Mafia II transcends much of what makes open-world games so memorable, eschewing fetch quests for sentiment and simplistic storytelling for occasionally disturbing moments.
It’s a mature, exciting must-play for gamers, especially those seeking something more emotionally-advanced than other open-world titles like Grand Theft Auto.
Mafia II is a somber affair, tracing protagonist Vito Scaletta’s journey into becoming a made man. It’s a gripping story that will keep you glued to the sofa for the entirety of the game.
The game traces eight years of Scaletta’s life as he starts out as a small-time criminal who’s forced to join the army, head to Italy, and fight off Mussolini’s forces. When he returns home and becomes a street thug, his dalliances with the mafia eventually turn into great news: they want him to become part of the family.
Considering this game is called Mafia II… the choice is clear. Vito joins the mafia, hanging up his hat as an everyman. But the price is more than he may be willing to pay.
The game acts as cautionary tale to anyone considering a life of crime — but you’ll want to be there for Vito’s ascent and eventual fall from grace.
While the gameplay in Mafia II has moments of intrigue you wouldn’t normally expect, it starts out a bit rote. It will be more than a bit familiar for anyone who’s ever dove in headfirst to a sandbox game.
You start out each in-game day about the same way: you wake up trying to fight off the stupor from the previous day. Then, you take on a job, which usually finds you heading into the city to meet someone at a predetermined location to pull off a heist. Sometimes you’re meant to rob a jewelry store. Other times, you need to meet part of the mafia family at a bar to discuss business. Most of the time, you’ve gotta kill some guys.
The stop-and-pop gunfights are enjoyable, as are the car chases, where you have to evade police and would-be attackers. And it’s pretty fun to see how people react to you when you start gaining notoriety out in the streets, which can change the more you play.
It’s pretty familiar stuff, especially if you’re great at following directions. And it could get old fast, but right when you start getting used to the comfortable routine, things open up. In the beginning, you do things like rob department stores and get gas while completing odd jobs. But later on, things really start getting interesting.
Once the missions evolve beyond simple hit jobs and start involving disguises and more complicated ruses, you really start to see what Mafia II is about — and how in over his head Vito has become.
It’s terrifying and jarring. Despite the jovial nature between Vito and his best friend Joe Barbaro, you know the two could be headed for a terrible end if they don’t change their ways.
Even though Mafia II came out in 2010, it has aged well, especially in terms of narrative design. Everything about Mafia II has been lovingly plucked from the time period it was created about. Unlike the first Mafia game, which takes place in the 1930s, Mafia II spans the ’40s-’50s.
You turn on your car radio and hear familiar classics like “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” “Tequila,” and other hit songs of the era. The visuals, from the flashy cars to the dapper clothing, nail the time period.
If you love crime dramas and mafia action, there’s plenty to love about Mafia II. It’s not anything groundbreaking in terms of changing the genre, but it does exactly what it sets out to do perfectly, with class and panache.
Rife with personal drama, psychological challenges, and downright ruthless sequences, it’s one of the best games to tackle this material. You deserve to take this unique ride if you’ve never experienced it before.