Allow me to begin by saying I've never played, nor even heard of, this series before this game. I'm also not terribly fond of the Mafia. That being said I must say I enjoyed this little gem.
Okay, first off, the setting. It's set in the 40's and 50's, an interesting time for America. Gas was 40-60 cents a gallon, cars got two to a gallon, you could bribe your way out of a triple homicide for less than a night out on the town. It's interesting to say the least, and for some reason I love getting a glimpse back to what life was like back then. Perhaps that's part of the reason I'm so into Fallout games? Bah, I'm getting off topic here. Back to Mafia 2...Wonderful little place, Empire Bay.
You play as Vito Scaletta as he rises through the ranks of the Mafia. I'm not going to spoil anything, since the game's only been out about two weeks or so at time of writing, but suffice it to say Vito is quite the character. I even, at times, felt I was the one in that Fedora.
Gameplay wise it's pretty standard for a third person shooter. Third person over the shoulder for shoosting, and you can cycle from third person, dashboard, bumper and driver's side wheel cameras for driving around. The shooting is pretty intuitive and Vito generally does as he is told to do.
The weapons are period correct and quite realistic. The .38 Special is inaccurate and couldn't shoot it's way out of a paper bag if it tried, the M1 Garand is a headshot magnet, and the .357 Magnum is just badass. Of course you get the Thompson, in two variants. One is the classic gangster's variant with the 50 round drum and the M1A1 military variant with 30 round box mag. After all what kind of Mafia game is complete without a Thompson?
Vehicles are...well let's just say they're realistic. Which sucks, because that means they handle like crap, take 20 seconds to hit 60 and only stop when they run into something. The game has two modes for driving, why they couldn't have made the "Normal" mode more arcadey and left the realistic handling on the "Simulation" mode I'll never know. They certainly do look the part, that much is good. You can upgrade them, though the point eludes me as you'll see later. The game recycles the same few engine sounds so don't get terribly excited here.
Driving in Empire Bay is a bit of a trick, as the AI drivers have a HUGE problem with cutting you off when you're going twice their speed. This problem is confounded with the fact that brakes back then amounted to bottlecaps, and the game realistically models those. So you rear-end people A LOT. The police are interesting, in that you can actually get a fine without being busted. You can also elude said fine if you so desire, which I usually did. Overall I'd say it's average.
The storyline is decent. Certainly good enough to warrant an extra playthrough. I felt it was a bit on the short side, though. I finished it in about 9 hours. Still, pretty good indeed.
The game engine reminds me heavily of GTA IV's Euphoria engine. It acts similarly, it runs similarly on my rig, and it looks very similar. If it isn't Euphoria 2K Czech did a damn good job at cloning it. As such, use IV as a benchmark of how it will run on your rig.
Overall I'd give Mafia 2 a 6.5/10. It's a good game. Not the best game I've ever played but far from the worst. I say it's worth buying.
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