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Review – Mafia II | Level Up News

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Review – Mafia II


Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Czech
Platform(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Microsoft Windows
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Rating: Mature
ESRB Content Descriptors: Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, Use of Drugs
Purchase From: Amazon, GameStop, or Walmart

The Scoop: After Eight long years, literally almost to the day, veteran fans of sandbox/action titles get the long awaited sequel to one of the best (if not the best) Grand Theft Auto clone of all time; the 2002 PC Classic (And 2004 Console Letdown) Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven.

The Setup: You play as Sicilian immigrant Vito Scaletta in an almost decade long quest to become a made man and live the American dream. The game starts in 1943 during World War II in one of the many battles to remove Mussolini’s forces from Sicily. It’s an interesting way to introduce the player to the combat controls in the game, as well as an interesting way to introduce the character of Vito, who must literally be forced to defend his former homeland from occupation but still manages to hold a strange sense of honor. From there Vito is sent home to Empire Bay City during the Christmas season, where he hooks up with longtime friend and smalltime criminal Joe Barbara and together they set out to become member of the Sicilian Mafia.

As the years progress you pull an odd assortment of criminal activity inside the city and surrounding suburbs, survive a stint inside of a federal prison, and watch how only a few years can change the face of America during a major cultural and economic boom.

What’s Hot: If I had to choose one thing about Mafia II that sets it apart from other games in the sandbox/action genre it would be the story development and writing. The script is Hollywood quality and the voice acting is top notch. The story was extremely enjoyable and was happily more realistic than the usual GTA fare. Though to elaborate, the story would be considered epic and rather farfetched if compared to the real life of a Mafioso; but when compared to most modern media on the subject, especially the realm of videogames, it never gets too ridiculous. Many of the missions seem more based off real life Mafia raids and events than homages to popular cinema. And the extensive gunfights never seem totally impossible with maybe the exception of the later games attacks on a large Chinese restaurant and a planetarium. It may seem weird to say but it is a welcome change in my opinion.

The combat controls are very well done for a more open world action game. While not as easy to get used to as Red Dead Redemption’s controls, once you get past the slight learning curve and realize the importance of cover you will be taking out tough guys like a pro. The weapons are also well implemented into the game. They all seem very heavy and realistic when you move with them and shoot with them. All of them are period favorites and surplus weapons you would find easily on the black market during and post-World War II. It is actually pretty cool how they are introduced to show the time; in the beginning of the game you get a lot of the prohibition criminal standards, a 20’s era (1922 or 1928) Thompson, Colt 1911 Classic, Pump Shotgun, 38 revolver. Later in the game however, after the end of the war, you start to get a lot of military surplus like the Thompson M1A1, MP40, and Garand.

The expertly chosen soundtrack also helps to give you the feel of the time period. None of the licensed (though most are public domain by this point I’m sure) music are songs I would put into my iPod, but they really made me feel like I was listening to a radio during the 40’s and 50’s; especially the parts of the game which take place during the Christmas season and feature an array of vintage Christmas music. It seems like such a small thing but it really builds the tone.

What’s Not: The driving controls feel really stiff and awkward. Fast turns are nearly impossible to pull off without a lot of practice and you will often find yourself driving into buildings and object if you don’t time them precisely. The other drivers on the street are also blind and aggressive, they will not falter off course for no man or vehicle and as if they aren’t bad enough the pedestrians literally jump in front of your car if a cop is in sight. It provides a decent challenge, but sometimes it is just frustrating, like when you are times to get from point A to point B and right as you are rounding into the checkpoint marker you get tagged by a cop and suddenly can’t complete the mission.

Remember when I was commending the more realistic tone? Well you also have to follow traffic laws, more-so it seems depending on the difficulty level. I don’t know why but this just bugs me, especially the fact that the cops are out for blood if you break them. Nothing like having a mission fall to ruins because you went three miles over the speed limit or ran a red light and some police officer decided you needed to die in the name of justice. Again this all fits with the realistic tone, but come on, it is still a videogame and I don’t even drive this safely in real life.

It would technically be classified as a sandbox game, but I feel it is more qualified as just an action game. There is no real exploration encouraged until literally 15-30 minutes before the games end, and the storyline is completely linear. No branching paths or story based side missions. It is also pretty short, maybe only a little longer than the GTAIV expansions. I beat the game and got almost all of the achievements during a rental, and I don’t mean a Gamefly rental, I mean a 3 day rental. I’d say a little over 6 hours of gameplay, bring it up to 8 hours total for the lengthy amount of cut scenes; that is about what I spend on Ballad of Gay Tony and Lost & The Damned individually. I don’t mind the fact that there is no competitive multiplayer, but I think it would be cool if they had included a series of separate co-op missions with Vito and Joe; I won’t remove points for it, but it must be said.

The ending also sucks and feels kind of rushed, but I won’t spoil anything.

Final Verdict: Overall the characters are likable, the story is very engrossing and world is very well imagined. I just wish there was more of it, especially considering the lengthy development time they allowed it. The gameplay is pretty good, but driving around seems more trouble than it is worth half the time. I honestly wasn’t expecting much with the game despite enjoying the original and was pleasantly surprised how much I did enjoy it, but I wouldn’t go spending $59.99 on it anytime soon.

Order your copy of Mafia II from Amazon, GameStop, or Walmart

Review - Mafia II, 5.0 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

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    a lot of responses here Review – Mafia II | Level Up News.

    I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s okay. Is it only me or do a few of the remarks look like they are coming from brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are writing on additional sites, I would like to keep up with everything new you have to post. Would you list of every one of your social networking sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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