Mafia II Updated Hands-On - PhysX, APEX, and 3D Vision

We take an exclusive look at some of the high-end graphical and 3D features available for the PC version of this upcoming third-person action game.

2K Games' Mafia II will be the sequel to the cult classic Mafia, a third-person action game that was sadly mislabeled as nothing more than a 1920's-era Grand Theft Auto. The truth was that the original PC version of Mafia, released in 2002, was a state-of-the-art action game with great voice acting, an intriguing story, and an authentic atmosphere that made you feel like were a big-city mobster back in the Roaring Twenties. Just when you thought you were out, 2K Games is looking to pull you back in with a sequel that takes place in the 1940s and 1950s. It will also support some of the most high-end 3D effects available on the PC, and we recently had a chance to take an exclusive look.

Mafia II on the PC will be supported by additional physics effects that will make clothing animations and explosions look even more realistic.

For Mafia II, 2K Games has partnered with computer hardware manufacturer Nvidia to be the first PC game to integrate APEX, a new graphical framework that incorporates the company's PhysX physics modeling engine to create realistic-looking object movement and interactions in-game. (To clarify, both the PC and console versions of the game will be supported by PhysX, but only the PC version will have APEX.) Specifically, the PC version of Mafia II will take advantage of two different aspects of APEX technology. The first, the "clothing module," will realistically model flowing clothes on what are designated as "primary characters." In the case of Mafia II, this means Vito (the protagonist) and any other characters that happen to be up close to him will benefit from this module. The APEX clothing module realistically makes trench coats flap in the wind and sway while characters walk or run.

The second APEX module, the "destruction module," models realistic damage and deformation on exploding objects, as well as the concussive force of a powerful explosion with an "invisible force field" that realistically sends any sufficiently light objects (or characters) flying. We watched a demonstration of this in action with an exploding car, which smashed nearby crates to bits and sent their splinters--and a nearby mobster--hurtling through the air.

It also offers Mafia II an enhanced particle system that creates discrete and unique, procedurally generated debris when you or other characters destroy any of the game's deformable objects. The demonstration we watched was from the Wild Ones level we've covered previously--specifically, the part where Vito and his gangster buddies use tommy guns and Molotov cocktails to tear a rickety wooden diner to shreds. The scraps of wood and shards of glass realistically went flying with each explosion, and we're told that no two play-throughs should produce the exact same scraps and shards.

After watching specific demonstrations of APEX in action, we then sat down to play an updated version of the Wild Ones. Like before, it culminated in a terse, team-based gun battle against a gang of heavily armed greasers but with some backup from Vito's computer-controlled buddies. The actual train yard level in which the shootout took place looked a bit cleaner and new gameplay features had been added since our last play-through. Vito can now use the jump key to mantle over low obstacles (and can hop into empty boxcars) and also dynamically take cover by running into the vicinity of the nearest cover area and hitting the cover key. This will make him take a running slide along the ground and smoothly transition to cover.

Mafia II's environments will look more realistic if you're wearing 3D Vision goggles.

While this challenging shootout looked pretty good, it looked even better with 3D Vision goggles--a hardware accessory that Nvidia has supported with recent, big-name games like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Resident Evil 5. With the goggles on and the 3D depth-of-field effects activated, the on-foot shootout was subtly enhanced by emphasizing the differences in distance between Vito's current position and the wrecked sidecar in front of him that his buddy Joe was using for cover. The effect also enhances the appearance of whatever weapons you're holding--using a weapon with a scope feels much more like you're looking down the barrel of the gun. The mission ended with Vito and Joe stealing a couple of pricey hot rods to sell off. 3D Vision is a lot more apparent when driving because you can adjust the effect to "push" your car "further into" the screen, which subtly makes the environments around you jut outward from the screen as you pass each landmark.

Mafia II looks sharper and plays better than the last time we got our hands on the game, and the PC version of the game will look especially sharp if you happen to own some Nvidia 3D goggles. The game is scheduled to ship later this year.

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171 comments
killdamn
killdamn

@GamingWizzard Wow... you're definitely not making yourself look like an NVIDIA fanboy are you?

GamingWizzard
GamingWizzard

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

k0k05_1980
k0k05_1980

i loved the first 1 and can't wait to get my hands on this 1

Jimmygee123
Jimmygee123

Never actually played the first mafia to be honest. (Commence stoning) But this one looks good. Think i need to upgrade my coal powered PC.

