Mafia 2 is a dark and excellent take on the gangster genre. Despite a few graphical glitches and a couple small annoyances, it is a superb game that should not be missed.The Story(Spoiler Free)
You play Vito Scaletta, a young man with a troubled past who joined the army to get out of jail time, and is now on his way home. Vito learns that not all is well upon getting home, and Vito needs a good bit of money. Luckily, Vito met up with his old pal Joe Barbaro, who as it turns out, has ties with the Mafia. Eventually, Joe takes Vito under his wing, and the crime spree ensues. The game's story takes place from 1943 to 1957, in Empire Bay, a $60 New York.
The story is very well written, and it features many memorable characters, all with excellent voice acting behind them. It also captures that dark, gritty feel of the gangster genre that not many games have been able to. Like all good gangster or Tom Cruise movies(Top Gun, Collateral), the story takes a bit of time to get going, but once it does, you'll be on the edge of your seat until it stops. Mafia succeeds at making the story very emotional; I cared for all of the characters. Whether I wanted them to live or die, I felt strongly about their fate, and I think you will, too. There are many twists and turns in Mafia 2's story. Some you'll see coming, and others will take you by complete surprise.
The story will take you a solid 15 - 20 hours to complete. Not what I had expected from an open world game, but I'd take a story as well written as this over a story triple the length with worse writing any day. I thoroughly enjoyed Mafia 2.
I should also mention that Mafia 2 has no connections to Mafia: City of Lost Heaven. It does make a few nods at it, though.The Gameplay:
The gameplay in Mafia 2 was better than I could've hoped, but it does have a few annoyances with it.
The gun play in Mafia 2 is excellent. It's definitely some of the best shooting I've seen in an open world game. A lot of the environment is destructible, and you can destroy everything in your path with guns that both feel and sound authentic. The controls are tight and the action fast. The game also features a well done cover system. One thing that did bother me about the combat, was how your vision darkens, blurs, and fades to black & white as you take damage. If you're fighting in a dark area, this can make recovering quite difficult, as you will not be able to see. Luckily, you won't be fighting in the dark all that much, so it's not that big a deal.
Unlike in other open world games, there aren't any side quests to be found here. Just the main story. This seems like a bit of a waste for an open world game. It would've been nice to have some extra stuff to do between missions. Other than robbing stores and killing cops, there's really not much to do in Empire Bay.
There are 38 vehicles to found and driven in Mafia 2. It might not sound like much, but it's plenty. The driving can be hit or miss. For the most part it works well, but sometimes when you get a faster vehicle, it's hard to keep straight, as it tends to swerve all over the place. The game features 2 control schemes for driving, Simulation and Normal. Simulation makes things like water and dirt much more realistically affect your car's performance and handling, as well making your car car generally behave more realistically. Normal mode in this game is still much more realistic than most sandbox games, but it's certainly not on the level of any real simulation racing game. The garage in Vito's apartment can hold up to 10 vehicles. Upon parking a vehicle in the garage, it's stored there until destroyed, for use whenever you like. Gas is also required to drive. You don't have to fill up frequently enough for it to become a hassle, just enough to add that extra bit of realism.
Vito can visit various clothing stores to purchase new outfits, I bought myself a stylin' pink suit. There aren't that many different outfits, but you should be able to find somethin' ya dig, like my stylin' pink suit. Your vehicle can also be customized. You can change the color, the rims, tune the engine and even change the plates. I change the plates on all my cars to "Azkikr." Ya get it?! Right! Because I dislike Arizona, and I wanna kick it with Texas' boot. 1
You'll need money if you want to buy cigarettes, hamburgers and milkshakes. There are a few ways you can make money. Obviously by doing the main story, but you can also crush cars and rob stores. Robbing a store is basically as simple as walking in with a gun and killing everyone who makes a fuss, than helping yourself to the phat loot. Crushing cars is done as a job for a certain someone in Mafia 2. You steal a car, drive it into the crusher, press a button, and then ya get $400. Other than suits and customizing your cars, there's really nothing else to spend your money on. You can go to a restaurant, buy guns, buy gas for your car, and that's pretty much it. You'll generally have plenty of guns from doing the story missions. And if you need a car, you're forced to steal one. Apparently there are no car dealerships in Empire Bay.
The game also features a whopping 3 radio stations. Nothing compared to the amount found with GTA games, but they serve their purpose. So hopefully you like 40's and 50's easy listening, easy listening and rock-esque easy listening music. It's easy listening music, so it's hard to fault it. There are no talk stations. The DJs say a few words between songs, and it's funny in a sexist 50's way. Unfortunately, it's nothing compared to the greatness of GTA radio stations, specifically: WKTT.
Empire Bay is about the size of 1.5 GTA4 islands. Maybe 2. It's not huge, but it's big enough. The Graphics:
The graphics in this game are - barring the occasional bug - excellent.
The characters, cars, environments, guns and effects are all done very well. The animations are excellent, as well. The game's cut scenes are done using the in-game engine, and they look great!
Sometime store textures will fade from the plane of existence into the veil, and then zap back into normal space and time as you near them. Hopefully ghostbusters are investigating this phenomena. Luckily it doesn't affect gameplay. Other than that, there isn't that much texture popping. Shadows have a tendency to become pixelated. This happened several times, but it usually didn't last long. Smoke also has a tendency to do this, especially when it comes in contact with shadows. In fact, smoke almost always becomes pixelated when it's in shadow. Sometimes it'll even disappear completely.
The game's original score is performed by the Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra, and it's very well done. Whether the mood is joyous or depressed, the orchestra makes it sound beautiful.
As I mentioned earlier, the guns sound realistic, as does the rest of the world, and all the characters are backed by fantastic voice actors.The Achievements:
*Keep in mind that this has no bearing on my score*
The achievements are all pretty straightforward. Some of them you'll have to be on the lookout for, such as the 209 collectibles.. sigh. None are particularly difficult, but one of them is extremely time consuming. And that one is finding all 159 wanted posters.
The other collectible achievements are finding any collectible, and finding all 50 playboy mags. I think you'll enjoy finding the playboy mags.
The rest of the achievements are pretty easy, and the difficulty achievements stack. There are several mission-related achievements, but since you can replay missions, it's not hard to get these, so you won't need any more than one playthrough to get everything.The Final Verdict:
Mafia 2 is, in this guy's humble opinion, one of the must have games of 2010. If you don't buy it for the action, buy it for the excellent story. If you don't like either of those things, go back to your dolls, because we - by which I mean I - hate you.Pros N' Cons:
Pro = + // Con = -
+ Exceptional story and writing
+ Deep and interesting characters
+ World feels authentic, and it's easy to get immersed
+ The action is frantic, and the gun play fun
- Some minor graphical bugs
- Other than story missions, there's not much to do in Empire Bay1
. I'm just kidding. I've nothing against Arizona. Good people that just happen to have a soul crushing hatred of Mexicans that is rivaled only by that skateboarding bird Sonny's insane love of Cocoa Puffs. 2
. That was also a joke.