GOONL!NE Advent Calander 2010: #14 – Mafia II

By Will Swabrick.

Yeah, you know the deal. Basically, this is just an excuse to use all the Godfather quotes we know, which turn out to be very few (“I’m going to make you a very good offer that you would find hard to turn down”). But Mafia II seems to be about more than just cool quotes. To call it GTA in the ’50s would be lazy, but basically true; you’ll drive, shoot and steal around Empire Bay, in the crispest of suits and the coolest of hats. Who needs iPods, eh?

Facts and figures for you:  Mafia 2 is a gritty drama which chronicles the rise of Vito Scaletta, the son of Sicilian immigrants (Just call them Italian, they probably don’t mind). As the game progresses, Vito will join a crime family and become “a made man.” As ever with sandbox games these days, the game will include multiple situations where the player can decide the outcome and their choice will lead to one of several different endings. The story begins with Vito returning home on leave from World War II. Vito had joined the U.S. military as a way of avoiding jail time for a botched robbery, and when Vito reunites with his old friend, Joe Barbaro, and the two quickly embark upon a life of crime. Obviously.

As ever, the criminals are full of life. The pair’s criminal ascension starts with Mikey, a car mechanic who gets in a conflict with Joe. Mikey also needs a certain type of car to chop for parts, and will pay $400 for one that the police are not tailing. Soon enough, Vito, Joe, and Henry Tomasino (already a made man in the Clemente family) find themselves battling with, for, against, and around three crime factions: the Falconi, Vinci and Clemente families. Vito is later introduced to Eddie Scarpa (a big shot in one of the three crime families). Another character is Marty, a young, novice getaway driver who takes Vito and Joe to the Empire Arms hotel in the mission “Room Service” involving the assassination of the Clemente family’s don.

The game will contain two hours of in-game cutscenes, which might not be as much as MGS 4, but will still keep you occupied. The original game, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, had a screenplay of 400 pages, opposed to the 700 pages of the sequel. Daniel Vávra, the writer and director of the original and the sequel, discussed the new angle of the game stating: “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.”

The game’s focus is on the gritty, small-scale rise of one man in the Mafia – don’t expect massive firefights, but instead back-alley deals that go south, or seedy odd-jobs for expendable bosses. The shooting, as always with 2K Games, looks tight, responsive and fun, with a brilliant destructible cover system. Driving has been toned down from the often sim-like Mafia I, and sliding in the snow looks gleefully dangerous. An incredibly polished engine sits at the base of the game, and we can’t wait to get our grubby hands on it in 2010. Just remember Carlo: “You touch my sister again, I’ll kill you.”