Tech News on G4
'Mafia 2' whacks the competition
Sept 13, 2010
By John Powell - G4 Canada
Despite the ups and downs of this gaming year, two things are abundantly clear: 2010 is the year of sandbox game and the year in which plot really does matter.
Since its release in May, Rockstar's 'Red Dead Redemption' is the title people keep coming back to and is definitely in the running for Game of the Year. 'Mafia 2' should be close on its heels.
Developed by 2K Czech and published by 2K Games, the sequel to the 2002 PC and later PS2 and Xbox title, takes you on a journey through the origins of the mafia itself from the war-torn shores of Italy to the mean streets of Empire Bay through the eyes of World War II veteran Vito Scaletta.
The far-reaching influence of the mob becomes clear to Vito when with a phone call made by one of their associates, he no longer has to return to active military duty. That phone call changes the course of Vito's life and begins an elaborate and gripping storyline that spans eight years.
As Vito, you will rise from "errand boy" to a "made man" in the mob. You begin by selling black market cigarettes off the back of a truck, acting as the wheel man during a daylight hit, fencing stolen property then move on to assassination, bank robberies and even blowing up an office building.
Along your dark journey, there are rays of light. Through it all, Vito has a conscience, some semblance of a soul. He takes no pleasure in some of the things he has do. When it comes to protecting his friends and family, all bets are off, however. His sister's abusive husband, the men who kidnap his best friend and the local "greaser" gang terrorizing the neighbourhood, all get what's coming to them…and then some.
Unlike other titles such a 'Grand Theft Auto' or "Saint's Row", you do pay for your mistakes. For part of the game, you do go to jail. Behind bars, you are forced to make alliances and survive as best you can through many fist fight, brawling encounters, such as when the guards disappear and you are surrounded by knife-wielding thugs in the shower. Not a good thing.
The experience of having to do your time and own up to the crimes you committed as part of a storyline is one of the elements that makes you appreciate all the work 2K Czech put into telling a magnificent story.
The plot and cut-scenes drive the missions. Some gamers may appreciate that while others will not. From first glance, Empire Bay looks like a free-wheelin', sandbox environment. In reality, it is not. While you can rob stores, steal cars, buy clothes, repair vehicles and can throw down a couple at your local drinking establishment for some small rewards, there are no side missions of any note to engage in. All of your destinations are guided by the cut-scenes and the storylines.
There also really isn't a need to upgrade your vehicles or weapons, even though you can. As you go about the missions, you will come across better weapons and as the times change, faster and more responsive vehicles will become available. Whether you want to or not, you will have to upgrade your clothing as this is the only way to ditch the coppers. Apparently, just buying a new set of threads totally alters your identity in Empire City. The cops there aren't the brightest brunch. Change your clothes, outrun them in your car or just throw them some cash if you ever want to erase that wanted status caused by your own careless actions or the consequences of a mission.
And those missions. Again, they range from the sublime to the fantastic. My favourite was impersonating a window washer, blowing up an entire floor of an office building and then shooting my way to safety as the police and fire department could be heard screeching through the streets in response to the emergency.
The little details, such as radio reports of the attack as you race away and trails of smoke in the air that can be seen from a distance, made the mission for me, then again, 2K Czech's little touches are what put 'Mafia 2' over and above any of the 'Godfather' or 'Gangster' video games.
Opening the game case and seeing that the manual is only four pages long, should alert you to the fact that the controls are probably not going to take you hours and hours to master, and they won't. 'Mafia 2' employs a basic, first-person shooter cover system, simplistic driving controls and a basic fist-fighting (boxing) mechanic that anyone who has played 'Grand Theft Auto' or 'True Crimes' will be familiar with. The cover system has its flaws, sometimes I was surprised to find out I wasn't as safe as I thought I was even though I was "in cover" and crouching too, but overall the tried and true mechanics work well. How could they not?
This should be a no-brainer but parents should also take heed of the game's "Mature" rating. It is not only there for the language and violence in the game but for the collectible vintage Playboy covers and centerfold photos in the game as well.
With two hours of cut scenes pulled from a 700 page script and 15 chapters to play through, 'Mafia 2' is a grandiose tale full of twists, turns, promises and betrayals, larger-than-life personalities and in its 12 to 14 hours of game time, more action than any Hollywood movie you were likely to have seen this summer.
It is the characters and their personalities which pull you deeper and deeper into the narrative in a way that most games do not. 2K Czech have not just created a game, they have told a powerful story that will stay with you long after you have logged that final achievement.
Rating: 9 / 10
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