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Mafia II GamesCom 2009 Preview

The main story follows Vito, lead protagonist of Mafia II, in his rise from street punk to mafia affiliate in the fictional city of Empire Bay during the years of the 1940's and 50's. This demo at GamesCom was set during the 1950's when Vito is firmly established as a Mafioso. The scene opens with Vito in an apartment with another gangster, Joe, along with a couple of prostitutes for good company. It's not long before the phone rings and Vito is summoned into action by a fellow named Giuseppe, who asks Vito to pick up some illicit papers. The day starts, naturally, by getting dressed, so here we were shown how Vito can visit the wardrobe and the player pick an attire of their choosing.

Mafia II 

As the presenter walks Vito down the stairwell and out of the apartment, we begin to see and feel the immersive level of detail and atmosphere. These indoor locations are incredibly comprehensive and authentic, with lots going on around you - in this case other people were going about their daily business, causing a racket in the process. We then seamlessly moved outside and headed towards Vito's garage to choose a car, of which there are fifty real-life inspired models. As Vito drives out of the garage we see one of the prostitutes from earlier getting a hard time from an unreasonable lad. This situation could be ignored by the player, but as this is the perfect opportunity to show the hand-to-hand combat, Vito gets out of the car.

Mafia II 

Melee combat involves a simple system of light attack, heavy attack and evade. This street fight looked gritty and brutal, but it showed a promising system which is hopefully more than just button bashing. After successfully winning the fight, and receiving a warm invite from the hooker, we continued on with our journey. Driving around I was flattered by the immersion Empire Bay hits you with. It still very much attains the general feel of the original Mafia, but its looks so much more slick, detailed and varied. The sun began to sink behind the buildings, but it was explained how instead of a opting for a realistic day and night cycle, the developers want to fix the mood and setting in missions to attain optimal atmosphere.

Mafia II 

Once we make it to Giuseppe's place we run into a chap called Steve, who offers Vito a cash reward should we choose to help him by trashing cars belonging to a rival dealer, whilst avoiding killing anybody of course. This is an example of how the optional side missions are neatly entwined into the players exploration, which can provide extra enjoyment should the player want it, which they almost certainly will. We accepted this mission offer and proceeded on to talk to Giuseppe, who gave us the papers, a pistol, Molotov cocktails and a lock pick.

Mafia II 

Upon exiting the building we were confronted by some muggers, who were soon fleeing the scene once we brandished our gun. Unfortunately this move got the attention of a passing police officer. This situation presents the player with three options: show a gun license (if one is available), attempt to bribe the cop or just run off. The presenter of the demo decided to leg it, which immediately saw us sprinting down an alleyway. A mug-shot of Vito appeared in the top right of the screen which indicates how Vito is now wanted by the police. As we run we jump a fence and hide behind some boxes, with the cops typically running past unknowingly. Luckily for us a clothes shop happened to be nearby, which allows Vito to lose his wanted status.

Mafia II 

Pursuit over and we needed another vehicle, as we found ourselves pretty far away from our original set of wheels. Finding a car parked on the street the player is presented with two options: choose to lock pick the door which takes longer but draws less attention, or smash the window for a quicker but noisier approach. Not being in a much of a hurry we chose the former option, and soon we were driving back on our way. On route one of the 100 licensed period music tracks was playing in background, which showed the new radio stations similar to those in Grand Theft Auto.

Mafia II 

Before long we arrived at our destination, but it was soon apparent that the car garage was protected by a couple of guards. The method of approach on missions is up to the player, but a silent one was chosen here to maximise the time before the police would inevitably arrive. A cover system was used to sneak around unnoticed, and an opportune moment arose to take out a guard while he was relieving himself. With just one guard left, we engaged into some more brutal combat, with victory once again Vito's.

Mafia II 

Left alone with the sporty motors, the demonstrator got Vito to throw one of the Molotov cocktails towards one of the cars. This motor caught fire and soon exploded, taking a gas tank and the other cars with it. This caused a cascade of explosions and beautifully showed off the destructible indoor environments, with objects obliterated and blown around the room with the roof also collapsing.

Mafia II 

This commotion soon attracted the attention of the police force, which shortly arrived and gave chase to Vito in his car. The car wanted system is similar to the personal wanted system, but to loose these cops we were going to need a body shop garage to change the number plate and a different colour sprayed onto the car. In these shops you can also buy upgrades to the car, such as a supercharger to boost the power output. With the cops now lost we could drive to a phone booth to deliver the good news. Sadly, that was the demonstration over.

Mafia II

This was obviously a set-up demo to neatly showcase all these new features in one go, but it is still an exciting prospect to think about encountering all these kind of events during the game. There will be a lot of scripted moments in Mafia II, but even in this staged demo things didn't go to plan. Whilst being chased by the police, the car Vito was driving flipped onto its roof whilst turning on a curb, which meant that the art of improvising was needed to find another car. This is after-all an open world, so the player can go around and get into all sorts of trouble should the feeling take them there, but that isn't what a Mafioso would do; this is why the main story is receiving such a high level of attention and polish.

Mafia II

I cannot give the 30-minute demo of Mafia enough justice in this short preview. The interactive inside locations are thoroughly crafted and seamlessly built into the impressive outside world. Dealings with characters and the voice acting looked top draw and very well defined, whilst the graphics are both interactive and attractive. There is a definite gangster movie feeling to the proceedings, and the gameplay looks varied and engaging. All of which means Mafia II is indeed shaping up to be an offer you won't be able to refuse in early 2010 when it is released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

POBmaestro | 28th August, 2009
Rasher's picture
i wish i could of come to this appointment now i have read this
but i had another appointment at the time.
GC needs to be longer
TimmyShire's picture
This game looks very very good, I'm excited for this one, especially now I've read the preview
Vulpine's picture
Yeh, should be a corker! There is a nice little video on their main site introducing a few characters.

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