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Mafia 2 preview

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Mafia 2 preview

Post by Yaznee! L4DS on Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:43 am

Playing through the latest build of 2K
Czech’s Mafia II, we were strangely forced to question what it is about
open-world action games that draws us in and at what point does the
genre change from a playground of creativity to something much more
narrative-led. You’d assume the latter would imply an experience that
was inherently restrictive, but Mafia II is proving to us that this
approach has its merits and may in fact be perfectly suited for a
character piece.

We’re forced to bring this up because
delving into the Mafioso world of Empire Bay is an incredibly rich and
cultured experience. This is a world built with an eye for detail and
with a very deliberate nostalgia tinted design. But, for the lack of a
better alternative comparison, when placed up against GTAIV (or even Red
Dead Redemption), Mafia II has taken a different tact when it comes to
giving its player’s choices and an open-world.



Mafia II has character at its heart.
Unnecessarily handsome lead, Vito Scaletta, and his portly friend and
connection to the criminal underworld, Joe Barbaro, have clearly been
crafted with love. So too have the environments – the opening of chapter
two sees Vito returning home from Europe and the war. He wanders around
his old neighbourhood as snow trickles from the sky and ‘Let It Snow’
fills the streets with a melancholic and quintessentially American vibe
and it’s incredible how well the scene is set.





Red Dead Redemption balanced the base
necessities of its open-world action and managed to insert its story
without too much trouble – it helped that its setting already allowed
for a reasonable level of violence in the first place, but Mafia II
doesn’t have that option. Where it succeeds, though, is in making its
players want to adopt the role of Vito. As he walks home for the first
time, still in his military uniform, the world around him feels alive,
arguably more than in many open-world games.



This beginning is surprisingly
reflective of each of the selected moments we’ve been privy to viewing
throughout Mafia II’s time – its storyline spans around three decades as
Vito descends deeper into the criminal world. Where Rockstar has set a
precedent for open-world games with its mission-giving characters and
you free to roam, Mafia II will lead you through its story much more
directly.



In order to tell its tale, it relies
heavily on cut-scenes and in-game dialogue between characters – these
wear their inspirations clearly on their sleeves and, as such, the
pacing as feels much slower and, dare we say it, more adult. These
differences from the established norm are not a bad thing – Mafia II’s
intelligent, methodical and insightful approach is pitch perfect for a
game that has reflections of some of cinema’s greatest mob movies. In
fact, the only negative for this character and narrative-driven approach
is that the animation and lip synching aren’t quite up to scratch, yet.

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Yaznee! L4DS
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