Mafia II (The City of Lost Heaven) Review : It’s been a long time coming – almost exactly three years since it was first announced, in fact – but Mafia II is finally here. We’ve seen a lot of the game prior to its release; learned about its characters, its attention to detail and its aim to immerse players in its sharply realized mid-century Mob fiction. So far, it’s seemed like a worthy enough successor to the original Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, but obviously it’s got a lot to live up to.
It was released at a time when Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto III had turned the industry on its head, and it was similar enough to garner the attention of gamers because of it. Mafia II represents a monumental challenge for developers 2K Czech. On the one hand, they’ve had to create an entirely new world populated with compelling characters, period-authentic content and suitably gangster-friendly gameplay. Even with the experience of the first Mafia title, that’s a big ask.
On the other, they’ve had to write a story from scratch, and make sure it adheres to the wider public perception of a crime syndicate that most people know very little about, then shoe-horn it into the environment in a manner that would suggest it’s all part of the same project. What’s particularly impressive is that for the most part, they’ve succeeded.
Unlike your Grand Theft Autos and just about every other open-world game, Mafia II features no side missions to pursue, no mission-givers to go and find, and no spontaneous events to distract you from the task at hand. The game is divided into chapters, which usually begin with Vito being woken up at home by a phone call. You’re then directed to drive somewhere and meet with someone before being thrown headlong into firefights, car chases or (and these are rare) stealth missions.
“Mafia 2″ starts with a blank slate, in a new city (the New York-inspired Empire Bay) and a new time period (the 1940s and ’50s). Players take on the role of Vito Scaletta, a Sicilian immigrant who has been running afoul of the law since birth. After a brief stint in the military, Scaletta returns to his old habits in Empire Bay, slowly working his way up the ranks of organized crime.
The gameplay is a mix of two styles. There’s driving, which you’ll be doing a lot of as you traverse the city, and there’s 3rd-person shooting which cover mechanics. The game basically alternates between these two styles throughout its 12 hour campaign.
The game charts the rise, and fall, then rise, then fall, then rise again of Vito Scaletti, a suitably flawed individual prone to acts of extreme violence interspersed with periods of familial bonding, car theft, magazine collecting and drinking.
In the end, “Mafia 2″ appears to be half-baked. While it does manage to do a few things well, it never reaches much higher than that. Uninspired gameplay and a non-interactive world are tough trade-offs for well-acted cutscenes and pretty scenery. If you’re a fan of mafia movies, the cutscenes might be enough to get you through. If you’re looking for a compelling action game, though, “Mafia 2″ is simply adequate.
The game, although promising received a mixed body-bag of scores, most of which ended up in the higher tier of of the board. D’Toid say that the game is worth a rating of 6.5 on the 360, and 7.5 on the PS3 whereas NowGamer say that the best gameplay is with the PC version giving an 8.3, and also give a 8.0 and a 8.1 to 360 and PS3 versions.
The release is set for US (August 24) and this Friday in the UK (August 27). Check out new price and buy it from Amazon.
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