PS3 Reviews: Mafia II Review

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Mafia II Review

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Graphics:

 

7.0

Gameplay:

 

7.7

Sound:

 

8.2

Control:

 

7.3

Replay Value:

 

7.4

Online Gameplay:

 

7.0

Overall Rating:       7.4

 

 

Publisher:

2K Games

Developer:

2K Czech

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action/Adventure

Being a big fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, I figured I’d quite naturally enjoy the original Mafia. However, I didn’t play it on PC (clearly the superior version at the time) and I found it to be lacking in a variety of areas; areas in which GTA typically excels. But I had a heard a great deal about the sequel’s improvements and entered my play time of Mafia II with much anticipation. Now, as you read this review, you should remember a crucial fact- despite my complaints, I had fun, and if you are willing and able to accept that story supersedes gameplay and technical accomplishment in terms of quality, you’ll want to play it. I don’t wish to imply that the mechanics are poor; they’re just standard third-person shooting elements, and the visual presentation isn’t anything special. It’s just that the story and atmosphere reign supreme and the entire production doesn’t quite have the chops to support added immersion.

Much has been made about the lacking visuals on the console versions, and perhaps specifically the PlayStation 3 version. Bear in mind that I did not have access to the Xbox 360 version of the game, but we all know the PC version is once again the best graphical iteration of Mafia II. That being said, bitter complaints aren’t necessarily warranted. The animations and movements can often appear stiff, the syncing of lips with voices is mediocre, and we’re missing those intricate, impressive details we often associate with top-quality titles. In some ways, it really does appear to be stark and very last-gen in nature but if you examine the city as a whole, you will find little in the way of crucial flaws. In truth, it’s a capable presentation. The dark, gritty underbelly of Empire Bay is appropriately depicted and we feel right at home in our mobster digs; this fitting environment isn’t exactly sparkling, but it fits.

The sound is better thanks to great voice acting and an effective soundtrack. The actual gameplay effects aren’t anything to write home about, and there are a few balance issues in regards to weapon fire, music, and voices. This sort of contributes to the overall technical lacking and – perhaps unsurprisingly – kind of enhances the graphical drawbacks. But those voiceovers really are cut straight out of a “GoodFellas” or “Godfather” picture in terms of believability, and the music is in the same boat. I’m fairly certain 2K used actual tracks from the time period on display, which certainly enhances the authentic feel of the whole wise guy atmosphere. Wandering into a bar or brothel really feels just about right and everything from the crack of a skull to the loud carousing of your comrades sounds accurate. It’s just that once again, as soon as you get involved in the gameplay, you might get that “meh” sensation…

You play as Vito Scaletta (I almost want to change my name now; it’s so freakin’ cool), who has returned from World War II to find his family facing some money troubles. His mother doesn’t have much in the first place and with that debt hovering over their heads, stress is high and Vito decides he’s just sick of the whole slum thing. The best option? Organized crime, of course. It’s time to run amok in Empire Bay and grab hordes of ill-gotten gains, all the time taking out anyone who gets in your way and indulging in most every vice life has to offer in a big, lively city. But wait, here’s where we come to a little eccentricity that might surprise you- most may be expecting a very similar environment to GTA or other sandbox games, but you have to realize that Mafia II is very mission-based. The city is open for exploration; you can purchase weapons, change your threads, and even get your license plate changed if the heat is too high.

Still, it’s all based around what you’re doing. I drove around for a good 45 minutes before I realized that nothing was going to really happen until I decided to start the next mission. In other words, I wasn’t going to find any random odd jobs; I wouldn’t stumble across new or alternate objectives. Unfortunately, this trait makes the game feel a little empty. As you play the missions, you realize you really appreciate that big, thriving metropolis but when left to your own devices, you’re gonna get bored pretty quickly. Still, I’m not going to be harp on this as harshly as other critics, and that’s because I happen to like a focus on story, even if it’s technically oriented within a sandbox world. Besides, I don’t recall doing anything of great importance when wandering about on my own in GTA, either. It was fun, but only because I could perform all sorts of random, silly nonsense. And there’s nothing really to stop you from performing similar antics in Mafia II; it’s just not as dynamic or “impactful,” I guess.

The control feels a little wonky at times and I’m not the biggest fan of the responsiveness of the cover mechanic but other than that, you likely won’t have much trouble controlling Vito. Most of your encounters with bad guys will entail the standard gunfight approach in third-person shooters: take cover, look for openings, and if the situation presents itself, rush forward and finish the deal in a brutal up-close-and-personal fashion. Basically, you’ll know what to expect. The game does shake things up by providing the player with a few different missions that involve some degree of stealth, but most of the time, it’s all about being careful during massive firefights. This underworld crime adventure isn’t exactly forgiving so you always have to stick to cover, and taking risks is usually an ill-advised strategy. However, I have to say that this is the second straight game I’ve played where I can take damage even in cover…except in contrast to Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, I think this might be an actual flaw in Mafia II. Hard to say.

