It’s always a shame to see great potential go to waste. A great game, made by people do didn’t seem to understand what they were doing.
Ok, I’ll start over. When I was a kid, we had a game called ”Mafia: City of Lost Heaven”.
It centered on Thomas ”Tommy” Angelo, a former cab driver and later mafioso during the 1930’s, and his life as a made man or ”Soldato” in the Salieri crime family.
Then in 2010, we saw the release of ”Mafia II”.
But before I say anything about the game, I need to explain some terms.
”Adult” and ”Mature”.
Adult is legal term. To become an adult, you just don’t die in about 20 years. You are then legally considered an adult. Bottom line, becoming an adult is easy.
Mature, on the other hand, is something not many can accomplish. ”Mature” implies being respectable, calm, collected, responsible and dignified.
An adult game is a game that assumes that the player is of a certain age. It features adult themes. Sex, drugs, gore, violence and so on.
GTA V is a good example of an adult game.
Now, I have to make it clear I’m not in any way implying GTA V is a bad game. Far from it. It’s just not a mature game. It’s not meant to be a mature game.
A mature game is a game that assumes the player is mature enough to appreciate it. It doesn’t need gratuitous violence or swearing or nudity to be good.
”Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven” is the text book definition of a mature game.
It features several small touches to make it slightly more realistic. For example, you can’t carry an arsenal of weapons with you. Small arms, possible, but if you have a shotgun and a Thompson machine gun, you can’t put them both in your coat. You have to drop one of them.
If your clip is half empty, and you reload, you lose that ammunition, since it was in the clip you threw away.
If you get shot, there’s no ”hiding behind a wall until your life replenishes”. You need medical aid. In this case, it takes the form of small medical cabinets. Not big white first aid kits dropped by enemies.
You can’t just drive 120 km/h around town, because the police will fine you for speeding. Same thing with crashes or running red lights. And shooting someone in the street? Congratulations. You now have the entire LHPD on your tail, and there are no pay’n’sprays or cheat codes to spawn tanks.
Also, you might need to stop for gas, after driving for 1 ½ hours.
Speaking of driving, even IF you manage to avoid the cops, you’re driving 1930’s cars. You will get seriously hurt if you crash, and then, when you reach that old warehouse full of people who want to kill you and you have only 7 health points left. it’s your own fault.
Oh, and try driving a soft top convertible sports car like an idiot, and roll it. See what happens.
and this might be a small point, but I like that the worst curse word in the game is “shit”. And it’s rare.
My point to all of this is simple. This isn’t Grand Theft Auto. It’s nothing like Grand Theft Auto. It’s not SUPPOSED to be Grand Theft Auto.
So what did they do with the sequel?
THEY MADE IT A WATERED DOWN GTA CLONE!
Suddenly, you can carry an arsenal of weapons. You go around with five different types of machine guns, two rifles, a shotgun and four different types of handguns.
You get shot, you hide behind a wall, and your health replenishes.
And it set the world record for most profane game, with “Fuck” used over 200 times.
Mafia II isn’t a mature game. It doesn’t treat me, the player, like a mature person. It essentially saying “you’re old enough to play this” rather than “You’re mature enough to appreciate this”. It’s giving me GTA when I don’t want to play GTA.
So is it all bad? No, of course not.
So what does Mafia II have going for it? Better graphics, good acting, dialogue, interesting characters.
But when compared to the first one, which despite its age remains a great game, it just falls flat.
One of the biggest problems is the city. The city is eerily similar to a GTA map. There are diners, and clothing stores (which, I must say, is a nice touch. I’m a sucker for old 30’s fashion), side missions to make extra money….
So why is this a bad thing?
Because these are things that belong in a sandbox game, and Mafia II isn’t a sandbox game.
Mafia II follows the same formula as the first game. The game isn’t made as a GTA-esque “Go to this house and get a mission”. The story is in chapters, where you start the chapter, and you’re given a mission. Then you finish the mission, get back, chapter over. lather, rinse, repeat.
Now, in some chapters, you had an optional side missions, acquiring rare cars, like the Celeste Marque 500, the in game name for the Mercedes-Benz 500 k, one of the most beautiful cars in automotive history.
So what was the point of that, then? Sure, you had a cool sports car, but it’s a two-seater, and you almost always drive with two friends, meaning you can’t use it. So why have it at all?
Because “Mafia: the City of Lost Heaven” had something called “freeride” and “freeride extreme”. Sort of extra game mode. In Freeride, the game gave you access to the entire city. No missions, no waypoints, just you, your car, and an entire city to drive around in. suddenly, you can take a leisurely drive in your beautiful german sports car. In Freeride Extreme, you can fulfill missions to unlock additional, unique cars.
Mafia II gives you a city you would LOVE to drive around in a cool sports car, listening to music on your radio, stop by a a clothing store and buy a three piece suit, just drive around and explore….
Does Mafia II have “Freeride”?
The 2002 game gives you the option to drive around a city with nothing in it for leisure, but the 2010 game that features a detailed, immersive, living city doesn’t?
You see the problem here, right?
If you like the game, fine, but for me, it’s just another game that tries to be something it isn’t.