Mafia II: Joe’s Adventures Review

Mafia II: Joe's Adventures

The ending to Mafia II left me with a lot of questions, and frankly, a lot of frustration. So when I heard that a new DLC would feature Joe Barbaro, I thought, “Maybe 2K Czech will finally do some justice to this story by giving me a proper resolution, instead of a Mafia-3-selling nightmare of a cliffhanger.” It turns out, though, that Joe’s Adventures actually takes place in the middle of the Mafia II storyline, during the years when Vito does his time in the can. Sadly, Joe’s tale is significantly less remarkable and at times just a chore to play, which is a shame given the significant strength of narrative and relative strength of gameplay in the on-disc game. If you’re looking for another crazy ride in the shoes of an Italian-American mobster in Empire Bay, you may have to wait until the sequel.

Joe’s Adventures plays just like Mafia II — same mechanics, crisp graphics, locales, Playboy collectibles, 50’s music, solid voice acting, and slime-ball characters — it’s just a little bit more of each. The primary difference comes in the form of arcade-style missions that focus less on story (they are mostly introduced via still screens and text as opposed to cutscenes) and more on points, which add up to form a grade for your performance on the errand. But aside from a sense of personal accomplishment, it doesn’t seem that the scores actually hold any significance, and thus are distracting rather than motivating. I would have preferred if they had just stuck with the old system.

joe's adventures

Mafia II propelled players forward with an engaging narrative, brought to life by the almost tactile city surrounding each event in the plot. After playing through the entire DLC, I’m not even sure I could tell you what the plot of Joe’s Adventures consisted of, much less why it should matter. The new mission system combined with a story disconnected from any meaningful emotional situations (except for the occasional “Hey, Eddie, how’s Vito doin’?”) epitomizes the feeling of an “errand boy” in the worst ways.

Then there are the missions themselves. When it came to scripted missions related to some semblance of a story, the set pieces and high action were great. A shootout with the cops in a grocery store with corn flakes and detergent flying left and right made for a unique and memorable battle, and chasing a snitch on a frozen river in a couple of slip-sliding Coupe Devilles. But these moments are few and far between.

The vast majority of missions are, to put it mildly, very heavy on the driving and difficult enough to make you lose some hair. One of my criticisms of Mafia II was its ease, and it seems 2K Czech did a 180 with Joe’s Adventures with miserable results. One mission requires you to keep a 1950’s era vehicle above 35 mph for an extended drive through traffic. This took me probably twenty tries to beat (and it’s necessary to conquer this feat before advancing the game), which is just beyond frustrating. As a note, I played Mafia II on Hard and never tried any mission more than three times; I played Joe’s Adventures on Medium. Maybe I’ve just been put in my place, but it’s been a while since I’ve been so livid with a game for its crippling difficulty.

Altogether, Joe’s Adventures is a pretty disappointing package. It tries to do something different than the source material, but in doing so forsakes the elements that made that game great. It also does little to address the concerns of narrow directives within an open-world game that many felt held Mafia II back. It adds a few really cool trials, a few fast cars, and whole lot more Barbaro, but doesn’t add enough bang to be worth the buck.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.