Everything really is quite standard. Even the hand-to-hand stuff sort of feels a little “vanilla,” if you ask me, and just because taking a bullet looks and feels quasi-authentic, the gameplay is usually a rinse-and-repeat process. That all being said, I do like the game. The reason is simply because the story is great and the environment is very cool; the developers did a good job of making me feel as if I were a true-blue wise guy. I enjoyed the drama; the cinematography is excellent thanks to a lot of dynamic camera angles during cut-scenes. While the gameplay doesn’t necessarily include much in the way of innovation, other designers can take a cue from 2K concerning the art of storytelling scenes in video games. I mean, even though the words don’t sync up with the lips too well, the dialogue is well-written and emotional, and you’ll want to take on the next mission just to see what happens next.

To me, the importance of a good story is paramount to the experience when analyzing a game like this. Yeah, the graphics aren’t the best you’ll see and it’s unfortunate the console versions have to take a back seat to the PC version (again), but the atmosphere works. And while I still question that frustrating taking-damage-when-in-cover thing, and while I still say the cover mechanic isn’t quite right, the gameplay doesn’t necessarily suffer from poor controls. You can progress without much in the way of irritation provided you have the requisite patience, the story is deep and nicely produced, the voices and music are a big help, and really, you do feel like a mobster. The flaws just sort of bog down the entire production, and you also might get seriously ticked off when the almost clairvoyant authorities get in your way for the umpteenth time. If they could just clean this up the whole way ‘round for Mafia III, it’ll become the first must-play game in the series.

8/24/2010 Ben Dutka

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Comments (37 posts)

Sir Shak
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @ 10:03:14 PM
Reply

Son, I am disappoint.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 5 down Disagree with this comment

Killa Tequilla
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 4:14:26 AM

Hey, hey make sure you don't buy the game used >:/ it makes developers angry they don't get a few extra bucks out of it.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 3 down Disagree with this comment

Underdog15
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 10:00:01 AM

*sigh*

Better than filling the pockets of Gamestop... (who, by the way, are richer than any game dev...) good thing you know where your loyalties lie...

Last edited by Underdog15 on 8/25/2010 10:02:30 AM

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 1:31:34 PM

I am too. I was a big fan of the 1st Mafia and I was expecting more from this game. Rental then bargain bin purchase for me.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Killa Tequilla
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 2:19:27 PM

Underdog15 how is Gamestop richer than any game developer? I WANNA KNOW!! Even Rockstar?

Agree with this comment 2 up, 3 down Disagree with this comment

Vito_Scaletta
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @ 10:18:48 PM
Reply

Well I'm not disappointed I have been playing it all day and I love it. Well I guess the game isn't for everyone you know but thats okay because for the people that do enjoy this type of game will get one hell of an good time out of this.

Agree with this comment 5 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

BikerSaint
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 4:13:48 PM

Glad you're back, LV!!!!

Agree with this comment 2 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @ 10:20:21 PM
Reply

Thanks for the review Ben, based on it and my own feelings this won't even reach my collection via bargain bin. I'm sure it will sell pretty well though because of the uninformed masses and Mob fans, but it sounds like it aught to be at the bottom of the east river with concrete galoshes.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 8/24/2010 10:20:45 PM

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Qubex
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @ 11:41:17 PM

World, it is probably still worth a play, maybe a rent if you can get through it quickly.

The problem is you want to explore Empire Bay GTA style, but that is not possible. The allure is their to explore the open world, but its not that open, which is a shame really.

I won't be picking this up, but rather F1 2010. I will still wait on a review for that one.

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

Agree with this comment 2 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

main_event05
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 8:24:24 AM

I could care less about the game, the Mafia doesn't do anything for me. But, how was/is it not possible?

Agree with this comment 1 up, 3 down Disagree with this comment

DemonNeno
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 @ 10:40:13 PM
Reply

I played the hell out of the first game. I'm planning on doing the same with this one, but when the time is right. I know the jerky controls (PC) were a bit frustrating and the world, even back then, didn't thrive with things to do, but it did have a passionate frill for cars. Does this game even get depth in cars?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 12:10:15 AM

Yeah, sort of. Like I said, the whole atmosphere pretty much works.

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Kai200X
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 2:04:40 AM
Reply

I can say I was looking forward to buy this game until I tried the demo. I still think the game is really good, but I will wait till it get cheaper.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

___________
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 3:16:49 AM
Reply

wait this a 7.4 and K&L2 a 8.8?
i.......i....... i give up!

