Mafia II Collector’s Edition Review: The Wisdom Never Changes

Vito Scaletta tells us a story that is historic and begins a renaissance in the depiction of a mobster experience through the rise and fall of an era from the early 40s to the late 50s. Vivification through the mood of the antiquated scene, storyline of an engrossing American Dream, and even the soundtrack of a harrowing tale gives rise to a haunting sense of gameplay experience that comes alive through the pages of a brilliant script by Daniel Vavra in Mafia II. This time, the Mid-20th Century comes alive in an experience that teaches two decades a lesson driving action which is unparalleled to an adrenaline rush, and an engaging presence of the Mafia makes players believe they are in a changing world and with a new family to call their own. Despite all the good, there is plenty of bad through horribly developed hand-to-hand combat that borderlines on mediocre and leaves Mafia II a title which encourages those who want blood on their hands to want more. More than eight years after the original title released, Mafia II engenders a time where organized crime was difficult through the lives of the rags to riches members which took precedence in a cruel world where the strong exploit the weak through tools of trade, ties that bind, persuasion and will, but moreover keep that you earn. Mafia II is conspicuously making its debut and showing us that it has what it takes to be authentic and daring to be ruthless.

Mafia II sees the opening with the protagonist of Vito Scaletta, a young boy eager to arrive at Empire Bay as the son of a poor immigrant and port worker from Italy, and his upbringing stricken with poverty and abjection of circumstance. This egestuous lifestyle led Vito to solely promise one thing to his life: to be something and make something of himself. Being a “Made Man” is high on the priority list despite the unmoneyed attempts at leading a life as a petty criminal. Choosing to serve in the United States Military force instead of being sent to prison, Vito comes back to a post-war that is difficult to readapt to. Luckily for him, Joe Barbaro is there to help as Soldato and to lead him into a life of organized crime that is to be remembered by anyone who plays Mafia II. As time goes on, so does the drama while Empire Bay reflects the change of the time period and all its elements. Empire Bay and all its families will have a new ruthless tag team to deal with, and will finally know what it means to escalate situations with the Mafia.

Mafia II’s mission structure is notably linear but keeps the open world freeroam in tact through exploration and great mission integration. Spots such as the junk yard to steal cars and make quick money, along with several notable bars in the city make Empire Bay a memorable place in the life of the player as the protagonist. The peerless action in the game is incredible with every mission, but unfortunately the mission count is the only thing that was missing. There are only 15 chapters in the entire game, and the first three finish up too quickly. While asking for too much within a game’s mission structure can be burdensome, requiring more from a game with characters of this depth only seems logical and is something 2k Czech should have focused more on.

Mafia II brings a campaign that works incredibly well with not just exploration of the environment, but most of all within a form of cars. Cars are necessities in making the two decades of Mid-20th century come alive as they symbolize the freedom and expression of people that have the power to drive a nice vehicle and live in a settled life that they can call the American Dream. 2K Czech did an excellent job in detailing and modeling cars through the Illusion Engine, which is the sole reason why the game itself took eight years to make. The renders of the environments is half the battle when making car chases and action feel real, the transition is seamless while the nuance of street to street feels powerful and fluid. Vehicles have realistic physics like the previous games and damage according to the amount of carnage on the streets in a Mafia member’s life.  Added realism shows that players will be able to destroy the car through a hole in the fuel tank, overheat the engine, and even cut off break transmission gears. Mafia II, unlike Mafia: The City of Lost Haven, allows players to have the ability to drive every car in the game without having to prematurely steal it. This allows for a wider variety of gameplay and finally extends out into an open world sandbox environment that finally makes sense.

Fists also make sense using a forceful hand to get your income by making sure people pay up. Mafia II comes with a melee system that allows players to throw realistic punches and get some in return, however this is basic. Players throw punches using the face buttons, while blocking and shifting is included and feels decent but yet a little gimmicky. While the action is lively throughout the setting, the only issue with Mafia II stems from an underdeveloped melee system. Punches are thrown and blood is spilled, but essentially that is the apex of the developed system after years in development. 2K Czech wanted to make melee with chairs being thrown and objects being used within the game, but unfortunately none of this came to pass and as a result the melee system reflects this level of development quality.

Being a Mafia member within Mafia II requires a level of persuasion that is not always conveyed through melee, but needs guns as well to convince people or get rid of certain problems in the family business. Mafia II features weapons that stay true to the authenticity of the time. Players will be able to use one-handed weapons from Smith and Wesson revolvers to Mauser C96. Two-handed weapons carry Beretta and Thompson activities for persuasion and tons of other weapons give the ability for Vito to earn his keep. Weapons in the game have the advantage of being very powerful, something which is taken too lightly in other open-sandbox games. While people are dynamic in Empire Bay, their reaction to guns and violence remains static and responsive. Weapons within Mafia II carry a level of turbulence that brings changes and emotions to a new level of expression.

Pacing around Empire Bay involves a propensity for getting into trouble and dealing with the blue-suits/ police. The wanted system works the same way as a lot of other open sandbox games but includes extended factors that add to a realistic stride that is partly believable. If you shoot a cop, an APB gets sent out for you with your description from either a cop or someone that is on dispatch detailing your height and type of clothing. From here on, if police notices you in specific clothing you are asking for a full speed pursuit. Ever cross a stoplight and not get a ticket in a videogame? Think again. While you will not get a ticket for crossing a stoplight, you do get a ticket for reckless driving which includes speeding, and smashing into people and cars. This system allows for a level of consequence besides the terms of shooting someone and trying to get your stars up, but finally taking speeding into account sagaciously. Next time you are driving down the streets of Empire Bay, make sure to keep yourself in check with the road rules.

Expressions are the sole reason that Mafia II seems realistic, through music and cinematic and finally the content matter of the story. Making a special prelude to expression and emotions, Mafia II heavily relies on realism through the gorgeous cinematic details that makes the perfect voice acting come alive. Voice acting in video-games is half the battle of putting a sole into a character, and the voice talent within Mafia II harmonizes itself with the violins of the musical score and short undertones of the baroque setting. Sonny Marinelli and Rick Pasqualone make terrific and overall believable performances as the major characters Henry Tomasino and Vito Scaletta. Sonny Marinelli makes the businesslike attitude of Henry Tomasino seem real and burdensome as someone who wants to make it big in Empire Bay, while Vito Scaletta ushers a narrative and dialogue that is equally aristocratic and forcefully illustrious. The Golden Era of America is expressed in Mafia II through a powerful storyline with cinematic and dialogue that is real and reveals consequences that follow with a life of Mafia fervor.

Mafia II is sonorously a depiction of not just a game meant to entertain, but storyline and gameplay that reveals eight years is not a long wait for something that is relatively great. The cinematic is lively through voice acting and graphic expression while the action is severe to the extravagant Mafia life in Mafia II.  Despite the short amount of missions for characters of such complexity, the gameplay fervor is as vehement as ever in the quick bite that is Mafia II. Finally, the thrill of men in fancy suits with a suave comb and guns feels realistically rich in variety, while riding around in fine vintage classic cars vouches for the authenticity of the era. Sadly, a Mafia member that cannot tackle a person or teach him some manners with his hands is just a little bit underwhelming to be considered completely serious. The dynamic growth and story of Mafia reveals a harsh and cruel world where the word “Mafia” is just the beginning and changes the player into a new person who wants a new and prosperous life of making an “honest” living.

I'm all about one thing: reviews that are easy to understand and make sense of.

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