Illusion Softworks who are now known as 2K Czech crafted the first Mafia game back in 2002 which became a cult classic due to its authentic take on Italian organized crime. Now eight years later they are back to offer up a sequel which is due for release in late August. During the final day of E3 2010 I was able to get some hands on with the game in a behind closed doors session at 2K’s booth. When the first Mafia was gaining its momentum, crime based action adventure games we’re still the new and impressive thing in town. Now however, the whole thing is beginning to get a little played out. Mafia 2 is coming at a time where we have already experienced games such as Godfather 2, Scarface, Saints Row and the Grand Theft Auto series. Though it may be a little off putting to see how similar the game is to other sandbox titles, one thing Mafia 2 does have is an authentic 1950’s essence.
In the demo I played I took the role of Vito, and I was recruited by Henry for a hit on a character known as Fatman. Vito is joined in this mission by Henry, Joe and a bucket full of lead. One impressive detail I noticed about Mafia 2 is that they are allowing you to man an MG42 heavy machine gun, this is something usually found in some form of first/third person shooter yet they managed to have it in a sandbox game without any frame rate issues to speak of. You are able to give the heavy machine gun a test run in the opening of the demo, as you attempt to whack Fatman quick and easy. Missions are never that easy however, so once Fatman got away the aim was to shoot my way through a building full of alcohol until I caught up with him. As I began to infiltrate the building with Henry and Joe spraying everything that moved, parts of the scenery were deteriorating right before my eyes, and I was impressed at how interactive the environment was. With the combination of heavy weapons and destructible environments, creating chaos in Mafia 2 will certainly be on a degree that a few other crime based sandbox titles haven’t reached yet.
As the mission continued and Joe cursed about my shooting skills over and over, we finally caught up with Fatman. I won’t spoil what happens but let’s just say Henry gets hit, then the next part of the mission is spent shooting your way out of a burning building whilst Joe is carrying Henry behind. This part really showed me that the thrilling gameplay seen in Mafia 2 would be the predominant factor in separating itself from similar games we have seen before in the genre. This hands on session clearly proved that Mafia 2 has what it takes to be a hit (literally) when it comes to law breaking action adventures, but the demo showed something even more interesting than blowing up a couple 1950 classic vehicles. The level of interaction with the Mafia 2 world can be compared to that of Heavy Rain. While I was chilling in Vito’s apartment prior to the mission I was able to interact with various objects in his possession; the most important being collectible editions of Playboy magazine posters.
Sometimes it can be the little things that contribute to a games success. Many feel that while Grand Theft Auto IV was a great game, it lacked many of those minor options that were available in previous games. Well 2K Czech aims to make sure those little touches will be what make Mafia 2 stand out from any other crime based sandbox title. It is a delight to see just how intent they were on making sure they captured the true aura of that time. Mafia 2 is out in August, so add this one to your list of games to own.