Mafia 2 is 2K Games attempt at a GTA beater, set in the sandbox of mid 1940′s and 1950′s Manhattan, New York.

The main character, Vito, starts off in New York being picked up from the airport by his best buddy, Joe Barbaro, who managed to wangle an early release from the US Army for Vito who was fighting overseas in the war. Joe introduces the scene of Manhattan to Vito and us as the gamer by driving us around some of the snowy streets to Vito’s home in a run down part of town.

From here, Mafia 2 begins to show us other characters that built up a full picture of what life was like for a wannabe mobster and his family. The game progresses with mini missions that help the user get to grips with the game, discovering more and more of the Manhattan area and driving various vehicles.

The story takes an unexpected twist early on (we wont spoil anything) and the scene changes from mid 1940s to the swinging and colourful 1950′s. The changes are instantly obvious as you drive around in different, more modern cars, the music playing from the radio stations is from the 50′s and the buildings have changed too with previously derelict buildings now looking much more lived in or occupied with stores.

The story continues to follow Vito and his rise throughout the Mafia family in the New York area. The deeper you get into the story, the thicker the plot goes with true Godfather-references.

Mafia 2 xbox360 game review PlayEject

Shootout in a bar

The gameplay is a little different to what we were expecting – for all the atmosphere and attention to detail that 2K has put in to Mafia 2, there is an element of ‘on rails’ about the whole game. For instance, there aren’t any mini missions that we’ve come to expect from the likes of GTA and as soon as you finish a mission, the map constantly prompts you to go home where the next mission begins instantly.

Having said that, during the missions (when you’re not being chased or on a timer) you do have the freedom to roam the city a bit more. Beware though as the cops in Mafia 2 are vigilant against poor driving and speeding and won’t hesitate to put a chase in after you. You can bribe the cops if you get caught and don’t fancy another chase from resisting arrest, but money is hard to come by and the bribes aren’t cheap!

The handling of the cars is worth mentioning – each type of car does handle differently and speed is noticeable. You can upgrade your vehicles, personalise the plates and re-spray at many of the garages on the map and start collecting in your own garage.

The combat is also very good – the weapons range from pistols, machine guns, shot guns and molotovs. The cover system works well in frantic combat, allowing you to snap behind cover, peek out and take a shot at enemy mobsters.

All in all, this is a very good game. The lack of total freedom does restrict somewhat and the story is not the longest but there is definately enough action and story to keep fans of the Mafia or Godfather happy.

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