VIDEOGAME REVIEW | After finishing the brilliant L.A. Noire a while back, I went looking for something somewhat similar, and ended up moving to the other side of the law, treading into the mob world.

So what's the story - morning glory?

Vito's homecoming from Ze War
Much like L.A. Noire, Mafia II picks up at the end of World War II, where the lead character Vito, who's living in the States gets sent back to Sicily to fight his former home country and the nazis. Starting out like your average war shooter, the game soon moves us back to USA, where Vito meets up with what's left of his family, which appears to be his mother and sister. He also reunite with his old buddy Joe, who helps Vito from going back to the war, through some shady tricks and paperwork. This is where the actual game takes a start, as Joe start introducing you to one mobster bigshot after the next, getting you involved in various jobs, ranging from extortion, theft, and drug dealing, to assassins and destruction of property.

Difficulty level and gameplay

This is where you'll spend a great deal of your time...
The cars can all be upgraded, repainted and get a
custom licence plate, but with a smörgåsbord of other
rides to steal, you won't see any reason to bother.
As you climb the food chain towards mafia "stardom", you generally start off with easier, low profile jobs, like punching some guys for money and selling illegal cigarettes. You soon get to perform a larger heist at a museum, where it also gets drastically more challenging, putting your stealth abilities as well as shooting and covering to a test. From then on, the difficulty level never quite peeks notably until the last chapters in the game, however. Unlike certain sandbox games, Mafia II also auto-saves frequently at checkpoints during the chapters themselves, and you'll never fail a mission getting caught on you way back to your safe house to save the game. This is certainly a well welcomed feature, although a manual save functionality would be too.

Box art (duh!)
Mafia 2 is not the lenghtiest game, and it's quite linear for an "open world" type of game, so the inevitable  comparisons to GTA and the likes aren't quite justified. But what GTA and Saints Row offer in plenty of fun side missions and mayhem, Mafia 2 instead makes up with a compelling, cinematic story with much more depth adding a great deal of suspense to the game, making it that much more interesting than its competitors. Whilst being short-lasting, the game delivers throughout its full length, offering a lot of variety with superb gameplay mechanics, ranging from driving to cover based shooting, to man-on-man fist fights, to even some stealth action, as mentioned earlier. There is a whole lot of driving between locations involved, in what appears like an "open" city, filled with loads of traffic and people roaming the streets and making conversations to one another. But other than observing or messing with people, there actually isn't much to do other than beating the story missions. You can go shopping (or robbing) in stores for new outfits (helps you get the police off your back), weapons and car upgrades, but as you'll come across new cars and weapons all the time throughout the missions, there's really no reason to bother buying them. Even less useful is buying food and drinks to replenish health, as you'll recover automatically over a short period of time, when getting hurt.

The game has some slower missions mixed in with the action, as I mentioned. But the change of pace is not necessarily a bad thing, because when the game actually do pick up the pace, all the destruction and killing doesn't appear as completely senseless and repetitive, as in many other games.

But, at the end of the day, you can't help but feeling that you've been served a whole city to go bonkers in, just for a tease. Apart from following the story, there's really nothing else you can, or will find wortwhile to do in it. But all in all, with an intriguing, well-scripted story with vibrant characters and fairly well voice acting - along with well made game mechanics, offering lots of variation - help creating a varied and much enjoyable game.

Score

For those of you who are too lazy to either read the above review, or simply play the dang game themselves to make their opinion about it:

I give this game 4 F-bombs out of 5!


Stick around for my reviews of the Mafia 2 DLC's Jimmy's Vendetta, and Joe's Adventures coming up soon! Thanks for reading this far!

Mafia II is available for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This review refers to the PC version.

See also

Jimmy's Vendetta Mafia 2 II DLC review

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