Mafia II Review
Mob movies have signaled high points in movies for years. Films like Goodfellas and The Godfather have made a massive cultural imprint on popular culture, and are regarded among the greatest films of all time. Mafia II takes obvious inspiration from these classics. The tale that is told throughout the game manages to enthrall, but gameplay blemishes and a lifeless world hold it back from greatness.
Mafia II tells the tale of Vito Scaletta, an Italian immigrant who rises through the ranks of the crime infested Empire Bay. Interesting characters color the experience, though many feel like they are taken directly from the aforementioned movies. Plot developments and twists aplenty keep the story interesting throughout the 12-15 hour campaign.
Shooting is imperfect, but functional. Like so many other 3rd person action games, cover is an integral part of the game. This is especially important (with one well-placed shotgun blast ending Vito’s life; death can occur within seconds.) This would be fine if cover kept you consistently protected, but levels later in the game succumb to poor cover placement, which can lead to frequent and frustrating death, (especially with one Molotov wielding enemy late in the game who basically disregards cover and damages the player either way.) Shooting is overwhelmingly adequate
Stealth sequences are mixed in occasionally to add variety, and they work fine for the most part. Stealth mode can be toggled with a simple button press, and moving around works the same way control is handled normally. Ultimately, the linearity of the stealth sequences makes stealth a boring option, as there is always one path through each sequence that you have to follow to progress. AI is also inconsistent (sometimes enemies are completely oblivious, and other times they will spot you almost immediately). Stealth is almost always optional, providing more money or benefits most of the time, and running-and-gunning is always an option.
The most disappointing aspect of the game is the open-world elements, or rather, the lack thereof. Though advertised as an open world game, Empire Bay has no side missions, nor any strangers to meet. Stores are littered across the city, but none help make the world feel and more alive. There are no people to talk to, or interact with. The world just acts as a vehicle to go from one mission to the other, and sometimes just feels flat-out unnecessary.
Technologically, Mafia II performs admirably. Graphics are still in the upper echelon of games now, especially for a semi-open world game. Sound design is also commendable. It all performs without a hitch, even with bigger action sequences.
All in all, Mafia II is a very good game. An excellent story holds up the sometimes poor gameplay, and makes a product that is definitely worth playing for any Gangster fan.
The Good: Great graphics and excellent story
The Bad: Mediocre stealth
The Ugly: Broken boss encounter late in the game