Note: Backtrack articles only include our ‘fun level’ factor while playing an old game. It is not a review, and is meant to be similar to a person-to-person conversation. These articles may contain spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Years ago I curiously downloaded the Mafia II demo and to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Fast forward a few months to Black Friday 2011, the game was on sale for $20 and it was an immediate buy. In January 2013 I finished ‘The Story’ for Mafia II. Throughout my journey, I did a lot of mafia-esque tasks. The main character, Vito Scaletta, is just a good Italian boy who’s returning from the war. Vito finds him and his family (mother and sister) strapped for cash as they struggle to repay his father’s debt. As a result, Vito meets up with his childhood friend Joe who is involved in some smalltime mafia business. Vito helps Joe with a few jobs, gets some cash, and repays his father’s debt. While that should be the end of the story, Vito is good at what he does, in fact, real good and the mafia bosses aren’t going to let him walk away, they need a guy like him. Naturally Vito is offered a little bit more money for a slightly more risky job, and so on. What ensues from this point on is a great combination of action and story. Playing Mafia II is like being the star of your own mafia movie.
The game provides enough freedom for you to make different choices in some missions. The choice you make can totally change the cutscenes, but I’m unsure if it’ll change the ending. It might be worth it to play through the game a few times. I’m definitely curious to see what would’ve happened if I’d done a few things different.
If you’re in the mafia, you’re expecting action and a lot of it. 2K Czech understands the need for action and heavily provides. Gun combat can be a bit difficult, and the game isn’t very forgiving when it comes to getting shot, which is fine, this is supposed to be a little ‘more’ realistic than other shooters. Mafia II adapts a similar cover system to Gears of War. You can run and slide into cover, or you can creep around the perimeter to get the perfect position you need. My only complaint (which is bogus as a complaint) is the enemy AI are too smart. Not extremely (Crysis) smart, but they’re definitely above average. They’ll move about from cover to cover, but they’ll also pop out at different heights and different distances from cover. If you think you have the perfect headshot lined up, think again. The next time that guy pops out from around cover, he’ll be off your previous mark. Also, the enemies know when you’re aiming right at them, so they won’t pop out. I never was able to predict patterns of how far or high an enemy would pop out from behind cover, but it was easy to predict which guy would pop up next. That doesn’t always help, but it provides you with time to move and get better angles.
At times the story can be a little shallow. I had a difficult time following the characters, who was who. They weren’t introduced in a memorable fashion, and you meet a lot of people. Despite that, I really enjoyed the story. The missions and settings were extremely fun and I could place myself into the time and place. 2K Czech did a really good job of making you get the feeling that someone did you real dirty and they needed to ‘pay’. And if you didn’t feel like your job was 100% justified, you’d excuse some of the justification so you could do cool mafia stuff.
Feeling of Success
From nuthin’ to somethin’ is every gangsta’s motto which you get to play out in Mafia II. You start off poor, one set of clothes, no car, and living in your friend’s apartment. Doing whatever you can to get money, stealing cars and trading them in, robbing stores, or doing jobs, just living that thug life. But as time goes on, you get some money, a car, tailored suit, and eventually your own house, you start to act like a boss. Driving around in those big body old cars listening to Dean Martin, you no longer want to rob stores or chop cars. You just want to keep that good money coming in while living the life. Although, good things don’t last forever…
Spiraling Out Of Control
What goes up, must come down. Eventually that great operation you and your peoples have goes sour, people die, cops run in, and new gangs move into your territory. Things fall apart and you’re struggling to stay alive, just like when you started. But you look at things a little differently after you’ve already made it. Will you continue to help yourself, or will you disappear with what you have to let the next generation battle it out?