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Mafia II review

Highs

  • The setting feels fresh
  • A lot of variety to the missions
  • The setting is brimming with personality

Rating

Our Score 7
User Score 0

Lows

  • The open world is empty
  • The game tricks you into thinking there is more
  • So much untapped potential
A great linear story, unfortunately set in an open world.

Aaaaaaaand done, thanks for coming

With open world games, you expect a long and lengthy game. RDR can take anywhere from 20 to 100 hours. The same is true for all the GTAs. Mafia II will take you 12 or so hours.  Maybe 15 if you really, really want to spend time pointlessly exploring. Typically, 12 hours is a solid length for a game, and one that you don’t mind shelling out your cash for, but open world games are different. If you take out all the driving from point A to point B, driving that is there just to convey you from place to place and not part of the action, this game would probably be about 7 hours with 2 ½ being cinematics. That might be unfair, since the actual driving is fun, but with no multiplayer, few to no side missions, and not a mini-game in sight, anyone that has played a similar game will wonder where the rest of the game went.

There are scheduled expansions in the form of two DLCs. In general, I am a big fan of DLCs. I know a lot of people feel like the DLCs might be a cash grab from the developers, but if the original game gave me enough content to satisfy me, I have no problem paying a little more to continue playing a game I really enjoyed. With Mafia II, it feels like there was enough room to include the DLCs as part of the original game, and I am disappointed that they did not.

The first DLC is available now as a free PS3 exclusive, and is titled “The Betrayal of Jimmy.” While it is nice that PS3 owners get the exclusive content, 2K was forced to take out certain technical features from the PS3 version, including things like blood pooling under bodies, and better physics for clothing in order to increase the frame rate. In reality, these differences are negligible and you probably won’t ever notice them, so the PS3 probably has the edge between the platforms for the content alone.

A second DLC called “Jimmy’s Vendetta” will also be a PS3 exclusive, although no date has been set for a release.

Conclusion

Mafia II is a fun game, but there are others with similar gameplay that are much better. Fans of the mafia theme shouldn’t be scared off by that, and if you give the game a try, you will probably enjoy the 10-15 hours you put into it. But limited replay value, a lack of surprises, and a linear story in a non-linear world prevent this game from being the classic that it could be.

Mafia II is in no way a bad game. It just isn’t a great game, and the missed opportunities haunt what could have been a classic open world game. Still, fun is fun, and Mafia II is fun. Just try to dismiss all preconceived notions, and enjoy your time in Empire Bay.

Score: 7 out of 10

(This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 on a copy provided by 2K Games)

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