Hermes33
Hermes33

Nice to see the focus on PC here rather than console. I wonder though... when the game is finally released and Gamespot do the actual review, the *video* review will be specifically for the console version? (as usual in recent months). It's as if Gamespot thinks that most console players can't read so they *need* a video. :D

SDSkarface
SDSkarface

will apex work for people with ATI cards? cuz Nvidias been getting whupped 3 generations now,they havent been relevant since their 8800 series.

spag007
spag007

This new "APEX" thing sounds like a copy of the beloved Euphoria engine, but less realistic. You just can't beat Euphoria, so why bother making a wannabe engine.

moiz-07
moiz-07

need a new computer fast core 2 duo wont cut it

jim_uk
jim_uk

@RO-nIn187 Sir, you are an idiot. ATI cards are not the same price as Nvidia, they are cheaper, also there has been nothing wrong with ATIs drivers for many years now. If you can't speak from experience then at least double check your sources.

ziadpayne
ziadpayne

In my oppinion,whether they improve the graphics or not,this game is going to be awsom, If the gameplay is like the first one then I'm going to prepare my self for some serious gaming.....

omensrigala
omensrigala

great graphics would be nonsense if there is no improvements in gameplay and story...

olgert56
olgert56

Completely agree with Geckkoo. Mafia was amazing and one of the best games I've ever played. I don't care much about the high details, as long as it looks good enough. If it has all the great voice acting, story, and action as the first one did then this will be my game of the year!

Geckkoo
Geckkoo

@spank_my_bottom dude, you are dead wrong you don't buy a pc just for games, if you like that... well.. stick to the consoles and if you aren't good with asembling computers you can always find a friend who knows and get the exact same PC config as the hp... for half the price. Never bought brand PCs and i'm quite happy by spending less and enjoying more. :D . now... mooving on . Mafia, what can I say. First one was a brilliant game, voice acting, animations, the univerce it emerced me in, the 3D. Well everything. From what i read it will be spectacular... I don't care about the cloth effects and boom boom bam things (they are still welcomed and greately apreciated) but the core of the came will still be the first 3 from before. I want it to blow my mind and it surely will. So all you people out there ( console users, ati and nvidia users) be happy that it's coming out, be prepared to rejoice in playing the sequal to a mind blowing game and cut the petty details... that's so narrow minded.

devrindare
devrindare

bang bang boom boom i really like it don't want to wait for it, but what else a person can do just waiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttt

tinrib666
tinrib666

cant wait for this one like looks nice

ownagephil
ownagephil

Mafia one was the greatest game ive ever played, something tells me this one will not disappoint!

Shadownk
Shadownk

Im glad they actually add something to the PC version

jhgy
jhgy

this is a game that I would actually buy

blakeney
blakeney

Good to see a team focus on Pc gaming still! Mafia 2 will be amazing as mafia 1 was!

hiepghe
hiepghe

great, hope it will come this year, i am tired of waiting

MindlessTeef
MindlessTeef

I would seem that Mafia 2 will not be another "Port", game looks good... can't wait to play it.

tenz01
tenz01

its good to see PC games get some focus.. getting tired of these console ports.

TerrorRizzing
TerrorRizzing

so websites get the preview treatment from the pc version, good news that this multiplat is pc focused :).

RO-nIn187
RO-nIn187

awesome year for gamers... can't remember a year with so many great titles coming out... @togmkn true, it doesn't say nothing about offloading but since they worked close together with nvidia there's a 80% chance that the game will support offloading... plus it uses the new APEX engine, again nvidia.... and even though ati supports physx i'm not sure about APEX since i don't think they really had games to adjust their cards on... sure, nvidia cards are more expensive but i'm using nvidia for years now and barely had any problems... a whole bunch of games were created working together with nvidia and CUDA is a great technology which is already used by a lot of professional software (like adobe master collection)... i won't waste a penny on ati, most of the people i know using it have a lot of driver issues and compatibility problems... and the 3d goggles are a nice technology as well if you don't mind wearing goggles in front of your screen... i would even consider buying them if the price was reasonable, but buying a new monitor and the high priced goggles just isnt worth it... plus there are still too few games supporting it... and @Bobfol i bet you wouldn't call physx stupid if ati had the idea first right? it's not even originally nvidias tech, it's ageia's (which nvidia bought)... i think it's great because it's another step in making games more realistic... if ati can't keep up with the technology it's their fault not nvidias... the only thing ati managed to get out before nvidia were cards supporting directx 10.1 (still no nvidia support but not even necessary seeing the small improvements and game support) and dx11 so they could sell some cards before nvidia brought out their 400 series... plus crossfire is a ripoff of nvidias SLi (which was first brought out by 3dfx on their voodoo cards, which nvidia also bought)... ATI would sell their cards at the same price as nvidia, only they can't offer anything for it....

