Hands-On With 2K's Impressive Open-World Gangster Game - Mafia II - Xbox 360 - www.GameInformer.com
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Mafia II

Hands-On With 2K's Impressive Open-World Gangster Game

Several open-world action games sprang up in the wake of Rockstar's innovative Grand Theft Auto III, but the original Mafia stood out from the pack with its unique sense of place and dedication to cinematic conventions. For the sequel, developer 2K Czech is taking its Hollywood approach to the next level, with quick cuts, stylish camera angles, and iconic mood music to enrich the experience. To get a further sense of how the project is coming together, I grabbed a controller and jumped into Mafia II's first hands-on demo.

For those of you unfamiliar, Mafia II chronicles the life of Vito Scaletta, a World War II vet who returns from the war to find his mother and sister struggling to make ends meet. While Vito was diving in fox holes across Europe, his deadbeat dad racked up a sizable debt to a bookie and unexpectedly kicked the bucket before he had the chance to balance his checkbook. Not the sort to excuse a death in the family, the cutthroat loan shark demands that the family ponies up the cash. To bail out the fam, Vito and his buddy Joe Barbaro turn to petty crime. Their gift for grifting does not go unnoticed, and suddenly the duo is climbing the ranks of an Empire Bay crime family.

The first hands-on demo of Mafia II drops us into a mission called “Wild Ones,” which takes place well into Vito's criminal career. The session begins with Vito standing in his skivvies, reading a note left by Joe on the kitchen table. Joe's apartment is your typical rundown urban tenement, with the only distinguishing feature being the collection titillating pin-up posters on the wall and a red bra on the unmade bed. Joe is nothing if not sure of his sexuality. The note explains they have another job that afternoon, and instructs Vito to meet Joe at a nearby parking lot. Before heading out the door, I open the wardrobe and select Vito's attire for the day – a leather jacket. Leaving the building, I make may way around the corner to the garage.

From the fedora-donning wise guys loitering on the streets to the advertisements for booze, smokes, and baseball plastered on every wall, Mafia II delivers an unmistakable sense of place and time. Though Empire Bay is a fictitious amalgam of east coast cities, the buildings, gas stations, signage, and citizens are pulled straight out of 1950s Americana. Opening the garage further confirms the Fonzie-friendly setting, as each of the three rides I have to chose from would be right at home on Happy Days. I hop in a sleek convertible and hit the road with early-era rock and roll blasting from the speakers.

Like other open world games, the route to my destination is outlined on a GPS map in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. The car feels a lot stiffer than your typical Grand Theft Auto vehicle, so when navigating tight turns or passing between two cars, I find it best to drive much slower than I normally would. As I pull up, a quick jump cut brings me straight into a cutscene. Joe is stationed next to a cargo truck full of cigarettes in a parking lot. He says Eddie (the duo's higher up) came across the cartons and wants them moved. After we make a few sales to mopes on the street for two bucks a carton, a caravan of hot rods pulls up next to the truck. A greaser dressed in the standard jeans-and-leather-jacket attire confidently steps up to Joe and tells him that this is their turf. If we want to operate in the area, we'll need to cough up some cash and cigarettes. Not one to be strong-armed out of his goods, Joe politely tells him to scram, but the slick-haired goon doesn't step down. He signals his henchmen circling the truck in a car, and out flies a Molotov cocktail that sets our cartons of smokes aflame. Joe is not pleased; without saying another word, he draws his gun and shoots the unsuspecting tough guy in the forehead, hardly blinking an eye. We jump in a car to chase the remaining greasers, but they're long gone by the time we hit the road. 

With the cigarettes burned to cinders and the cargo truck in shambles, we have to report the bad news to Eddie. Finding the nearest pay phone, we ring him up and prepare for the worst. After an expletive-laced rant chronicling the myriad ways we failed him, Eddie instructs us to meet up with his shakedown artists at a greaser hangout to set things straight. To do good by the boss man, we have to come up with the $2,000 reimbursement, and be discreet in getting revenge.

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  • Expert

    I also had a chance to check this out and the world is very impressive to say the least.

  • I would like to officially register my desire to play this video game tape.

  • sweet beans!

  • I didn't play the first one but consider me "interested" in seeing more of this. I was semi-disappointed when I scrolled over to see a July release date (which probably means September) but at least I've got a pretty good idea what I'm in for later this year.

  • Could be fun but I never really cared for the  first one.

  • it looks like 1950's grand theft auto

  • It looks and sounds okay. I'd give it a shot, I'm not too excited about it though.

  • Pretty good

  • Well this is another game i consider getting!!:) Even tho its not out for awhile I got BattleField 2 ta occupi me lol... But this game looks sick!

  • Well this is another game i consider getting!!:) Even tho its not out for awhile I got BattleField 2 ta occupi me lol... But this game looks sick!

  • Cool. Its like GTA in the 50's. I like

  • Looks good.  I might get it.

  • Sounds like a lot of fun.  Wish I could get my hands on a demo as well to try it out.

  • If you played the first game, then you know what this is all about. This one is gonna be fun! I hope they have one of those bonus features after you beat the game just like the first one. You finally own your own house and have new types of cars to jack and put into your collection. I thought that scenario was pretty original and fun.

  • Can't wait for this one... It's going to be rad.

  • I hope it aint like godfather2 because that game kinda stunk

  • Vury much excitement for Mafia II. Presentation looks and sounds like it's going to be spot on, and the in game footage we've seen looks pretty smooth as well even as is. I anticipate this falling somewhere in the silver or higher category for sure... or at least I hope.

  • This game look crazy, i'll definitely have to check this out.

  • it looks pretty good but it almost looks like just another version of gta but in an older time period

  • HEY!  IM walkin' HERE!  

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