I was also disappointed by the lack of life to Empire Bay. Grand Theft Auto IV was such a revolution because it felt like you were just one person in a persistent world. You didn't have to go on missions; you could go to the movies, go out on a date, get drunk at the bar, go bowling or catch Ricky Gervais doing stand-up. And that's not all, you could stay home and watch TV or play the hottest new video games. You don't get any of that here. You can sell cars and rob local establishments, but that's the extent of activities in Empire Bay. Couple that with the fact that the people don't react in realistic ways and you have a world that isn't believable for a second.
2K Games has fallen into the trap that so many others have made, which is to underestimate how difficult it is to create a fully realized game world. Making an open-world action game is extremely difficult, just ask the developers of True Crime, NARC and Just Cause. Without the biting wit of Rockstar Games, Mafia II just feels like an exercise in the expected. That's not to say that there aren't some good lines here and there, but by and large I found most of the story was there only to get me to the next shootout.
Thankfully the action is strong enough to keep you going until the end. The game runs around ten hours, which is significantly shorter than other sandbox games. Outside of going through it again on a higher difficulty, there's little to no reason to play through the game again. And there's also no multiplayer mode, so what you're buying is a ten hour action game that plays out in the most predictable way possible. Whether or not that is worth the full price is up to you, but I certainly wouldn't buy this over Red Dead Redemption.
Even though it may not sound like it, I had a fun time with Mafia II. In a year that has brought us some of the most exciting period games ever made, I was a little letdown by the lack of ambition. There are some good ideas here, but they are handled in a way that makes it feel a little too safe. There's nothing here that will shock or surprise you, it's just ten hours of predictable fun.
More On:Mafia 2
Companies: 2K Games
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Mafia II is exactly what you think it is, an action-packed sandbox game full of mobsters and racial stereotypes. The gameplay is fun, even if the game isn't especially ambitious. Still, it's better than the other mob-influenced Xbox 360 games on the market!
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