Mafia II In-Depth Hands-On Preview – So You Wanna Be A Wise Guy, Huh?
Written Tuesday, July 20, 2010 By James Parkin
To say Mafia II’s inspirations are deeply rooted in Mafioso related films is possibly the biggest understatement of the century. Even the main character, Vito Scaletta, has a slightly psychopathic and careless best friend, much like Ray Liotta did in Goodfellas – oh Joe Pesci, you’re the evilest and littlest mofo on the big screen. That’s the point though, and it’s that familiarity with those iconic pieces which is easily Mafia II’s biggest lure. Billed as a mafia epic that wouldn’t be out of place on the big screen, 2K Czech’s latest sandbox adventure may be an open-world title in essence, but the emphasis is on its storytelling, its authenticity and putting you at the helm of what it’s like to be a wise guy.
We next pick up with Vito a lot further into the game – chapter 9 to be precise – in a mission called “Balls & Beans” where our Mafioso wannabe has risen through the ranks to the status of made man, working directly for the family heads themselves. Vito is called into assist with a potential banana skin by the Falcone family’s lieutenant, Eddie, after it appears that a couple of Falcone’s men have been taken hostage by Luca Gurino, a crime boss of the rival Clemente family. Upon leaving our apartment, the corridors of the high-rise are flooded with character and in the space of only a few flights of stairs, we walk past an elderly woman scrubbing the floor and a crew of police officers attempting to gain entrance into one of the undesirable’s apartments that lives in Vito’s block.
The next mission, “Room Service,” was more of the Mafia II we had sampled at E3, with the ball back firmly in the action-packed shooter court. As it seems most chapters start out, Vito awakes once again from a slumber in his swanky bachelor pad with the phone blaring away on the window sill. After taking the call from Eddie once again, Vito is called across town to Joe’s – his partner-in-crime – apartment to meet crime boss, Carlo Falcone, who wants to take out the head of the Clemente family as revenge for his latest trick in their escalating feud.
Upon arriving, Vito and Joe leave the youngster in the car in the parking structure of the Empire Hotel, and it’s our job to find an alternative route into the heavily fortified Mafia gathering on the 18th floor. Conveniently nestled in the corner of one of the maintenance rooms of the Empire Hotel are a couple of janitor’s uniforms – fresh with a flat cap and a fake moustache that Joe brought along. It was only while waiting for the lift out of the maintenance halls that we get our break to head upstairs behind enemy lines. A familiar face that leaves the lift puzzles Vito momentarily, but that’s soon forgotten when the two are ordered up to the boardroom that they have to infiltrate to clean up after a small “incident.”
Getting to the conference room was fairly easy, although we had to be careful from getting too close to the rival family members in the vicinity who knew of Vito and his antics. Once inside the room, seconds later and Joe had planted the bomb and we’re on our way to the roof to get into our next position to detonate. It was at this point on the roof that our cover was blown and we were left to fight our way through waves of Mafia henchmen to get to the window cleaner’s elevator; a perfect vantage point to bring down Clemente from outside the meeting room.
As it quite often goes in the movies, nothing goes to plan and seconds later the bomb had detonated ahead of schedule and what broke out was an intense and bloody fire fight in Empire Bay’s classy Empire Hotel. It was here when the cinematic prowess of Mafia II came to shine, with Vito and Joe battling through the conference room into the posh bar, with glass and bullets flying everywhere. To rub salt into the wound, a Molotov or two later and the sprinklers were activated, leaving us embroiled in a fairly epic gun-fight in the hotel halls. Without spoiling the story for those that are eagerly anticipating Mafia II, the mission ends moments later, after the pair have made their way to the parking lot, with more bloodshed and twists along the way.
In typical Mafia movie style, Mafia II baffles you with its intricate web of mystery and deceit, and just when you thought you’ve worked out the allegiances, 2K Czech throws a spanner in the works and you’re back to square one. With some great voice-acting, superb set-pieces and an engaging story, Mafia II looks set to deliver on that front. The fairly finicky third-person shooter controls and surprising linearity might ultimately hold it back, but the truth is, if Mafia II can keep up this level of storytelling, authenticity, believability and suspense across the whole game, then you’re not going to want to fuggedaboutit.
Mafia II is out August 24th and August 27th in North America and Europe respectively.