Mafia II Updated Impressions

Action and drama combine in this narrative-driven mob tale from 2K Games.

by

Though numbers count for only so much, the nearly 700-page script that is behind the narrative of 2K Games' upcoming open-world action game Mafia II should be a good indication that the team's focus on telling a compelling story is perhaps the primary goal. More telling is the fact that the team at 2K Czech (one of 2K Games' newest development studios) isn't even creating a multiplayer mode in the game. Instead, the team seems determined to raise the bar for video game storytelling while still making a game that's a lot of fun to play. We had a chance to see the latest slice of Mafia II behind closed doors at 2K's E3 press room.

You play as Vito, an Italy native and former soldier whose only goal in life is to make a living for himself in America. Of course, this being a mob tale, Vito's path through life has resulted in taking a job within organized crime. That said, this isn't a game about Vito's rise to the top of the Mafia; rather, it seems the devs are aiming for a more plausible and human story, one producers liken closer to Goodfellas than The Godfather.

The demo showed during the presentation took place about three to four hours into the game, with Vito taking his car across the snowy streets of Empire City, the fictional town in which Mafia II takes place. Producers said that there are elements of real-life cities found in the design of Empire City and the 20 neighborhoods that make up the city will have their own distinct look and feel. It's worth noting that Mafia II takes place during a 10-year span beginning in the mid-1940s and ending in the mid-1950s. Those eras will be defined not just by their look (with period-style autos to drive and old-school advertisements spread around town) but also by the music playing in the background (including licensed music from that particular time period).

After sliding around on the icy roads of Empire City, Vito made it to his destination and on to the next mission. The mission in question called for Vito and his crew--the wisecracking Joe and the ice-cold Henry (who, unlike Vito, is a "made man")--to take out a small-time hood nicknamed the Fat Man, who has been operating an illegal distillery but refusing to pay his protection money to the local Don. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out what happens next.

As Vito, Joe, and Henry discuss the plan to take out the Fat Man, you get a sense for the tight dialogue and attention to detail that the development team has paid to each of the characters. Vito isn't a reluctant mobster, for example; as a former soldier, he's killed before and, as the Fat Man would soon find out, he has no compunction about killing again. The tightly wired Henry is also more than he seems, and the interaction between the three characters looks set to be a continuing source of entertainment throughout the game.

Once the Fat Man arrives on the scene, the three Mobsters open up on him and his crew with a hail of machine-gun fire while perched in a building across the street. After devastating the crew and exploding the Fat Man's cars (and thus his means for escape), Vito and Friends head into the distillery to chase him down and finish him off.

Chasing down the Fat Man through the distillery, Vito will run into plenty of enemies to fight his way through. Although you don't have direct control over Joe or Henry, the producers said that they've put a lot of work into making sure that your buddies aren't a hindrance; as a result, they'll follow your lead, charging in with guns blazing where appropriate and taking cover when you hide. We saw a mixture of weapons in the game, everything from pistols and machine guns to shotguns and explosives such as Molotov cocktails (which, for perhaps obvious reasons, can be especially destructive when used in a distillery).

After trading some more bullets, the trio eventually catches up with the Fat Man, who's found cornered, trembling, and begging for his life. What transpires is a scene that's as strong in narrative as anything that we've seen in the genre this year: Henry jams his gun into the Fat Man's mouth, the camera shifts to Henry's face, and a single gunshot is heard. The camera then shifts to a shot of a smoking revolver being held by the Fat Man, at which point Henry tumbles to the ground with a bullet of his own. Joe and Vito, not believing what has just happened, unload on the Fat Man with a slew of bullets, resulting in one of the more dramatic death throes we've seen in a while, with some extremely effective camera angles that add to the overall tension of the scene.

At this moment, the gameplay mission shifts from a simple hit to keeping Henry alive. Joe, being the strongest of the group, hauls Henry up on his shoulders as the three begin their escape out of the building. As Vito, your job is to run interference, taking out any enemies who happen to be in your way. Once out of the distillery, the pressure is really on; as you pile your injured friend into the car, the whine of a police siren becomes audible and your goal becomes to try to get the injured Henry to a Mob-friendly doctor in the area.

After another car chase, the trio eventually ends up on a bridge that's been roadblocked by the cops. With the police closing in, Henry bleeding out, and Joe panicking, the responsibility for escape is placed squarely upon Vito's shoulders. How does he pull it off? We don't know; it was precisely at that cliffhanger moment that our guided demo of Mafia II ended.

The game's open-world design promises a rich world to explore. Combine that with characters that are likable (if not exactly lovable), and a story that looks to have plenty of memorable moments, and it appears that Mafia II is on track for success. The original Mafia was a minor cult classic; here's hoping that its successor is an upgrade in every possible way. Stay tuned for much more on the game in the coming months.

