will work to prove themselves to the Mob as they try to make their names on the streets of a cold and unforgiving city.
That’s the official storyline released for the game, Mafia II. This is another sequel to a game I’ve never played, so I can’t speak to whether this is an improvement over the original or not. Also, having never played the original, I expected the game to simply be an open ended GTA type game set back in the 40’s, and that wasn’t quite what I got once I sat down with the game. I’ll give you the details after the jump.
As the story preview stated, you play as Vito Scaletta in the fictional city of Empire Bay. You’ve just gotten back from the war on leave and you are greeted at the train station by your lifelong friend Joe. You and Joe have some history together and he’s been the driving force behind many of your run-ins with the law growing up. Joe proceeds to pull some strings and get you out of the military for good. You meet your family, get acquainted with your main house, car, and local joints for food, ammo, and the regular needs in these sorts of games.
The cut scenes in this game were fantastic. And the story that it told was interesting and fun. My biggest complaint about the game was that, for an open ended game like this, it seemed pretty streamlined. You basically just spend your time completing the necessary actions to get to the next mission… not a lot of extra activities to round out the game. Now, I have to admit, I only played about half of the storyline, so maybe that changes a bit; and much of the initial intro to the game was spent with other people at my house, and I couldn’t hear the voices very well. So there’s a strong possibility that I missed some of that extra-curricular aspect. But at least from my experience, there just wasn’t that much going on outside of the driving story line.
With such a great foundation (the story, the time in which the game is set, the people you interact with) I would have liked to see a slightly better overall game. The cover system was clunky and far from helpful, the fighting system was very limited and repetitive, and the driving was a little frustrating and inconsistent. I occasionally was driving too quickly (doesn’t everyone in these games?) and the police would see me speed by and try to chase me… but other times they simply ignored me, and it was far too easy to evade the cops and lose your wanted level. In games like this, half the fun is getting into trouble to experience the fear of the good guys breathing down your back and chasing you down. The chase, being on the run, the non-stop all-out drive to get away… that’s when some of the most enjoyable moments of these games occur. I just didn’t get that from this one unfortunately, which was sad because I really wanted to like this game.
Looking back, it almost felt like I was playing out a movie, which is a very good sign and a great place for a game to start. It just would have been nice to have a richer overall experience, there was too much of a gap in the floorboards and so many great opportunities slipped through.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: Xbox 360 and PS3
Cost: Varies [Amazon Link]
Release date: August 24, 2010