Mafia II: Jimmy's Vendetta Review

Fun gameplay, headache-inducing plot.

When you think about Mafia II, you think about the game’s story. The captivating mob tale of Vito Scaletta and his quest to escape his past and survive his present is what made the game such a solid open-world title. Strong voice acting, cinematic cutscenes, intriguing in-game dialogue, a wonderful soundtrack, and the city of Empire Bay all combined for a unique story about organized crime that stood out in a genre that’s mostly focused on letting the player do whatever they wish. The game’s latest DLC, Jimmy’s Vendetta, could not be more different from the original in that regard. Because of this, Jimmy’s Vendetta is a disappointment that isn’t much more than new gameplay bunched into a group of hollow missions.

This DLC puts you into the shoes of Jimmy, a contract killer for hire and the protagonist of the game’s previous DLC, The Betrayal of Jimmy. It is promising at the outset, as Jimmy narrates over a cinematic cutscene of a prison riot how he is about to escape and enact revenge on those who put him in the big house. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all you will see of an in-depth narrative in this story.

Once in Empire Bay, the plot is only advanced by simple concept art images with text briefing you on what Jimmy is going to do next. After having experienced the wonderful story of Mafia II, this kind of narrative feels like a direct slap in the face. There are no voice overs, no cutscenes, not even any sort of screen time for the antagonists aside from when it comes time to whack them. Even the ending cutscene features no voices, and the villain’s character model is completely different from the one that was presented during gameplay. It also doesn’t help at all that the story has absolutely nothing to do with anything regarding the organized crime we’ve come to know exists in Empire Bay.

Jimmy has tasked himself with taking down the Gravina family, headed by Sal Gravina, and an Irish crime organization led by Tam Brodie. The story tells you that the Gravina family is the head of all mob families in Empire Bay, yet in Mafia II the only families were Falcone, Vinci, and Clemente. After the game ended only one survived, but its hierarchy was well intact and in complete control of the city. So either 2K decided to completely ignore the Mafia II narrative with Jimmy’s Vendetta, or decided to not clarify where the heck the Gravina’s came from in the story. Add to it the ridiculous twist at the end, which makes no sense at all with respect to the Mafia II continuity, and you start to think the developers were just throwing darts at an idea board and going with whatever stuck.

One of the few conept art images that provide you with text for the story.

As upsetting as the narrative is, the gameplay in Jimmy’s Vendetta is actually quite nice. Unlike Mafia II and more like other open-world games, Empire Bay opens up to the player and allows you to choose between taking on the next Mafia, Irish mob, or carjacking mission. The missions offer a wide variety of objectives, from car destruction and protection to traditional shootouts and flashy destruction of gas stations. They will definitely keep you occupied and having fun running around Empire Bay once again.

Difficulty can be a bit of an issue if you want to just run through the missions without hassle. Some of them on normal are quite the challenge, causing quite a few deaths and retries. A part of that can attributed to enemies spawning out of thin air in certain gunfights. Players can get flanked and killed easily because of this, which gets pretty aggravating. Aside from that, anyone looking for a challenge should be happy with the ramp in difficulty in Jimmy’s Vendetta.

Money and the economy is of no issue in this episode. So long as players take the time to do the carjacking missions, they will find themselves with much more cash on hand than they probably ever did at one time in Mafia II. There are no worries about having enough money to buy nice suits and upgrade cars.

One of the big additions with Jimmy’s Vendetta, which was also a part of The Betrayal of Jimmy, is a timer and scoring system for the missions. The system also has online leaderboard support for PSN and Xbox LIVE. These all allow for players to try missions over and over again to obtain the highest score in the shortest amount of time for bragging rights among friends and the community. It’s an interesting addition, but nothing overly spectacular.

Jimmy’s Vendetta will give Mafia II fans plenty of content to enjoy, so long as the content they want to enjoy is based solely in gameplay. The missions are varied, money is no issue, online leaderboards add some competitiveness, and the difficulty is increased. Unfortunately, the story behind the content is completely lackluster and has absolutely nothing to do with the original game. It even conflicts with Mafia II‘s continuity and creates nothing but confusion for anyone trying to figure out when and how this can all possibly take place. So for anyone looking to spend a little extra time shooting up mobsters and making things go boom, Jimmy’s Vendetta is a viable purchase. Anyone looking for substance beyond that may want to look elsewhere.

2 out of 5


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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