Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Czech
by: Nicholas Puleo
An open world game is one of those “genres” that really has no clear definition. Grand Theft Auto popularized open world with its do anything go anywhere nature of the game, giving players freedom to toy around in a city while still retaining a strong narrative story. Many games have come along since then which change this formula up - Crackdown, Infamous, and Saint’s Row come to mind. Mafia 2 is the latest in the “open world” style of games - though for some it may not be open enough.
Mafia 2 was created by Illusion Softworks - famous for the Hidden and Dangerous series, and are now known as 2K Czech. The game tells the story of Vito Scaletta and his rise through the ranks in the Mafia of the fictional 1940’s city of Empire Bay. The game starts out with you fighting in World War 2 on the Italian front and then brings you back to your home in NY. Soon you meet up with an old friend who introduces you to the family and it isn’t long before you’re stealing cars, roughing people up, and breaking into jewelry stores to earn money.
One thing is immediately apparent with Mafia 2 - it’s very story centric. The voice acting is superb and the animations and characters to support it fit the bill nicely. Sure there’s lots of stereotyping going on - and if there’s a Italian gangster movie you’ve seen - you can bet you’ll find some inspiration in Mafia 2, but it’s a charm and it’s not completely over done.
One of my biggest complaints with open world games is the ability to lose yourself in the world and forget why you are there. Mafia 2 does a great job of making sure you’re on the right path - with almost no side missions available. It sounds bad, but you aren’t restricted to some small area - you can still toil around the city - speeding and stealing cars to attract police attention - but for the most part the game is guiding you on a very distinct path to tell Vito’s story.
I like this - but I can see where many might not. The world in Mafia 2 is one of the characters of the game, it’s not a feature of the game itself.
There’s a nice balance in difficulty and the game does a great job of ramping it up along the way. The save system could use some work - having to restart an entire mission because you die at the end is a pain.
Mafia 2 is one of those games that many had high hopes for - given the popularity of its predecessor on PC. I think it follows nicely in its footsteps, creating a kind of open world/adventure game hybrid with plenty of gunplay. Think of this game more like an Uncharted and less like a GTA and you’ll be plenty satisfied.