Terminal Gamer’s First Impressions of Mafia II

Gritty, Realistic Mobster Game Boasts A 700 Page Script, Huge Sandbox World

Mafia II, developed by 2K Czech (a new acquisition of 2K and formerly known as Illusion Softworks) is shaping up to be a deep, involved story that is action packed and that takes place in a huge sandbox world.

Logging in with a script that’s over 700 pages long and more than 2 hours of cut scenes, Mafia II is aiming to focus on story above all else. And the story sounds incredible.

Vito is an immigrant from Italy who moved to the United States when he was young. Growing up in poverty, he vows to make a living for himself, and does so by becoming a foot soldier in the mob. Mafia II differs from many other titles in that it isn’t a story about rising through the ranks. Rather, the developers of Mafia II intend to craft a game that is realistic. So Vito won’t ever become Don, instead, he will simply follow orders to make a living.

The first Mafia told the story of Tommy Angelo, a cab driver who unwittingly enters the Mafia when he has to rush an injured member to a mob-friendly doctor. Throughout the game, Tommy rises to become a big fish in the Salieri family, only to regret what he’s done and bring down the Salieri’s. Though the game was action-packed, it didn’t offer a realistic vision of the Mafia life. It more closely resembled the Mafia of movies, in which, guns blazing, Tommy would take on a hundred enemies on his own.

Mafia II's game engine, developed in house, looks amazing

Mafia II's game engine, developed in house, looks amazing

In Mafia II, the number of enemies will be much smaller and each mission will require more tactical consideration. In a reveal to Gamespot at E3 09, 2K Czech showed off a mission in which Vito and two accomplices had to kill “the fat man”. Hiding in a building across the street, they waited for his arrival and then attacked his bodyguards and cars, sending him running into a distillery where they cornered him. Whimpering, he begged for them not to kill him, and then, in a cut scene, a shot is heard and one of Vito’s accomplices, Henry, falls to the ground, shot by the fat man. After finishing off the fat man, Vito had to transport Henry to a mob-friendly doctor while evading the police. The scene sounds amazing and tense, and the approach to the mission and the story definitely seems to shift focus from unreality to reality. Being in the Mafia is not romantic and rising through the ranks is not a goal – survival is a goal. Mafia II focuses on the gritty reality of life in the mob, and it looks like that focus will make for an amazing story.

Mafia II’s story will take place in the 1940s and 1950s in Empire City, a fictional city which includes elements of New York and San Francisco. The game area will encompass ten square miles, and will include both city and countryside. 2K Czech is touting that there are over 20 distinct neighborhoods in Mafia II; but what intrigues me beyond the beautiful graphics and unique neighborhoods are the seemingly changing seasons in game.

Screenshots of the game show that there will be snow on the ground at points, and at other sections of the game it will be summer, with green trees and blue skies overhead. Though I doubt seasons will change in-game, but will more likely change in differing chapters, the variety of playing in different seasons is refreshing and should make for a more dynamic city and countryside environment. As an added bonus, there will be no restrictive barriers to exploration like in GTA – right from the beginning of the game you can go anywhere you want. And this is a big positive for me, as the first Mafia was huge, and I loved driving a car around the countryside, looking at farms and fields and then returning, slowly, into the city.

Empire City will combine elements of both New York and San Francisco to create a vibrant, realistic 1940s and 1950s era city

Empire City will combine elements of both New York and San Francisco to create a vibrant, realistic 1940s and 1950s era city

As in the original Mafia, Mafia II will feature realistic car physics, including realistic acceleration and braking. Cops will once again act realistically, chasing after you for speeding or running a light, though 2K Czech says the interaction between Vito and the cops won’t be the same as it was between Tommy and the police in the original Mafia. What that means is yet to be seen, but I imagine people complained about the cops being too strict regarding speed limits and I bet many gamers didn’t enjoy being pulled over while trying to run away from a murder scene. I personally thought that the realism in Mafia’s world – from the cops to the car physics – was welcome, and I look forward to seeing more of it in Mafia II.

Chapters of the game will take place both during the summer and the winter, making for great variation in the city's appearance

Chapters of the game will take place both during the summer and the winter, making for great variation in the city's appearance

It’s been seven years since Mafia was released on the PC and five since it was released for the Xbox and Playstation 2, and I am already extremely excited to dive back into the world of the mob after a long absence.

Mafia II is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2010, expect more news as it becomes available about this awesome-looking game.

With Mafia II, developers 2K Czech are aiming for a grittier, more realistic gaming experience

With Mafia II, developers 2K Czech are aiming for a grittier, more realistic gaming experience