2010 Reviews

Mafia II

  • Review Date: 2014-04
  • Release Date: 2010-08
  • Developer: 2K Czech
  • Rating: 7.0

Mafia II seems to have been fairly well received. 77% for the PC version. Odd, I found it a pretty damn boring game. By the time I got to chapter 3 (of 15) I was counting down the chapters, just playing for the sake of finishing it. The only thing that kept me going was the story - nothing more. The graphics are completely average, despite what other reviewers have said. The gameplay is dull and only heats up every couple of hours with some proper combat. But even then, you have to sit through a story going all over the place until it actually starts to get interesting in the last few chapters.

So I'll start with graphics. Like I said above, other reviewers have mentioned how good the slightly fictional city of Empire Bay, NY looked. Perhaps they need to play something other than a sandbox game. Most of the games I've played this year have looked better. Yes there are some large scenic shots where you can look at the Empire State Building or Brooklyn Bridge. But everything is a little colourless, almost like a blue haze over everything. There's a lack of rich detail or high quality textures. There were a few times indoors where I thought this looks good - nice details and lighting. Indoors is fine. But outdoors where you're driving around, which is most of this game, it's a bit bland. But hey, that's sandbox gaming for you. It does look a lot better than most sandbox games up till 2010. A sunset wouldn't have hurt though instead of the same blue/grey skies.

Gameplay is the biggest issue with Mafia II. In short, it's bloody boring. Occasionally you'll get a cover-based shootout, often just with handguns where headshots are important, and getting caught in the open renders you dead in no time. But between gunfights there are crappy hand-fights and other random tasks to complete. Things like cleaning toilets or picking up the correctly coloured cigarette cartons to hand to your buddy. But that's minor compared to the driving. This game would be half the length if it weren't for all the goddamn driving. Every time you have a task you have to drive several minutes to get there, usually about as far away as you could imagine. The driving isn't even fun, the cars handle like absolute shit. Just because this is how cars handled in the 1940's doesn't make it fun! Other road users seem to be oblivious to you, often turning straight into instead of following road rules. The police are down just about every block and can be very annoying at times, especially when you're in a slow car and can't actually get away. They'll just keep ramming you and you're only chance is to get out and try to shoot them all or hope they give up the chase.

Also the game is quite linear. You'll only have one mission at a time, never any optional side missions or mini-games. Personally, I don't mind. Some of the side missions in other open world games are a chore. So while Mafia II is open world, you don't actually have anything to do in this world outside of your main mission.

What is good about Mafia II, its only actual positive feature, is the story. You play as Vito Scaletta, a pretty dull and dormant character throughout a couple decades of his life. For a long time it does feel like you're just doing playing through different episodes in his life, but not really leading to anything. Fortunately it does get better as you meet certain people, build alliances and, eventually, see how things turn. Only the ending was a complete let-down - 2K Czech really dropped the ball on the ending. While others have complained that the story is just another Mafia script that we've seen before in movies like The Godfather, well yes but what else can you expect? A story about Italian Mafia in NYC in the mid-90's is going to be about crime and the family. Plenty of cliches? Yes, but without those clich├ęs you'll lose what the Mafia is. It'll just become another gang.

Overall, you'll enjoy Mafia II for the storyline. Not the linear yet sandbox design. Not the hours of frigging driving. Not the bland gameplay and combat. Just the story. For me I need more than a story in my games, so I rate this a bit lower than others. Very little replay value.

Mafia II