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Mafia II PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 8.6
Graphics 8.8
Sound 9.0
Value 8.4
Distributor: 2KGames
Review Date:
August 2010
Michael Marsh


Mafia II

There have been quite a few sequels of late and Mafia II by 2K Czech is the latest game to cash in on the relatively successfully original, not that this is a bad thing mind you. The game itself is a cross between Grand Theft Auto meets The Godfather but unlike the EA games, Mafia II is far superior, even though it lacks the true sandbox experience of GTA. The protagonist behind Mafia II is Vito Scaletta, a man who wants it all and will stop at nothing to get it. From money to women and power, Vito has balls to grab what he wants but unlike the over the top characters from GTA, Mafia II has quite a realistic cast that in unison with the story, makes for a compelling experience that parallels The Godfather series and other gangster movies from Hollywood.

Now that we have your attention! Mafia II has Playboy Bunnies... unfortunately it's bunnies from the 50's and 60's though, not like Sheridan!
To read our exclusive interview with Sheridyn Fisher, click here

The story starts in 1945 where you take control of Vita Scaletta and together with his best-friend Joe, they begin to get involved in the criminal underworld. Just be warned that there is quite a large amount of adult content in Mafia II and if you are disturbed by gratuitous violence which is quite realistic at times, you may want to get your gaming goodness from somewhere else. It should also be mentioned that Mafia II also contains a plethora of Playboy magazines from the time which are littered throughout the gaming environment for you to find and even peruse which contains nudity. Yes my friends, this game is not for the kids!

However... back to the story. As Vito and his friend Joe climb that the ladder of the Mafia ranks, they must embark on a variety of objectives from bruising people up to selling contraband and ultimately cold blooded murder. It's all in a day's work for these two sophisticated Italian thugs. As the money and women roll in for these two partners in crime, Vito soon realises that he may have bitten off more than he can chew and in the end, you cannot leave “the family” which is beautifully setup in the end. The story is quite emotional at times and is quite intense which is almost makes it feel like you are watching a well scripted movie that only makes the game even more compelling. In terms of story progression, cutscenes are used to assist in this process and are quite slick to watch.

At its core, Mafia II is a third person action game that allows you to explore a relatively large city as you need to succeed in a set number of objectives. This is where the links to Grand Theft Auto end because the story is definitely the backbone behind the game and even though you can go off the beating track, it does lack that illusion of freedom which the GTA series captured perfectly, not that this is a bad thing. As you drive around Empire City, the fake American city where Mafia II is set, you really appreciate the small touches in the game such as the propaganda of the United States towards World War II to the authentic clothes, vehicles and locales of the time. As the game progresses, you soon move into the 50’s and everything changes in the city as well which is thoroughly quite impressive to watch. One annoyance in terms with the missions are the checkpoints that can be quite frustrating, especially the ones that are far and few.

The missions are quite fun in Mafia II, especially the ones that begin slowly and end with a bang, much like The Godfather movies. Personally, I wish there was more side quests in the game which would have given the game that real illusion of freedom like GTA. Of course, one incentive to explore is to find all the Playboy magazines and if you remember reading one of our old news articles, Playboy became an official sponsor to this game by allowing the developers to use their ever so gorgeous centrefolds. Other distractions in the game involve selling cars, buying new weapons and clothes to help freshen things up, including Vito himself. In terms of cars, Vito can store around 10 cars in his garage which is kind of cool and gives you some great choices for the particular missions or if you just want to cruise around town.

The combat engine works well in the title with the player having the option of either melee (hand to hand combat) or guns. Hand to hand fighting is fun because your character can pull a few different moves as opposed to just punch and block. Weapons on the other hand range from guns to Tommy guns and some other surprises that we won't mention here. Needless to say, the controls have been well mapped on the DualShock controller and the cover system works well with the gun fights. It should also be mentioned that the police are not as proactive as GTA but if you so get into the sights of the police, they will attempt to stop you through force (e.g. cars, guns or roadblocks). Nothing is more entertaining than outracing the police in these relatively slow cars and then changing your clothes in order to evade them. Of course, this does not work on all occasions but some can take bribes!

Graphically, Mafia II is eye candy on the PlayStation 3 from realistic characters, authentic clothing and great real-world physics. The cars looks good and handle quite well as you drive around Empire City as opposed to the sluggish cars from the original which seemed to float. Add in a variety of special effects from weather to explosions and some great lighting effects and this is one well made game. I also like the destroyable environment that is littered throughout the game from glass to boxes that creates this Hollywood style action movie. The music suits the period well and even features artists of the era to help immerse you into this realistic game plus some decent orchestral sound tunes that I'm sure Nino Rota (Godfather) would appreciate. The star of the audio department however, is the voice acting which is quite professional and really helps create an interesting and addictive story as you always want to keep playing to see what happens to these realistic characters.

In conclusion, Mafia II transcends the original game and what was a rather 2D experience in the original has now been turned into a fully interactive, almost 3D experience. Vito is a charmer and is perfectly created for the game that makes you want to finish the game in order to see how the story finishes. It should take most gamers a good 12 - 15 hours to successfully complete and if they put in some more freedom, this game could almost have become the GTA killer. Nonetheless, it's a well made title that is oozing with enjoyment but in terms of replay value, it's just a one play game. Recommended!


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