Mafia II Hands-On Preview

mafia 2

A hands-on demo with Mafia II proves it’s just as much fun to be a bad mobster errand boy as it is to be an actual mobster. To get the big picture out of the way, Mafia II is a story-driven title. It’s set in an open-world ‘50s sandbox called Empire Bay, where street-side mayhem is just a wreckless driving spree away, but the core gameplay experience exists in the directed missions. That’s what enables the city to be the reported "1/3 the size of GTA IV’s Liberty City" in addition to its extensive interior environments. So if you are looking for another GTA or Godfather title, you won’t find it here. This title is all business, and business is booming.

The demo (which will be available on PSN and XBL at the beginning of August) starts with a dramatic cutscene showing main character Vito, his crime buddy Joe, and the mobster they are then working for, in deep conversation about, well, ya know, takin’ care of a guy. So the scene is set, and Vito starts off in his house where he can explore a few rooms, answer the phone, and collect one of the many collectible Playboy pin-up magazines that 2K paid top-dollar to reproduce in-game (in fact, a number of Playboy models were in attendance at the 2K booth). Vito has to make his way over to the meeting spot, and along the way can hijack any and every car he sees. Most vehicles are fairly simple to pry into, but some require a quick window bash and some evasion from law enforcement to acquire. Out on the road, the cars handle like they should: heavy, unwieldy, and at times downright clunky – but in a realistic manner. For example, if Vito makes a wide turn at high speed and slams into a brick wall, he sustains a fair amount of damage to his health, and often has to get out repairing the vehicle with a quick button push.

Once done tearing up the mean streets, Vito joins Joe and their "contractor" in a building across from the place of their target. In a very organically and cinematically designed scene, they wait for the bait to arrive and unleash lead fury all over them. This is where the shooting mechanics begin to kick in, showing over the shoulder views from either the left or right and centered well based on positioning. A chase into the next building ensues, and each floor brings a type of gun battle, each silhouetted by the fairly fluid cover system activated and deactivated by a simple push of the A button. First comes the pistol, which shoots about like you’d expect: semi-accurate at range with medium effectiveness. Second, Vito picks up a shotgun and powerfully blasts back foes literally yards with single shots. But eventually the range gets to be too great, and a Tommy Gun becomes necessary. Vito shoots the Tommy just like any gangster, sloppy and from the hip, but it really demolishes anything in its path given the right amount of recoil control.

Once at the top of the facility, a cutscene cues where the client and the target are both shot, and a subsequent escape from the crumbling building follows. After that, a swift cop chase through the streets sees the perpetuation of the ramped up intensity up until a dramatic stand-off moment on a bridge where the demo eventually ends. 2K was unable to comment on the time as to the approximate length of the mission oriented game, but if the time of play is anywhere near as substantial as the gameplay, then Mafia II will absolutely be worth its weight in calzones come August 24th.


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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.

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