Mafia II Hands-on

<i>Playboys</i>, shoot-outs, and car chases are all in a day's work for Vito Scaletta in the latest Mafia II demo.


Mafia II

We recently had a chance to play a new demo of Mafia II--an open-world action game set against the backdrop of organized crime families vying for power in the 1950s. At the beginning of the demo, we saw Vito Scaletta--the game's lead character--inside of his home just as he receives a phone call to meet up with some of his compatriots to find and eventually kill a man from a rival crime family. But before we went outdoors, we spent a few minutes looking around Vito's house when we happened upon a vintage issue of Playboy magazine. Upon picking the magazine up, it automatically opened to an actual picture from that issue--so just as a word of caution, performing this action in a public place with onlookers isn't the best of ideas.

With that little bit of not-safe-for-work tomfoolery out of the way, we made our way outdoors and headed toward the garage next to Vito's house. Once inside, it seems you can select from a few different types of cars that are faithful to the era. We selected our vehicle and headed out onto the streets, and while the temptation to wreak havoc by running over pedestrians or slamming into other cars was great, we stuck to the designated route on the map. Thus, we made our way to the meeting point--a distillery located a bit closer to the downtown area. Driving seems responsive, but the vehicle physics still feel accurate to the way the cars of the 1950s handled, so don't expect to drive at full speed and then stop on a dime or make a hairpin turn.

We steadily made our way over to the distillery and were careful not to attract attention from the police officers in the car in front of us. We finally reached our destination and took up a position in the building across the street, waiting for our target to show up. When he finally arrived, all hell broke loose as we manned a machine gun in the window and tried to take him down before he could seek safety in the building. Instead of aiming for individual hoodlums, we aimed right for the engines of the cars, which--after a few bursts of machine gun fire--exploded and took out the goons behind them. But the target still managed to get away, so we were told to give chase, run out of the building, and follow him into the distillery.

Take cover!
Take cover!

After a brief scuffle with an enemy who made his way into our location (who happened to meet a particularly nasty end thanks to a point-blank bullet to the face), we headed into the building where a massive firefight broke out. Thankfully, it was pretty easy to move from cover to cover--in this case, barrels and cement pillars throughout the first room--and take out a few thugs with Vito's pistol. But it's also worth noting that your AI-controlled buddies also seem to do a solid job of taking out enemies when you're in a less than optimal position to take shots. In fact, there are some spots in this building where it's generally a good idea to let your allies move in front of you (when they actually can) because you never know when you might turn that corner and have some enemy's scattershot greet your face and take you down. It's just better to let them take the damage for you.

Pick up new weapons to get the upper hand.
Pick up new weapons to get the upper hand.

The firefights seemed to get more intense as we reached the upper levels of the building, where we ditched Vito's pistol for a shotgun. After taking out a duo of enemies equipped with their own shotguns, we headed into an elevator and up to the top level of the building where we found our target cowering in a corner. As Vito and his crew moved in to kill him, the rather rotund enemy managed to get one final shot off, injuring Henry Tomasino (a friend of Vito's) by shooting him in the leg. And as luck would have it, the building you're in will also come crashing down thanks to a fire started earlier, so not only do you have to escape the building, but you also have to make sure Henry and the other member of your crew gets out safely.

Naturally, this isn't as easy as it sounds because entrances that were once open are now blocked off by fire. Eventually, you'll make your way outside the building and to an awaiting escape vehicle. Just as you get in the car, the cops show up and give chase as you try to make it back to the safe house. Just as we reached the bridge, we spotted a blockade of police cars and the demo came to an end. Overall, we got a pretty good taste of the different facets of Mafia II's gameplay, but we're eager to see how the rest of the story pans out when Mafia II hits the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on August 24.

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