Despite their substantial differences, there's something about games like Grand Theft Auto and Mafia that collectively keep me hungry for more. Perhaps I just enjoy the action aspect entailed by their premises, or perhaps I'm just a homicidal maniac who enjoys using his vehicle to clear the sidewalks of pedestrians with the excuse of furthering the cause of natural selection. As well as both of the previous statements, I prefer to believe that what makes these games so interesting and so addicting is the story bundled with them. I wholeheartedly adored the story of Grand Theft Auto as much as one can love a murderous immigrant in search of the American dream. That being said, I think you'll know why I think I'll love Mafia 2.
I think one big reason I'm excited for this game is due to my strange obsession with the idea of organized crime in literature, movies, and video games. Action movies must be the reason for this strange interest since I am one to follow the rules and even feel remorse after killing a bug. I'm the guy that doesn't tip the board over after losing a game in Monopoly, and that's saying a lot, especially when you cross the board seven times with only $5 before finally landing on an enemy hotel. Nonetheless, the idea of organized crime excites me because it provides a wealth of opportunity to expand upon the main character as well as his comrades-in-arms. I'll admit it, the only portion of the first game I have tried is the demo, and even then I didn't get very far. But that shouldn't deter you from considering my senseless opinions. Out of all the things I look for in a good game, story is among the top deciders, if not first. By looking at how Mafia 2 has been shaping up it's obvious it was a top priority for the 2K Czech developers, as well.
One of the things that really stuck out for me was the detailed cutscenes they've shown so far. The character models look so detailed you can see the individual specs on a person's face and the voice-overs sound so authentic that they'd beat the Italian out of an Olive Garden. These great looking cutscenes and character voices help accentuate the story of Vito; an Italian immigrant in Empire Bay who has come back from WWII with little financial security. In hopes of bettering himself, he and his long-time family friend, Joe, join the Mafia to work their way up to the top. You'll start off doing smaller jobs like stealing cars and as the game progresses you'll be doing more important things to secure Vito a higher position in the Mafia.
However, there's something you should ask yourself before you decide to delve into the world of Mafia 2: do you enjoy story-driven games? Now, I know I said this plenty of times before, but now it's especially important. The structure of Mafia 2 is different from games like Grand Theft Auto because it is more based around the missions than free-roaming. That doesn't mean you won't be able to visit/rob stores and lollygag around with the local citizens, because you most certainly will be able to and in plenty of interesting ways. I'm basically trying to say that your aim in Mafia 2 would much better be suited to role-playing as your main character rather than going around and doing a bunch of things that would otherwise make no sense. Or better yet, if you're not concerned with the story and the characters then this might not be for you.
Compared to GTA IV, Mafia 2 is about 1/3 the size. If it sounds disappointing, we're in the same boat (You can't swim, by the way). As much as I would love to see the world alive and filled with more things to do, that's going to be a little hard to believe, but it's still to early to tell. It's certainly a point that I'm unsure about: of course, having a smaller map allows you to have more time to make the map more interactive, however, with the game only spanning around 10 hours with the story missions and no multiplayer component, I can't help but feel a bit uneasy about it.
Anyway, the attention to the smallest details do bring me more hope than worry. For instance, you can open the hoods and trunks of cars. It may sound like a small and insignificant feature, but small things like that always make the difference for me. I remember listening to one of the developer podcasts where I heard an entertaining bit about holding up a store owner, fleeing the store when the cops were called, and then coming back to the same store in a new set of threads only to be found out after closer inspection by the store owner you previously held up. And just like the voice-overs, many other aspects of the game are held to the same standard of authenticity. For instance, all of the music featured in the game is music you would hear during the 40's and 50's in America, which means your radio won't be tuned to "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" while you're cruising down the Empire Bay streets. This goes for stuff in the game from clothing all the way to advertisements, and it seems to help Vito's campaign to power become more immersive.
There's not much to the combat part of the game I can bring light too. It seems pretty awesome and simple, as well as the cover system. Accessing cover is a cinch and the guns seem just as authentic as the game's other components. What makes me excited about the combat system is it's deadliness. If you're not taking cover in a firefight, you're going to die pretty soon. I much prefer this realistic approach as opposed to feeling invincible. Also worth mentioning: the hand-to-hand combat system seems particularly well-developed. When in a fight, there are a number of different moves you can unleash on your opponent to defeat them, rather than mashing one button constantly in an attempt out punch your enemy.
Out of all the upcoming games to look forward to, Mafia 2 is certainly high up on my list. It's dedication to presenting an authentic and detailed story in a realistic manor is something you don't see often. Even with my worries about alleged repetitive mission types, a small map size, and a short campaign, Mafia 2 is turning out to be an offer I can't refuse.
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