togmkn
togmkn

If anyone has the same concern as Bobfol: it sounds like Mafia II won't use Nvidia's GPU offloading. Physx is made by Nvidia, true, but it works on both Nvidia and ATI cards. Some games have higher-quality Physx physics (by offloading) that will only run if you have an Nvidia card. But just because the game uses Physx doesn't mean that it will use Nvidia GPU offloading or have Nvidia card-specific features. So far, they've only said that Mafia II uses Physx, so ATI card owners won't have worse physics effects. The 3D needs an Nvidia card, though.

Frisky_Dingo86
Frisky_Dingo86

Played the first Mafia game . . apart from proving to be a really hard game,everything else was instant classic . . the look,the gameplay,the story,the music,the overall feeling of the game . . it was almost as they riped off a piece of the 30's and put in a game.A large piece :) And best part was : You didnt need 3D to enjoy it . . I expect this game with great anticipation and hopes i will run it smoothly on my PC.

Psycold
Psycold

Not buying into the whole 3d gimmick, it will pass, something that will never become a standard cannot afford to stick around for extended periods of time, people already talk about the "3d craze of 2010" because of Avatar. I remember owning 3d glasses YEARS ago and would play Clive Barker's Undying in 3d. They weren't great but I didn't need a new monitor or video card to use it, just the glasses. So why the need for all new hardware? That reason alone is why 3d will never become a standard, most people don't want a bunch of accessories hanging off their faces when they game.

DeadManRollin
DeadManRollin

Never found the idea of wearing a 3D glass while gaming too appealing. But apart from that, the game sounds great. Mafia 1 was a great game and I hope this one will be better.

JeffreyCor
JeffreyCor

No interest in the 3D, but the rest looks great!

Bobfol
Bobfol

PhysX is stupid, its just Nvidia trying to push ATI out of the way so they can charge more for their cards, it's bad for ATI users who won't get the experience and bad for Nvidia users who will end up shelling out 50% more price for a card that shouldn't cost 50% more.

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

Nightshade... then it's a good thing mafia is 8 years old, eh?

des_kong
des_kong

Really looking forward to this great game!

nightshade_nova
nightshade_nova

Meh...ppl... No matter how good the sequel is, if it gets a high score before, it wont get a higher score the second time. if they use the old formula, they'll say "Its good, but nothings new".then give an average of 7.5-8 If they somehow change the formula a bit, they'll say "It doesnt feel the same" will get 7.5-8 Ive seen this on Fear 2 and Bioshock 2. The only way for a sequel to get a high score is to be released like 4-5 years apart, so that they'd forget abit about the earlier version and feel and judge the game like it wasnt a sequel.

JDonner
JDonner

TonnFool23: "thank goodness i have a good pc" No you don't...sigh

TonnFool23
TonnFool23

thank goodness i have a good pc :P

iCEE_Taffer
iCEE_Taffer

it's nice to see that this game supports features like psyhx and 3d vision. On the other hand it's sad cos those things ati cards are´n´t familiar with. ARES, where are you ?

pierrat
pierrat

First Mafia was awesome. My most anticipated game this year.

gamerminds
gamerminds

Great. Looking very nice. So 3d'ers will enjoy!

chalotlt
chalotlt

Great Game................can't wait til it comes out!!!!!!

AhlawyDon
AhlawyDon

I ADORE THIS GAME. CANT WAIT!!!

Shootn
Shootn

didnt play the first mafia. Wish I Did. But i guess i will make up for the first one with playing this one. If this game came out as a videocard bundle with a 5 series ati cards that would be awsome.

lamprosss
lamprosss

souper!!!!!! i like this game.....