I can start with the cliched monologue, that this game was the most anticipated of its time, Why? Because we all know how brilliant the first part of the game was in its time. It had a thrilling and entertaining storyline, with great personal sub-plot for the main character. And despite being a gta style shooter. It was one of if not the most sophisticated driving simulator of its time, with full support for steering wheels, manual clutch pedal, and the realistic force feedback effects, that aren't really beaten to this day.
So the bar was set very high for any sequel, it's not easy to live up to such a predecessor. Let's get one thing straight, Mafia II is not a rival to the GTA series. They're completely different games. The only game Mafia II has to contend with is its own legacy. And I'm not going to double talk, Mafia II just, didn't live up to my expectations. It tries but falls short, mostly because it is unfinished.
So I sat down in front of Mafia II with great expectations, with my steering wheel at the ready. Only to be laughed in the face by the game, You wanted to use a steering wheel? How cute - Yes the only way to play the game on the PC is either by keyboard, or an XBOX360 controller. Which I taken as a personal attack.
After that shock I feared that this means that the vehicle dynamics will be bad as well. But fortunately that aspect of the game is still good. If you choose simulation mode that is. Which leaves us in a very stupid situation. With the keyboard you can't control the cars properly the wheels always spin out when starting, and you're all over the place. The game just cries for a steering wheel.
And on top of that, there is no freeride mode in the game. If you haven't played Mafia, this is the mode, where you can roam freely in the unlocked parts of the city, outside of the story, without stakes, just to enjoy the quality of the simulation and the sights.
But the biggest problem with the game that it's unfinished. They put a lot of effort into implementing upgrade stations for vehicles, you can even repair a broken down car on the side of the road, but all these things are completely unused and unnecessary. And the question just asks itself, how much of the game was actually cut out to save time or withheld for a DLC?
The story feels like it's missing crucial parts. It feels as if at least half of the missions were cut out due to lack of time. There are enormous leaps in the story, without explanation. And characters greet you like you're old pals, who you only met once in the game as far as it is shown to you. The potential is there, the story could be great, if the gaps were filled in. I had a distinctive feeling that the missions were finished maybe up to chapter 2 when the publisher said OK guys it's time for the crunch, the game will be released next holiday no matter what!
It started great, with a movie like opnening, as you walk to your family's home after arriving back to the city after the war. At that point I would've given 10/10 for the game. But the first few real missions were dull and easy. Later the combat gets more interesting, but by then the story gets incoherent due to the gaps in it. The first half of the game the story is great, but gameplay and missions are boring. In the second part gameplay and missions are good, but the story falls apart.
The ending of the story is one of the worst I've ever seen, not by the outcome, but by the lack of building up to it. The last mission comes out of nowhere and the game ends abruptly.
The graphics looks great, especially the summer evenings. The soundtrack is really good as well. Without these I probably would've given the game much less points.
An interesting fact is that as far as I know this was one of the first AAA games that used physx. At the time without a dedicated physx card enabling the physics options in the game slowed down even the best computers to an unplayable speed.
- Atmosphere (at the beginning)
- Movie like experience (at the beginning)
- Gameplay (towards the end)
- Apex physics wouldn't run properly on anything at the time
- No steering wheel support
- Stupid kamikaze police AI
- 11 hours to finish the story
- A story that starts out good, but completely falls apart later
It's hard to express the game in numbers.It's a terrible disappointment compared to my expectations, and has a lot of untapped potential. But still I enjoyed playing it more than it would seem from my review. But mostly thanks to the graphics and the physics.
overall impression: 7/10