Content of the article: "Mafia II, more like Mehfia [spoliers, light]"
I just finished the main campaign of Mafia II. while googling to see if there was a free roam mode, I stumbled onto the steam scores, and this game receives a lot more positive reviews than I would expect.
Maybe I'm just spoiled by having played GTA V, but this game just feels like a poor man's GTA, or maybe a community made GTA mod. I'd give the game like six out of ten.
First up- unless you get DLC, there is no free roam. You finish the campaign, you see credits, you see the main menu, and continuing the game just loads the final boss fight again.
It's just as well, as the game offers little to do outside of the storyline missions. You can steal cars and crush them for money, you can buy guns/clothes/food/drink. It looks like the guy at the scrapyard can give you missions, but since you're always on a mission already, there's no point, and he won't give you work. You can also rob stores. But there's not much point in doing any of this, because there isn't much to spend money on- clothes, cars, guns, and food, and not much- there are probably 20 outfits in total, a dozen guns, and you can't buy a car, you must steal it and then make it legal by taking it to a shop.
Car customization offers two levels of performance upgrades and some cosmetic stuff- paint and rims. I think DLC adds a third performance upgrade level. Nothing in depth here- either the car is upgraded or it's not, and the performance upgrades are mild. Car handling and performance is lackluster. Even with the fastest cars fully upgraded, there's little feeling of acceleration/speed, and handling is not amazing.
I do have to give the developer kudos for actually making the tires capable of losing traction, and it does feel like you're driving a car as opposed to operating a hovercraft. I've played games where the only thing you could do is drive, and this game does a better job (I'm looking at you, test drive 6)
Guns and ammo are readily found in missions, I visited gun shops 3 times during the entire campaign, and once was just out of curiosity. While the dozen or so guns in the game mostly feel different, you can't aim down the sights to get pinpoint accuracy- though you can get pretty good accuracy by zooming in and standing still.
Gunfighting is cover based. Lock yourself on to a table or wall, wait for the baddies to pop out, and hope you get a few rounds in them. Gunplay is ok in this game, which… considering that's the bulk of what the game has to offer, is a saving grace.
The first third or half of the game flirts with making this game a brawler. You're forced to do several fist fights, and most of them feel like tutorials. Fighting is super simplistic- just dodge and counterpunch to win any fight. In fact, after the game "teaches" you to counterpunch- suddenly your heavy attacks won't land unless you've basically beat the opponent. Oh, you can take a big swing, and you can see that it should have connected, but the opponent acts as if nothing happened. Once you've done the predictable dodge/counterattack loop a few times, you're given on screen prompts to do heavy attacks/combos, and then the fight is over.
And the story… while it was ok… our main characters pretty much fail at every opportunity. Heck, the third job you do lands you in jail. You get a mission that is supposed to be solved without murder? Ha, no chance. A mission that is supposed to be finished without even being detected? Impossible.
And yet, our guys are made part of the family. I guess you could say they failed upwards. Oh, and near the end, suddenly the protagonist is easily upset about his father's history. This is a plot point that may have been glossed over at the start of the game, but it sure feels like it came out of left field when it rears it's head at the end.
The climax of the game happens in a cool setpiece that is never talked about before the mission happens, but is mentioned casually as if it was a known thing all the while. Since it's an action packed mission, you don't really want to stop and take in the scenery.
I must admit, I was emotionally effected by the game, but not strongly so. Joe or whatever his name is was one helluva friend, and it was kinda sad when he died.
After the game was over, I loaded up a chapter and did a little "free" roaming instead of meeting with a mob boss or whatever. However, there isn't much world to see once you get off the beaten path. Also, navigating the world is a slow process, even in the fastest of cars. Outside of collecting some magazines and posters, there isn't much incentive to explore.
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