(Review originally written at 8 October 2010)

Playing this game was a bit of a weird experience. I honestly enjoyed playing it but in the end the game still left a bad aftertaste.

No matter what the production companies claim; this game is certainly a GTA-clone, set in the '40's and '50's. It has the same game-play, similar sort of missions and a big fictional town you can walk and ride through, while killing people, buy clothes, or visit other shops and places. Even the map, menu options, statistics and radar seem to come straight out of the recent GTA games. But I don't mind this at all, since all of the GTA games are fantastic games to play, that provide hours of entertainment and you can play over and over again, even long after you've finished its missions.

And this game almost literally copied everything out of the GTA games, except for it's best parts. First the way you being capable to pick the missions for yourself and also deciding to play which missions when. in "Mafia II" you are simply not capable of doing that. It's story plays like a movie, so once you have finished one mission, you are starting the next one, until you finish the game. There are not even different missions to choose from. So obviously this brings me to this game it's most disappointing aspect; it's not really being a sandbox game, in which you can walk- or drive around freely, without having to complete a mission. You constantly have to complete a certain task so you have no time to fool around or to discover anything. Once you start fooling around, chances are you are going to get killed because you crash your car or get shot by the cops. And once this happens, you have to start a mission all over again. This all would had still been OK if the game had the option to be able to play the game in sandbox mode as well, so without any missions. This is not the case with this game, not even after you have completed it. So the game really doesn't has much re-playability value to it. When you've finished the game there is not much else you can do. A missed opportunity, that could had given its players days and even moths of fun playing it. And it's not like they couldn't had given giving this game that option. The town's size is there, the AI is there, all of the weapons, cars and other options to play around with where there, so what was holding them back? And the first Mafia game did had this option available by the way.

Instead now you are capable of completing this game within a day. It took me 16 hours but that was with lots of fooling around. To be honest I didn't even realized I had finished the game, till the end credits suddenly started to roll. Sure, the final mission is a bit harder than the other ones but there was nothing else indicating that this was going to be the final mission.

Guess this is also due to the way the story of the game is getting told. It follows a bit of a confusing story in terms of that it's not really wrapping up things. At times you just don't know anymore who you are working for and who is supposed to be the enemy or your friends. Characters like your sister and a potential love-interested disappear out of the game completely after a while, even though they still could had done far more and better things with them. Also the main character that you are playing is very gullible. For instance One guy tells him to kill someone you don't even know but the main character always obeys without thinking or protesting.

Still it's a game that really plays like a movie, which is mostly due to its story. It's the foremost reason why I still enjoyed playing it. You really become the character out of a gangster movie, so this means you don't always need to do any shooting or driving but also sell cigarettes from the back of a truck and even go to prison. I love this game for that approach. Also when you follow a person or car and you loose them, you expect that it means that you have failed your mission but it's actually a part of the game, so you don't always succeed at everything, which works realistic and refreshing.

It's also refreshing that for a change the voice-cast didn't consists out of big well known Hollywood names. It often works distracting within games.

The game-play is nice and the game learns you fast what you are all capable off and how all of the buttons work. So you don't need to be an hardened gamer to play it. I also loved how the action worked. You can't just barge in and blast away everyone but you always have to take cover, or you are going to get killed for sure.

The graphics are great looking. It's better looking than any of the GTA games but yet it's running way smoother and with often more details in it as well. The AI is quite good and enemies rarely do the same things, when you play certain missions all over again.

This game is notorious for having many bugs in it. I encountered one big one, which forced me to quit playing and to start a chapter all over again, since the game doesn't work with save files but with chapters, that are sort of levels and an option to continue playing the game were you left of, which is obviously not handy once you encounter a bug that makes you incapable of completing a certain mission.

In the end still a disappointment but the hours that you are playing it, you are probably gonna love it.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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