Discussion

98 comments
MariusGta
MariusGta

@Wicked-Spirit: Rockstar it's a subsidiary of 2k so if rockstar makes great games,2k makes 'em great 2! and you're right,you cannot compare the 2 games (Mafia and GTA) because they have different plots and ideas of gameplay. I hope that they release it at least in March because i can't wait any longer :)

OB-47
OB-47

The outdoor screens are amazing

dolinovodno2500
dolinovodno2500

good thing there was a promise to hold up on the storytelling cause mafia 1's storyline was what made me loved it

play_thegame
play_thegame

loved the first mafias story, unfortunately i had it on PS2 which had ridiculous load times. brilliant story, i got really attched to the characters, for anyone who hasent played the first game its pretty much goodfellas but at the end when the guy snitches he gets gunned down by the dons men. the graphics were a bit poor and there was occaisonal glitchy enemy A.I but it was a great game.

Wicked-Spirit
Wicked-Spirit

Before I start with my little non-exclusive blabber, I want to say that I'm huge fan of both games-GTA and Mafia. As I played GTAIV for the first time on PS3, I had the feeling that it's very similar to Mafia. By making GTA more realistic, Rockstar killed the idea of being arcade - which was the main thing in the previous games. Now on the other hand Mafia, never had the priority to be funny, or kill Russians, mince them and sell them as hot dogs. Mafia follows deeper story with allot of feelings and basically is recreating the 40 's, which GTA will never do. You have seen how Rockstar shifts their ass with every new game - there was the disco era, then the 90 's, two games representing nowadays and so on. There is no sense in comparing both games, because 2k never wanted to make Mafia comparable to GTA. It was coincidence that both games were released at the same time back in 2001. Even back then you could see the major differences between graphics, story and game play. I bought GTAIV and I got disappointed. By the looks of videos and pictures I hope 2k won't mess up the game. Until the release of Mafia II, I'll be expecting in patience.

L0rD_ShAde
L0rD_ShAde

I don't know why people are comparing GTA to Mafia. They both may be the same on the surface but actually Mafia was completely different from GTA. Mafia had a great story and everything, from weapons to cars and characters, were astounding making it extremely cinematic and more realistic. So before comparing the two games, please play them properly and then compare and you will see my point.

julianboxe
julianboxe

Its easy for this to be better than GTAIV. I loved the first Mafia. Personaly, i didn´t like GTA IV that much. They just added good graphics and a better physics and realism mechanics, but took alway the fun story, the FUN things you could do ( not boring e-cafes with fake online dating), and wtf THEY TOOK AWAY THE MINIGUN.

1hsb
1hsb

Mafia rates as one of the best experiences that I have had on PC. I'm hopeful that Mafia2 will live up to the hype, as I've seen too many here post "omgwtfbbq - I can't wait" type posts before, and then find that the game doesn't live up to the very same hype that they created. That said, it does look like 2K are on the right track, so I am optimistic. And, oh yes -I almost forgot: OMGWTFBBQ!!!!!!!!!!!!!

arkasen
arkasen

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

mehrdad1987
mehrdad1987

yea me too, who isnt going to buy this game?

mikebob2001
mikebob2001

what does the last paragraph say? I was too busy changing my pants

Lamb0fFilth
Lamb0fFilth

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

tomo90
tomo90

Wow looks awesome.

Cowman
Cowman

@risbo_23 : I agree... this is something totally different and deserves its own success, not comparisons to other great games. This series stands alone as it does the mafia-themed games better than anyone

risbo_23
risbo_23

Just why is everyone comparing Mafia to GTA? I never felt or saw any similarities to the GTA series when I was playing Mafia... and I was so impressed by that game that I said to myself: "Man, this game really deserves an Oscar..." There's no doubt in my mind that the sequel will not disappoint.

4dm1n
4dm1n

If this is a sequel to the first Mafia game on PC which i played from start to finish its going to be just awsome. Last game was very authentik i loved getting into in old cars and just goin for a ride downtown. The first game was years ahead of GTA.

lordminhaz
lordminhaz

I wish it lives up to its expectations. Just cant wait any longer!!

Col-Neil
Col-Neil

I did enjoy the first Mafia and i hope ill be able to enjoy the second one

The_People
The_People

'Focusing on the story?' sounds like they might be taking a few pages out of niko bellic's diary. All in all, still worth keeping track of

CptAsbjoern
CptAsbjoern

I completely agree volcomsk83, I loved Mafia 1 and I can't wait for the second, and though I loved GTA IV as well I hope they keep the style and feel of the original.

volcomsk83
volcomsk83

I hope they stay with that mafia feeling, and not try and make it identical to GTA. that said i am really looking forward to it.

