Demitrius Berkley-Thomas On October 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Mafia II is the sequel to the 2002 game Mafia but follows a new lead character, Vito Scaletta. Vito was born in Italy and moved to America as a child when his father decided he wanted a better life for his family. Growing up he became best friends with Joe Barbaro and together they got into a lot of trouble. One of these times ended up with Vito getting arrested and instead of going to jail decides to sign up for the army during World War 2. After returning home from the war Vito meets back up with Joe and Joe introduces him to the world of the Mafia and begins Vito’s rise in the ranks. The game borrows heavily from other mob stories with situations like driving around in a car with a dead body in the trunk and mobsters turning into federal informants.

The game starts out with Vito in the army during World War 2 and uses this time as a tutorial for the game’s combat. The shooting in Mafia 2 feels good and is a lot more enjoyable than shooting in other 3rd person games like Grand Theft Auto. The weapons in this game feel powerful and it’s satisfying to actually shoot someone even if it doesn’t kill them. Some of the game’s weapons include the iconic Tommy gun, Molotov cocktails, a few World War 2 weapons and other weapons typical of the era. The game has a cover system that Vito, and his enemies, will be using a lot. It works pretty well allowing you to stick to cover, move around corners, and crouch while trying to get the best vantage point. My only issues with the cover is that you can’t blind fire, not really a big issue but there were times where I really wish I could do it, and that sometimes it would look like I was safe in cover but the enemies were still somehow shooting the top of my head or my arms.

The AI in this game is a mixed bag of annoying, aggressive, and dumb. Commonly during a shootout your enemies will sit behind cover and pop out to shoot for a few seconds and then sit behind cover again. This wouldn’t be a problem normally but the periods when they would sit behind cover would feel like an eternity and then when they would pop out to shoot at you if you happened to not kill them then they would wait again really breaking up the pacing. There were a couple times where I would see an enemy on my minimap but couldn’t figure out exactly where they were because they would not move causing me to have to hunt for them and risking my health not being in cover. Other times the AI would be really aggressive and rush where ever I’m taking cover and would result in death if I didn’t notice them in time. A couple times I experienced enemies that would run up to me and then just stare and not shoot at all, which was always creepy when I realized they had been there staring at me for a minute or two without me noticing.
Surprisingly there’s a decent amount of fisticuffs in Mafia II and not all battles are won through gun fights. When fighting the camera zooms in on Vito and his opponent and the simple fighting controls are displayed on the screen. There’s a light attack button, a heavy attack button and a button to hold down to dodge incoming attacks. While the fighting controls are simple they work really well and there’s some strategy to fighting. There are counter attacks, combos and finishing moves that can incorporate the environment. I found it to be so enjoyable I would regularly start fights with random pedestrians just so I could watch Vito beat the living snot everyone.

The player in Mafia 2 has a regenerative health bar that doesn’t refill as much the more the player is hurt. This can be fixed by either visiting home or a restaurant and either eating or drinking. Like other free roaming city games if players break the law he can become wanted by the police. The wanted levels vary depending on what the player has done, such as, if you go over the speed limit then the cops will just want you to pay a fine, if you attack someone then they’ll want to arrest you and you can either bribe them or run and anything more serious they’ll just want to kill you. Once a player has ditched the cops there can be a wanted poster which means if they’ll be looking for your face or a license plate which means they are just looking for your car. These can be pretty easily gotten rid of by changing your clothes and ditching or changing the details of the car at an auto shop. The great thing about Mafia 2 and the police is that they need to witness you committing a crime before they try to arrest and they just don’t automatically know. This means if you rob a gun store and shoot the owner in the face then steal the money and guns and are out of the store before the cops come then no one will ever know it was you.

Empire City is almost a character itself in Mafia 2. Over the decade or so that the story takes place it changes with the time, you’ll notice the citizens clothes and cars change and see more modern things being built. You’ll notice the city seems alive with citizens going about their regular lives shopping, smoking, reading newspapers, eating and more. While there are a ton of buildings there are only a few you can ever go into and those are just mostly stores. Some of the stores you can shop at are gun stores, clothing stores, gas stations, auto shops and restaurants. They’re all self explanatory but the auto shop allows you to customize the car’s rims, paint and license plate while also upgrading the performance. If you’re short on cash you can rob these stores which is amusing and feels good to pull it off without getting caught by the cops. You can also make money by either scrapping cars or exporting luxury vehicles.

Empire City isn’t big by any means but that’s a good thing since you’ll be doing a lot of driving during your missions and you actually get to see and explore all the neighborhoods. Driving takes a little getting used to since the cars handle like cars made in the 40’s and 50’s and you have to watch your speed. There’s a safe driving mode which can be turned on and off with a button that limits the speed of the car to the speed limit so you can drive without worrying about getting pulled over by the police. Like I said before you’ll be doing a lot of driving in the game going from mission point to mission point but it ends up being enjoyable since it feels like you’re traveling through a real city.

Missions in Mafia II are varied and normally enjoyable. The average mission begins with having to drive somewhere from home to meet someone, pick them up and go about whatever the objective is. Missions range from the most typical go and shoot people to beating up dock workers to make them pay their boss outrageous fees to sneaking into government building without being caught and having to stealthily take out guards. The only missions available in the game are the main missions; there are no side missions or side stories at all. There are however collectibles to be found, playboy magazines with naked women on them and then wanted posters around the city. There’s no real need for these and are only really meant for people who like that type of thing.

Overall Mafia II was an enjoyable experience with the positives far outweighing the negatives. The compelling story, despite being really predictable at times will have you wanting to play one or two more missions to figure out what’s going to happen next, see Joe’s next scheme to make money and see how many more F-bombs they can fit in a single minute. I finished the game in about 11 hours and a half and felt as if that was the perfect length and left the game satisfied.


The gameplay is very solid with just a couple drawback and a story that will compel you to play until the very end.


The graphics in this game are nothing to write home about but the character’s faces are pretty detailed and show emotion nicely.


I enjoyed listening to all the music the game offered while cruising down the street to my next mission and the voice acting was very convincing if not stereotypical at times.


Mafia II was a massively enjoyable F-bomb filled journey.

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