The problem for me with open world / sandbox games such as Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row is that the messing around, freedom etc becomes more entertaining than the actual story. Then of course the messing around gets boring and the missions go on and on and on, until I’m bored. I’ve still never completed GTA IV, and so the prospect of this game didn’t exactly make me rush to buy it when it first came out. Yet one thing that always did appeal was the period set real world gangster approach, ala The Godfather and Goodfellas, and for style and atmosphere, this game has it in spades.
The story follows Vito Scaletto, a small time hood, fresh out of the army, and soon getting mixed up with the local Mafia. It’s the usual rise to power story you’ll find in most similar games, but the setting here and the attention to detail is something to behold. Also compared to the likes of GTA it isn’t about running around and causing chaos, and the real appeal is the storyline and the missions, which I admit may turn fans of these open world games away. There’s no hookers to pick up, no stunts to perform, and the city of Empire Bay, whilst full of life and personality, also lacks side missions. Which is a shame as sometimes I didn’t want to rush through the game, and found myself roaming around, stealing cars, holding up shops (!) and getting cars crushed at the local scrap yard. Yet it’s refreshing to play a game like this and actually see myself completing it at some point in the near future. There’s a lot to be said for linearity.
I have read some awful reviews of this game, and to be honest can see some of their points. It’s not as refined or as deep as similar games, and has a few technical issues. Yet on a whole its gorgeous to look at, and played as a straight forward action game, this delivers plenty of entertainment, and I’m having a great time with it.
- Xbox 360 Review: Mafia II (blogcritics.org)
- Mafia II Review: Smelling The Roses In A Life Lived Too Fast [Review] (kotaku.com)