Mafia II tells the story of Vito Scaletta, a returning war veteran who comes home to find life has changed while he’s been away and soon finds himself mixed up in the world of the Mafia.
This game is an interesting beast, as during a lot of the promo leading up to its release we were led to believe it would be open world (ala GTA) at least in some parts. In reality this is a very linear experience and that has led to some negative feedback.
Personally while that discovery came as a disappointment if you can look beyond it then you will find a strong, solid single player experience with a well crafted and immersive story.
Vito’s tale takes place over many years and in some interesting environments, all based (on the whole) in Empire Bay. The mission structure is fairly varied throughout and the story progresses at a nice pace.
Unfortunately there are a few issues that stop the game from being a great experience.
Firstly there seems to be no balance in terms of your death and the death of your enemies. For you to take down an enemy usually takes between 3 and 4 shots (headshots not withstanding) but it felt like you could be downed by two shots or even one which, while realistic, didn’t seem fair when faced with 4 or 5 enemies at a time.
Even worse than that is the somewhat insane decision to have minimal checkpoints in missions. Sometimes I would battle through two or three areas of numerous enemies only to die and have to start right back at the beginning. On a few occasions there was even a break in play and conversation between characters – a perfect place for a checkpoint.
Enemy AI also felt a little random – half the time you faced hapless fools walking into your line of fire of their own accord and the rest of time your enemies were like a well trained SWAT team.
The world created for Mafia II is stunning – it’s how you want the 50′s to have looked and it is a lovely touch to have the city change over the years of the game. Graphically the game is good, not stunning, but certainly one you’ll enjoy watching.
I had a blast playing through this game and as I said if you take it for what it is, as opposed to what it isn’t, you’ll be well rewarded.
The plot of Mafia II is your standard gangster fare with a few surprises thrown in and that is the game’s strongest point. It’s well written and the chemistry between the main characters is believable and, at times, genuinely funny.
If you have any interest in this era or the workings of the Mafia then this is a game that will let you play through a slice of that lifestyle.