For eight long years, the gaming world has awaited the release of “Mafia II,” sequel to the highly successful first “Mafia.” And thankfully, it was worth the wait. Despite a few minor problems, “Mafia II” brings a dark, solid story, as well as an open world that’s (almost) as realistic as a videogame can be.
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC
“Mafia II” tells the tale of Vito Scaletta, a man who is trying to avoid following the same path as his family — living as poor Italian immigrants and struggling just to get by in America. After returning home from World War II, for which he enlisted just to avoid jail time for a failed robbery attempt, he meets up with his childhood friend, Joe Barbaro. The two attempt to make a name for themselves in the world of organized crime and live the life of a true mafioso. However, as they come to realize, all the booze, money and broads in the world can’t help them escape from the fact that the life they chose isn’t exactly as glamorous as they thought.
“Mafia II” takes place in a rather extensive city where players can do anything from buying guns to knocking back a few brews at the local bar. Every inch of its landscape has been planned and well thought-out, down to the hobos standing by a barrel fire in the back alley. It’s now a little easier to understand just why exactly it might have taken eight years to get this sequel off the ground.
This game receives another high mark for the very cinematic vibe it gives off. “Mafia II” has roughly 700 pages of script — in other words, a considerable amount of the hours spent playing this game will involve watching cut scenes and trying to understand just what is going on in the minds of these characters. These scenes are often very powerful and emotional, and should not just be dismissed as filler for less actual gaming.
There are, however, a few problems with the game. Many games nowadays have received praise for their ability to simulate the real world as best as possible. But it’s hard to take some of the situations in “Mafia II” seriously. For example, the police don’t mind if you run a red light, but if you’re speeding, you’re in trouble. In one instance, the player witnesses Joe and Vito gun down a rival don in his own car, Sonny Corleone-style, right in the middle of a city street in front of countless potential witnesses. They then proceed to drive home — no police, no safehouse, nothing. While videogames will never perfectly simulate the real world, these glaringly unbelievable scenes should have been taken into account.
Still, while “Mafia II” may have had a few logical errors, it tells an entertaining and emotional story and provides a world where nearly anything is possible. Those who have played the first game would be turning down an unrefusable offer by not looking into it.