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NonProphet
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 3:22:07 AM

No, K&L2 received a 7.7 (at least on this site) You are mistaken.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 3:35:17 AM

You finally give up? Thank God.

Agree with this comment 10 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Nlayer
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 10:00:40 AM

Even if you disagree with Ben, he is only one reviewer with his own tastes and preferences. =/

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Underdog15
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 10:03:46 AM

*hears Christmas choirs singing joyfully*

Followed by:

Little munchkins singing, "Ding dong, the witch is dead! The mean old witch, the wicked witch! Ding Dong the wicked witch is deaaaaaaaddddd!"

He gave up!? Hooray!

Agree with this comment 7 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 10:49:27 AM

Yippee.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 8/25/2010 10:49:41 AM

Agree with this comment 7 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

darxed
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 6:17:25 PM

Uhmm you better mean what you're saying, If I see you trolling in another post then I'll be really sad...

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NonProphet
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 3:19:55 AM
Reply

Glad to hear the story is fleshed out at least. I'm a bit of graphics whore myself, its one of the reasons I have a preference for PS3 games. The mediocre visuals combined with the unoriginal gameplay make this an unlikely purchase...for the time being.

Last edited by NonProphet on 8/25/2010 3:23:05 AM

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Sir Shak
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 3:54:17 AM
Reply

Ben, this game doesn't have any online gameplay.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

main_event05
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 8:28:30 AM

I don't get it?

Agree with this comment 1 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Sir Shak
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 10:02:37 AM

Ben gave it a 7 in the online gameplay category.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 10:38:08 AM

Sorry, that was the graphics score thrown in there twice. A glitch in the system isn't letting me fix it.

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Godslim
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 5:38:45 AM
Reply

i expected pretty much that score after playing the demo....nice one ben

Agree with this comment 4 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

bOnEs
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 8:25:46 AM

same as me... i felt this was going to get mediocre reviews after seeing that there wasn't much offered in the demo... where's the incentive to explore the city??

i decided i wasn't going to buy it right then and there... i might still rent it though because, i like a good mafia story...

Agree with this comment 2 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Godslim
Thursday, August 26, 2010 @ 5:33:28 AM

yeh same i like the whole mafia thing but the game just didnt seem that great

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TheOldOne
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 7:40:43 AM
Reply

If you liked GTA IV and Saints Row 2 and you are not a fanboy of any of them, then you should at least play the demo. I bought it and I'm enjoying it so far. The soundtrack feels like hearing the music stations of Fallout 3.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

DazeOfWar
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 4:09:40 PM
Reply

I was never really to interested in this to begin with. Now after reading your review I think I'll be sitting this one out.

You would think after how long this has been in production it would of came out better.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 3 down Disagree with this comment

IronFace2
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 @ 11:46:31 PM
Reply

Just preordered this game. Cant wait until it arrives. Mafia stuff is cool. It got 7.4 so that means, its not that bad.
Im feelin confident.

Last edited by IronFace2 on 8/25/2010 11:46:49 PM

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FM23
Thursday, August 26, 2010 @ 2:32:42 AM
Reply

I'm feeling the whole story and classic presentation gimmick, but the demo exposed the games bland gameplay. Stiff character movement and lifeless shooting. Something about the shooting gives the game no impact, but it was a demo so...but the first MAFIA was like this so I can't really complain. I will complain about the $60 price tag they attached to this bad boy. I can tell I'm going to love this game, but I will wait until it goes on sale. As for now...I will rent it to see if I do want to make a final purchase and add it to my collection. Should have done that with Bioshock 2. I expected low scores from review sites, but I didn't really think Mafia 2 would score this low. Guess the demo didn't lie.

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hadouken
Thursday, August 26, 2010 @ 12:50:56 PM
Reply

I might check this out if when gets slightly cheaper.

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Naga
Thursday, August 26, 2010 @ 1:24:37 PM
Reply

loved the voice acting of The Darkness, glad that Mafia will be graced then in sound.

I think it'll need to be cheaper to get me interested

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Jonnyfreak
Tuesday, August 31, 2010 @ 12:13:30 PM
Reply

I loved this game up until the point where I was mid-mission and a door prevented me from completing the mission. I had to replay the whole chapter to get through. But then it happened again on a later level, the last save point was MILES back. Such a disappointment. I traded it in.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Lairfan
Monday, October 18, 2010 @ 4:51:51 PM
Reply

Why no mention of the terrible cliffhanger ending Ben?

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shane rullz
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 1:24:23 AM
Reply

mafia 2 is one of the best games i have ever played.graphics are excellent .as usual nvidia has enhanced its graphics by introducing the phy x which comes with the game.

the only problem with the game is its operating requirements.it needs a higher graphic card far above then the nvidia gs 8 series.all in all the game is worth playing,and gives us a true experience of the 1940's - 50 america.


do buy the game....

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