E3 2010: Mafia II Hands On Preview - Tommy Guns & Titties
Written Thursday, June 24, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
The original Mafia on the PC was generally held as one of the greatest open world titles in recent years. The console port? The less said about that mess the better. At this year's E3 we went hands on with one of the Mafia II missions that we'll be ploughing into this coming August. Can the sequel finally make up for that mess of a game we had to put up with last generation? On first impressions, we're optimistic it can.
Mafia II follows the story of young Mafioso wannabe, Vito Scaletta, and tracks his experiences over a ten year period of his life. Taking place in the open world of Empire Bay and set in the 1940s and 1950s, 2K Czech are looking to bring their realistic crime drama to life with a whole bevy of women, licensed music, violence and oodles of Godfather-esque chatter. Capiche?
We pick up with young Vito in his suitably 50s apartment, fresh with authentic 50s music echoing throughout and the traditional rotary dial telephone ringing in the background. The mission we went hands on with at this year’s E3 has actually featured heavily in 2K’s trailers to date and we take control of Vito who is tasked with the unenviable task of heading across town to deal with the “Fat Man” – someone who runs a distillery downtown and refuses to pay his protection money.
After taking the phone call in the apartment from Vito’s contact – and of course checking out the Playboy magazine sat on the kitchen counter (a nudies collectible of which there are 50 to collect) – it was time to head downstairs to grab a car and head across town. Flicking through the cars in the garage, we homed in on a Smith Custom 200 – a stylish 50s car that has a little va-va-voom to it.
Those who’ve seen the gameplay trailers of the “Buzzsaw” mission previously will have picked up on the distinctly winter setting, fresh with snow littering the streets and a cool, chilly air. The mission has since been changed to a brighter and suitably summer setting, meaning that not only do we not have the snowy streets to contend with from a handling perspective, but the whole world has a more vibrant feel to it. The car handling itself is notably quite stiff and if I had to classify it as either arcade-esque like Saints Row or more simulation like GTA, I’d say it was more of a hybrid between the two. It’s not long though before you’re throwing the car around corners at high speeds and before we know it, we’re at the safehouse opposite the distillery with our Mafioso chums, Joe and Henry.
A short cutscene later and Vito’s cover is blown as Fat Man’s backup arrives, locked and loaded, ready to pump the Mafioso crew full of lead. Luckily for Vito and co, the M1 that they brought along comes in handy and allows Vito to use it to destroy the cars full of backup and force Fat Man into the distillery. A quick trip down the stairs and across the street, it was time for us to bust our more traditional weapons out and storm the warehouse.
The game controls as any third person shooter would and using X to jump into cover, we start to work our way through the warehouse’s basement level and up towards Fat Man. Whilst Mafia II adopts a similar lock-to-enemy-combatant system that the likes of GTA IV does, it oddly enough doesn’t allow for blind-fire, which seems to be a must have for third person shooters these days. Despite that, the controls are fairly responsive and taking use of the era’s weapons – like the Thompson 1928 (a “Tommy gun”) – makes the gameplay feel fresh and exciting. Surprisingly, even your comrades help out for the most part.
After a brief cutscene where the Fat Man meets his maker and Henry takes a bullet, it’s Vito’s job to clear the way while Joe carries our injured compadre out of the building – the smoking building that is... no, it’s not having a cheeky Cuban, the place is on fire – d’uh. It’s Vito’s job to clear and lead the way back to the car, where the inevitable car chase with the police ends with a faceoff with the boys in blue on one of Empire City’s bridges. Guess what? Cliff-hanger time! The demo ends there...
Unfortunately our hands-on time with Mafia II was brief, but it gave us a good sample of what to expect when the game ships in August. While the last Mafia title on consoles was a shoddy port, the demo on display at this year’s E3 didn’t show signs of where that original port failed to deliver. Aside from our demo having no invert option – why do game devs ignore the inverted brethren of the gaming press – everything was shaping up quite nicely. As it was with the original though, Mafia II no doubt will place an incredible emphasis on story, and we’re looking forward to seeing some more of that in the coming weeks/months.
Mafia II is out August 24th and August 27th in North America and Europe respectively.