Mafia II Preview
There's no doubt about it that the first Mafia game was nothing short of a
fantastic crime-sim. If there was one game worthy of the Godfather name, it
would be Mafia. Its release followed the launch of Grand Theft Auto III, but
unlike GTA's more cartoon-like presence, Mafia boasted superb visuals that aimed
for grit and realism, in addition to an amazing story, coupled with great
gameplay. Unfortunately, the console versions of the game weren't as great as
the PC game was. But we're in a new generation, and the sequel is being
developed primarily for consoles, this time around.
Mafia II takes place in Empire City, and is set in the 1940s and 1950s. Just like the first game, you can expect to see many similarities to 1940s/50s New York when driving around Empire City, as it will feature the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and other landmarks. The game's story revolves around Vito, and picks up with his return from World War II. He chose the military over jail time, after getting caught for robbery. Upon his return, he reunites with his long-time friend Joe. A plan is devised between the two, and so their underworld campaign begins. Take-Two is claiming a very story driven game with two hours worth of game cut-scenes, and a script that consists of 700 pages, which is almost two times larger than the first game.
Mafia's writer and director, Daniel Vavra, spoke about the creation of the game's story and said: "The old game was a tribute to gangster movies, a romantic vision. Mafia 2 is grittier, real, a darker world, and the effects are based in reality". Mafia II will take you up the criminal ladder by starting you from the bottom, almost simulating the life of a gangster. But if you think you're going to be all alone in the underworld, you're sorely mistaken.
Your crime-battles will consist of three other families: the Falconis, the Vincis, and the Clementes. Situations are all yours to control, as different outcomes shape different gameplay paths, and ultimately bring you to a different ending. Screwing up a mission won't always result in having to replay it, but instead will result in suffering a consequence of some sort. And full-scale firefights will be rare, as Vito and Joe choose to run silently, and kill using stealthier measures.
With Grand Theft Auto IV boasting one of the best implementations of a living, breathing city, you can bet your bottom dollar that Take-Two wants to make sure that their other crime-game does all of that and more. An extensive list of features has been made available and it details a plethora of incredible things. For example, cars that update as the years go by; damage more realistic than anything available, including exploding gas tanks; piloting airplanes; non-playable characters with their own agendas, such as waiting for a bus, smoking, reading a paper, bums looking through garbage, etc; gyms to upgrade fighting styles and combos; gun-play somewhat similar to Gears of War; environmental interactivity that'll let you use sink faucets, switches, chairs, bottles, and radios; environmental interactivity is for either normal use, or violent use; and much more.
Take a look at the remainder of what else you can expect to see:
- Readable newspapers.
- Fully open city from the start of the game - supposedly twice larger than Mafia 1.
- Obeying laws of traffic and streets to avoid unnecessary attention.
- A home to buy, used for storing gear, cars, home base, etc.
- Buying food and drinks in restaurants to increase health.
- Customizable car - trunks can be used to hide weapons and bodies.
- On-screen map for navigation.
- All new checkpoint system.
Visually, Mafia II is looking fantastic. If these screenshots are any
indication of the final product, I'd go as far as to say that we're looking at a
game that may soon topple Grand Theft Auto IV from a purely aesthetic level. If
2K Czech indeed manages to make a world that is every bit as superb as GTAIV's,
then the technical bar for a living, breathing city will be rising yet again
next year. Thankfully, in terms of console leadership, Mafia II doesn't have a
lead-console, as the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC are the lead-platforms in
Mafia II is still about a year away from release, so the wait is on. A simultaneous launch is expected for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC next Spring.
4/26/2008 Arnold Katayev