Shadow_Xboxer
Shadow_Xboxer

@ AnarchyRising The reason they are compared to GTA is because that was the first landmark, and successful sandbox game there was..........therefore, it is the BENCHMARK for which all other games of its kind are compared too. its natural. so stop moaning!!

8smokes
8smokes

Really reminds me A LOT of goodfellas.

Lotus12345
Lotus12345

Will be hard to make it bether then GTA IV, but when I read this. This will be bether then GTA IV :D! Hope there are more things to do with your money and so

Shadow_Xboxer
Shadow_Xboxer

i have a strange feeling in my balls that this is gonna be more enjoyable than GTA ..... in a different kinda way.

ari90
ari90

If no multiplayer, can we at least have a co-op mode, so we can share the awesomeness of this game with friends online. Im sold already so it doesn't really matter, lol

RussianRAGE
RussianRAGE

I expect this game to be like Oblivion, in terms of AWESOME.

AnarchyRising
AnarchyRising

Why do people always compare sandbox games to GTA .. its freakin annoying ... Mafia and GTA are both great games (though GTA 4 coulda been much better; it was still fun to play)

8smokes
8smokes

The amount of detail in this game is crazy. All of this waiting is definitely worth it!

holy_terr0r
holy_terr0r

The game looks great! looking forward to its release.

Minasodrom
Minasodrom

@Mr_Fujiv1 Really? I think good gameplay and game mechanics are the keys to re-playability. except of course there are different paths which you can follow. but i dont want to hear a story again that i have heard before if the gaming bits in between are crappy!

Mr_Fujiv1
Mr_Fujiv1

yea i aggree i think that a good storyline is the key to re-playability.

Alex_09
Alex_09

@mikees1 And by the way mikees1, if you are so interested in realism, search up "crazy fall" or "insane crash" in GTA 4 on youtube. I once flew over two apartment complex towers after being hit by a car while on a motorbike and survived. I enjoyed GTA the first time I beat it(the second time not so much) and have a fair opinion, but do you see me ragging on GTA for that? Just like you did on SR2 after giving just one example. For me to call your opinion useless is stupid, because everyone's opinion is equally useless in the end, but seriously there are pros and cons to every game, and depending on what you like, those may be complete opposite for two different people. I have read posts on GTA forums here that have complained about the more realistic driving, although I definitely wish that was added into Saints Row 2.

Alex_09
Alex_09

@mikees1 Alright there fanboy, thanks for giving us your useless and biased opinion, please come again.

ninjaxax
ninjaxax

@Mr_Fujiv1: yeah you're right... absolutely right.

Excedra
Excedra

Oh god I can't wait!

Jacky14
Jacky14

I love this game. i wish that they'll send me a full game copy by accident tomorrow, that would be sweeeeeet.

SoutheastSam
SoutheastSam

@Mr_Fujiv1: Graphics are relative to the time. It's the story that leaves that lasting impression and adds re-playability

Mr_Fujiv1
Mr_Fujiv1

@ninjaxax gameplay and story yes but some classic games didnt have good graphics but we all loved them. But i would have to aggree now we are in the next gen times if you dont have good graphics you might as well not have made it. =]

ninjaxax
ninjaxax

graphic+story+gameplay are the key to success for any game!

Ian_Michael
Ian_Michael

Mafia 2 looks empressive...games with great stories are always engaging.

mikees1
mikees1

chechack7, this game is going to be nothing like Godfather 2! In my opinion this game is probably the first serious challenge to GTA4. Saints Row 2 was crap and didnt come close ditto Godfather 2 which was absolutly diabolical. Both games i owned but both games that didnt last long in my collection (i mean come on, taking a corner in Saints Row 2 at god knows how fast and not spinning out? Utter rubbish!) I like my sand box games to have a degree of realism and nothing since GTA4 has had that realism, Mafia 2 though seems to live up to my expectations and the sooner it kills of the pretenders of SR2 and GF2 the better!

hoossy1
hoossy1

This is one of the few games that got the 'cinematic' feel right. The end of the first game made me crap my pants... I hope this story is just as engaging. I can only say that there are a handful of others that do the same. Uncharted, Indigo Prophecy...um...other stuff....

hoossy1
hoossy1

This is one of the few games that got the 'cinematic' feel right. The end of the first game made me crap my pants... I hope this story is just as engaging. I can only say that there are a handful of others that do the same. Uncharted, Indigo Prophecy...um...other stuff....