VIDEOGAME REVIEW | The first Mafia II DLC Jimmy’s Vendetta follows the shallow story of a ”cleaner”, or ”hit man” - or whatever you choose to call it - of the underworld, who's name is Jimmy. The gangs that our anti-hero, Jimmy, did his dirty laundry service for eventually backstabbed him, by selling him out to a corrupted judge and jury, in order to save their own hides and getting away free.

Story (or lack thereof) in Jimmy's Vendetta 

Quite expectedly, you begin your journey by escaping prison, punching your way through one guard after the other, making your way back to the streets. Your only objective in the game is then to simply cause your old backstabbers as much damage as possible, before eventually taking out their leaders, and lastly the criminal judge himself.

Unlike the main game; Mafia II, Jimmy’s Vendetta is not a particularly story driven game. The total number of cut scenes in the game could be counted with one hand. A lot like old fashioned 2-D games of the good old 8- and 16-bit era, the little story that is included is only there to initially set the tone of the game, quickly giving you the back story, as well as giving you a proper ending sequence of the game. There's really nothing in between, as far as cut scenes go. Only the absolute necessary to make the content of the game somewhat justified.

Gameplay

The car washes - one of the least useful features in
Empire Bay, along with the many gas stations.
The typical missions consist of stealing vehicles or whacking a specific guy that has some special importance to your enemies. You also get to destroy a lot of enemy property to cause financial damage in order to undermine their shady businesses. Apart from the occasional bar, your targets are generally cars and delivery trucks, which are sometimes parked and sometimes on the move. When you actually need to take out moving vehicles, the lack of possibility to shoot from within your own vehicle becomes quite apparent. Instead of simply aiming from your car window, you instead first have to drive past the other vehicle to get a good head start, then hit the brakes, get out of the car and quickly take out your gun of choice and aim for the fuel tank to make the truck in question blow up in flames.

Driving…and yet more driving...

Aah! Good as new!
What’s most boring in the game are all the car theft missions, that only consist of stealing a certain vehicle marked on the map, and deliver that to a specific garage. It gets really old and tedious quickly. Especially regarding how much time you’re already spending behind the wheel, driving between mission locations. And while the auto thefts really add nothing to the already thin story of the game, you’re still required to finish them, before you can progress further in the game, by unlocking new missions.

Furthermore, the missions themselves always seem to be scattered quite remotely from one another, thus sustaining the time spent on driving between dots on a map even longer. After a while you get the feeling all the driving is only there for a filler, as a means of extending the life span of the game. What you can do besides the main missions in the "open world" of Empire Bay isn't a lot. Suppose you could always wash your car...

Jimmy is really no Agent 47

Gee...Wonder what'll happen in this mission...
The “hit man” type missions are all action packed shootouts, whether you like it or not. As your target is always heavily guarded by his henchmen, there’s never an easy way to make a stealth takedown and make a run for it, without having to deal with hordes of generic hat and trench coat wearing mobsters with tommy guns afterwards.

As you’ll soon be overwhelmed with enemies, who even approach you from behind in this DLC, the cover based shooting mechanics of Mafia II's gaming engine also fall quite flat, being completely useless in such dire straits.

It’s certainly easy to get in deep trouble in this DLC. Much more so than in the original Mafia 2, because (unlike Jimmy's Vendetta), most the action in Mafia 2 took place in secluded areas, free from pesky coppers. In Jimmy’s Vendetta at the other hand, practically everything you do takes place in the “open world”; on open streets in broad daylight. So, unless you have some serious sneaking skills, expect to end up with a “WANTED” sign stamped on your poor mobster bum in each and every mission. And unless you’re playing on a PC using a neat little thing called a trainer, you’ll likely be more busy shaking cops off your back, than completing the actual missions.

Checkpoints replaced with time limits

Here's another difference to the original Mafia II game: the DLC’s (Jimmy's Vendetta and Joe's Adventures alike) do not have any checkpoints within the missions that auto-save your game. Even if you manage to complete a mission, only to get busted or killed before returning to the “safe zone”, you’ll still have to restart the entire mission, following the tradition of old GTA games. There’s also a time limit in every mission, which is also quite annoying, stressing and completely uncalled for. Mafia 2 occasionally had time limits as well, for instance when a gang mate was in desperate need of medical attention from serious gunshot wounds. That made the time limit perfect justified. But here it’s just ridiculous; what difference could it possibly make if your foes bite the bullet one fraction of a minute sooner or later? Makes very, very little sense to the story...

Bugs and inconsistencies

Nice set o' wheels you got there, Jimmy!
Would be a great shame if something
happened to 'em... 
There are also a few inconsistencies in the game. Cars seemingly reappear and disappear more or less at random. The car you drove when you started the mission usually reappear when you finish it, even though you left it long ago. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes a car that you had parked right in front of you before starting a mission, disappears into thin air once the said mission kicks in.

-Hey! Where'd my car go?
There’s also a specific segment in the game where you’re supposed to thrash a bar. After some shooting, the game tells you to keep shooing a little more, assuring you that you’re almost done. So you keep on shooting and shooting while nothing happens. I nearly drained all my weapons of ammo shattering beer glasses, paintings and furniture. Still nothing. So I decided to just leave the bar, and I took a few shots at the windows, and before you could say Barabing! The game finally let me finish the mission.

Speaking of ammo - you won’t find much of it laying around in this DLC. In Mafia 2 you never feared running out of clips, because virtually every guy you took out left some ammo for you to snag. Well, not in Jimmy’s Vendetta, for some odd reason, so you constantly need to stock up on ammo between missions, which also slows the entire gameplay down, much like all the driving parts already do.

Verdict

Jimmy’s Vendetta is a pretty entertaining game, with loads of action and destructive fun. It also has more than its fair share of annoyances, and comes with quite a steep difficulty curve. With a story not even remotely as deep and compelling as that one of the original Mafia 2, or even no-brainers like Saints Row for that matter, the whole game feels a bit planless and uninspiring once you're past the initial jail breaking mission.

Jimmy's Vendetta is not a long game, but should at least keep you busy for about 5 hours or more. After you've tried the 3 different types of missions a few times each, they already start getting slightly monotonous, however. The car theft missions especially. By also introducing a time limit for every mission, the game developers make Jimmy’s Vendetta feel a bit like playing an arcade racer like Crazy Taxi with guns. Guns that you can’t fire from your car, unfortunately…

See also

Mafia 2 II - PC/Xbox 360/PS3 Game Review by theJo

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