This game is classy. It’s slick, beautiful, with the highest possible production values. It might be the best-looking game I’ve seen on the PS3, but that’s just a part of the game’s beauty. The details are amazing, especially in the interiors. The textures are excellent, which is strange for the PS3, since they are usually washed out. A lot of controversy surrounds the game’s use of racism. You know what? Racism really happened in the nineteen-forties. I think it’s sad that these reviewers would champion pap for grown-up kids like Grand Theft Auto over this. I mean, on the radio in Mafia 2 you hear war reports that refer to real historical things like concentration camps and mass graves. In GTA you hear a lot of dumb jokes about I don’t know what.
Mafia 2 has integrity. It has realism. It’s uncompromising, and a breath of fresh air compared to games nowadays that sell out and serve up dumb kid stuff to sell copies by appealing to the lowest forms of immaturity. In a deal with Playboy magazine, Mafia 2 incorporates real collectible playboy pictures in the game. Does this lack class? Well, these pictures didn’t do all that much for me, but I admit that if they’d been collectible Playgirl pictures, I would have gotten a real kick out of them. In fact, I applaud 2K Czech for being this daring. I did a double-take in a very early scene in the game where some panties come off. I wanted to rewind and look again at what I saw next. Did I really see that in a video game? Coming from LotRO, which has been consistently compromised for more mass appeal and thus greater revenues, I really appreciate this type of R-rated daring.
Usually Yolari and I get bored playing with male protagonists. In fact, we usually won’t even play a game if we can’t play as females. (Red Dead Redemption). Not this time. I knew how good the original Mafia was in a pre-GTA-ruled era. Mafia 2 starts off very slow (another bold move, daring to spurn the many modern gamers who have developed a gimme-now attention deficit), but picks up with a major plot twist that pulled Yolari and me in. We’ve only played half of the PS3 version, and plan to wait and save the rest to play after we purchase the PC version at reduced price, preferably with the DLC packaged.
Eurogamer rated Mafia 2 4/10, which is the same rating they gave Velvet Assassin. Really, Eurogamer? That review is sort of a joke. Does Mafia 2 have some problems? Yes. For one thing, its plot writing is a little weak. It starts so slow that it’s kind of a pity, but only because it’s a slice of realism, and we just aren’t used to it as gamers. Still, in any genre there are good ways to tell a story, and the main way to drive a plot forward is to give a character motivation. In Mafia 2, the motivations in the first parts of the game are very weak. Our character needs money early, but we get no impression of a lot of passion or drive to get somewhere, and the intense scripting really doesn’t allow the player to project motivations onto the character either via a sandboxy feel.
In fact, this game isn’t really an RPG, but I’m saying some words about it because it’s so noteworthy. Just like its predecessor, the original Mafia, it deserves more respect than it will probably get. If I could play a female character in it, a tough girl gun-toting moll or something (which would be impossible–I’m not seriously suggesting it), and shop for new dresses to kill people in, instead of new suits, Mafia would be one of my favorite game series ever. We’re still waiting for a big-budget, high-quality, mature action/shooter/killer/driver with a dedicated bad girl. Velvet Assassin and Wet tried but didn’t quite get there (although I’d like to try VA again with my new video card.) Will Rockstar games do a girl someday for GTA, and let me go out on dates with hunky guys and pretty girls alike, and wear slinky fishnets, and get laid like the boys get to do in GTA? I can’t imagine it, but gee, I can dream.