On the surface it seems like an intoxicating blend of post-war mobster drama and open-world sandbox-style action, like some kind of wonderful Grand Theft Auto-alike set in an optimistic birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll-era USA.
But that’s where it tricks you, because the rigid storyline and even more rigid mission structure means you rarely get the chance to truly explore Empire City (the game’s fictional version of New York) and that is a massive shame, because it is a truly stunning city indeed.
Visually, Mafia 2 is top notch, as is the wonderfully crafted story. The controls are perfect and every part of the gameplay is brilliant – fighting, shooting, driving and sneaking are all equally well-realised and implemented – the cut scenes are beautifully done and, amazingly enough, always interesting and entertaining, and the voice acting is excellent. And, to top it all off, the music is superb, charting the period from the early years of WW2 through to the mid-50s and evolves as such throughout the game – even if it does take a few liberties with some of the songs not actually being released until 5 or 6 years after the game is set…
But the repetitive nature of the missions – drive here, sneak there, shoot him – and the lack of side missions providing incentive to explore Empire City is ultimately frustrating and a waste of a potentially brilliant environment.
The PS3 version of Mafia 2 comes with a voucher for a free downloadable extra game – The Betrayal Of Jimmy – which is, in places, actually more enjoyable than the main game and adds the the replay value nicely, as once you have finished the main game, there is little incentive to return.
Overall Mafia 2 is visually stunning with a great story, brilliant acting and hugely enjoyable action, but it constantly feels like it is about to open up the world of Empire City to you and then never actually does. Which ultimately leads to a vague feeling of dissatisfaction…
Reviewed on: PS3
Also Available on: Xbox 360, PC
Lots of fun, but ultimately feels like a brilliant opportunity has been missed…