If you’re into Mafia flicks and games like Grand Theft Auto, then Mafia II is definitely up your alley. The trailers were good and all, but we wanted to know if this game really lives up to the hype. Is it just another run and gun, or does it deliver the goods?
Well, lets just answer that question now so we can get it out of the way. Does the game live up to the hype? Absolutely. No question about it. The game pulls no punches. Its rating of mature wasn’t for show. The story line is engaging, and has you begging for more at every turn. Graphics are great, and game play is amazing -besides a crazy camera angle or two so lets take it from the top.
What We Liked:
You will find yourself driving for a lot of the game. And when we say a lot, we mean A LOT! However, there are some pretty cool cars, and since this is an era piece, you will see some classic beauties. Taking cars is a simple as breaking the glass, picking the lock, or yanking the driver out of the front seat. Driving them is quite fun, as they’ve added realistic damage and handling but be very careful as a short joy ride can turn into a car chase at the drop of a dime because the place is crawling with police. So be careful with the throttle and obey the laws when they are around or you may have more trouble then you intended. Whats cool is that the more trouble your in the more forceful the police become. If they have your description, you have to avoid getting spotted. You should also change cars or get the plates changed at a garage if they know your license plate. Once you get caught you have the option to fight it out, or bribe! At the garage, you can also detail the car anyway you want if you have the money. color, plates, tires, and even engine upgrades to help with outrunning the po-po. Lastly, if you have a favorite car that you use often, don’t forget to fill ‘er up because you will run out of gas.
You get access to a number of time-specific guns like the ever famous Tommy-Gun, or the .38 special. You’ve got a couple other guns from WWII like the MP 40 and the M3 Sub Machine Gun. I personally like the pump-action shotgun myself. The guns, as you would expect, have different ranges and are better suited to certain environments so take this into account when in a shoot-out. There are a few gun stores in the area where you can stock up on guns and ammunition between missions.
You can go to the clothing store to get new threads whenever you want. Some stores are more upscale then others and offer different selections. You can change your clothes at your apartment whenever you want to, and depending on your mission, your clothes can get dirty. However, the damage isn’t permanent so if you chose the same outfit the next day, dirt has usually gone. The clothes don’t really add anything to your hit-points or anything like that, but that level of customization is a welcome aspect of the game.
The game designers added licensed music to the game which worked marvelously. If you love oldies, I’m sure a lot of your favorites will come on the radio. We played this game nonstop for something like two weeks and the radio never seemed to get old. The songs were well spaced and every now and then you would get breaking news interruptions that detailed a job you just did, or war reports which was a great touch. Songs from the Drifters, Muddy Waters, Buddy Holly, and Little Richard (to name a few) added to the overall feel of the game. With these songs, you get the sense that you are really living in that time period. You end up getting immersed in the game-play and forgetting reality for a while. It definitely makes for a memorable experience.
DLC (Down-loadable Content)
This helps to explain bits of the story and keep it fresh. Love this addition, but hate having to pay for it. However, the story is quite compelling and this helps to keep game play going after you beat the game. I tried Joe’s Adventure which shows some of the same time period from Joe’s perspective. There are also a few new things that get added, like new cars new songs, new clothes etc… Game play is a little different as well. You have more control over the missions you can play so this adds a level of control we felt was missing from normal game-play. Most of the gaming controls stay the same so you can get right back into the swing of things with no problems. Here, you get points for beating people up and completing missions, whereas before you didn’t really get anything more than satisfaction that you made it to the next part of the story. We like this arcade approach because you don’t feel rushed to complete the story and you still get rewarded for doing your own thing. It also fleshes out the game a bit, and you get to know more about the characters.
What we Didn’t Like:
Besides your good buddy Joe, you never really got to know the other characters. I never felt like you got know your family or anyone else in the Mafia Family very well. You never really get to interact with your family at all during the game and so some of the heartwarming moments seem contrived. As a matter of fact you we never get the sense that you know anyone really. Now this could be on purpose, but we would rather more interaction between characters or at least a little more back story on some characters to make you feel empathetic when they show up.
Now yes, this is a free roam game, however, it doesn’t really matter if there isn’t anywhere to go. Now, maybe we missed it, but there really isn’t much to do in the city except get gas, make a phone call, buy a gun, buy clothes, and maybe crush a car for money. The rest are missions that drive the story forward. We think the game designers could have added a few mini games to make you feel like you really lived in the town. Wish you could enter more buildings. The city is pretty extensive area-wise so you MUST drive everywhere, but that also takes away from the exploration a bit as well. We never really got the feeling that we could just roam around and find something interesting to do.
I know you guys are wondering why this is in the “Not Like” section. Well so what! We weren’t feeling the Playboys littered around the city that you can collect and browse at your leisure. Thought it was an interesting feature, but we thought that it cheapened the game a little bit. Nudie pictures everywhere, aren’t we above that? No? O.K. well if that’s your thing you can try to collect all the pin-ups. As a guy trying to clean up his act, I’ll try to pass on this one.
All in all we thought this was a great game. I was apprehensive at first, but the story-line is top notch, a place where GTA falls short in our opinion. It was so compelling that it was on my mind even after playing. It was fun, but I wasn’t smiling a lot of the time because the game was so gritty. I wanted to know a little more about the characters, but the Down-loadable Content answers this call and keeps things fresh. This is an absolute must have for that Mafia buff in your family – especially if that Mafia Buff is you!