Company: 2K Games
Platform: XBOX 360
Buy on Amazon.com
Coming off the heels of watching “Public Enemies” a month ago, I was eagerly awaiting 2K Games release of “Mafia II” for the 360. I quickly downloaded the demo when it was first available, and it had an interesting enough hook that made me anxious to play the full game, regardless of not having played the first game.
The game opens up with a great back story, introducing you to Vito Scaletta, the eldest son of a newly immigrated Italian family in the city of Empire Bay (bizarre New York). You watch as Vito becomes a teenager and starts getting into trouble with his buddy Joe, ultimately landing him in jail. In order to get out of jail, Vito makes a deal with the military that lands him in Mussolini’s Italy circa 1941, due to his fluency in Italian.
This is where the player takes over, and you quickly go through a cleverly disguised tutorial section, where you learn all about the targeting and cover mechanics that you’ll use the rest of the game.
Once you finish up your tour in Italy, you return to find that life isn’t as easy as a working man, so you reconnect with Joe, and slowly become part of organized crime. These early stages of the game left a bit to be desired, but I can understand the reasoning they did it. You don’t just become a Made Man over night, and everybody has got to pay their dues. Having missions varying from beating up dock workers to collect their barber payments, to selling cheap cigarettes off the back of the truck, these early portions of the game can get a bit boring.
Once you’ve become a Made man, however, this all changes quickly. I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the story once it was moving along, and I really felt immersed in Vito’s life and potential as he moved his way up the ladder. The cinematics between your missions are like a movie in themselves and it genuinely keeps you interested in the next twist or turn, of which there are dozens.
Just when you think you have it all figured out, when you are certain who is the bad guy and who isn’t, it stops on a dime and goes the other direction. One minute, you’re on top of the world with fancy suits and cars, and the next you are stealing money from gas stations and hiding from the police in dark alleys.
The controls are standard FPS (first person shooter) fare. I didn’t have too many problems with the enemies playing through on normal difficulty. The cover system is pretty basic, and there were a few repetitive fights, where enemies would take too long to die. I wasn’t a fan of this, but I think it was more realistic than normal Halo type games. The driving controls handled really well after getting used to them, and some of the cars you can obtain were really nice.
All in all, the portions of the game that I was in control of were just long enough to get me through to the next cinematic, which was really my favorite part of this game. I ended up almost feeling like I was involved in a film, always trying to find out what was around the next corner, and once I got to the ending, wanting more right away. If you are a fan of vintage mobster type movies and can get through the initial boring missions, this game tells a great story and keeps you pretty well entertained in the time it takes you to get there (for me, that was about 10 hours total).
Bottom Line: Great story/script, Great voice acting, Immersive gameplay