Hands On with Mafia II at E3 2010


Eight years ago, Gathering of Developers released Mafia on the XBox, PS2 and PC, and it turned out to be one of the best games released in 2002. As it’s been eight years, I was beginning to think that we’d never see a sequel.

Luckily, earlier this year 2K Games announced that Mafia II was under development, and at E3 last week, we got a chance to sit down and get our hands on the upcoming open world title.

2K’s demo room was set up to look like Don Corleone’s living room in the Godfather, and the facsimile was a pretty good one, outside of the 8 or so LCD TVs in front of the seats.

So we know that 2K can set things up to look good, but the big question is this: How did Mafia II play?

The demo had us playing in the shoes of an Italian immigrant named Vito, who is the main character in the sequel. Standing in his apartment, the first thing you notice is the 1950′s music spilling out of the speakers of your radio. It’s a perfect way to get you into the right time period.

The vintage Playboy magazine on the counter is a nice touch as well, and thanks to the partnership announced back in March, you can flip to centerfold and enjoy.

Leaving the apartment, we headed over to the garage and chose a car to get us over to our objective. Driving mechanics were one of the biggest disappointments in the original Mafia, and it is clear that this was a focus in development of the sequel. While it’s a slightly different feel than a game like GTA IV, the cars respond well and are a hell of a lot faster than those in the first game. All the cars are period authentic as well.

Once we reached our destination and began our mission, we were given the opportunity to ambush a rival. I was almost beside myself with glee as I sat in a second story window looking down the barrel of an MG42 heavy machine gun. As soon as the target appears, I began spraying lead into anything that moved, and some things that didn’t. I beat the cars up and killed lots of bodyguards, but my target (referred to affectionately as ‘Fat Bastard’) ran into a nearby brewery.

I pursued him into the brewery with my two buddies, and we shot our way through waves of defenders in our pursuit of our real target. Combat is very polished, and the effects of bullets tearing through the environment is plain to see as beer bottles shatter and chunks of concrete fly.

Finally catching up to Fat Bastard, we let him pule and whine for a few minutes before putting a bullet right in his head. Watching him drop to the pavement was reminiscent of any number of movie scenes, as his impact on the ground causes his fat cheeks to ripple.

At some point in our assault, someone set the brewery on fire, because now we have to find or way out. We make it out and into the car, but now the blaze has alerted the cops, who take up the chase.

The demo ends as we run from the fuzz, but it definitely left a big impression on our team, as we talked about the demo for the rest of the day. The setting feels authentic, the gameplay is polished, and the characters feel well-developed. There’s no question that 2K is making a strong entry into the open world market with Mafia II, and it’s not all that far away.

Mafia II is slated to hit stores August 24 of this year, but 2K has said that the demo we played at E3 will be available to everyone prior to the game’s launch. Keep an eye out for that demo to get a taste of 1950′s gangster America for yourself. Until then, enjoy the E3 trailer below.

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1 Comment on Hands On with Mafia II at E3 2010


On July 16, 2010 at 6:09 am

“Luckily, earlier this year 2K Games announced that Mafia II was under development…”

Lol apparently “earlier this year” means 2002.

(2002/03) Dan Vavra (writer) speaks of a sequel to MAFIA and that he is already working on it. The game was then reportedly cancelled until 2005/06 when apparently it was said to have been picked up again.

(2007) The premiere trailer was released in august and and it was the first time we got some info on the game. Mainly it showed Vito, Joe, Henry and Luca sitting in a restaurant talking and a big montage of clips with various pre rendered scenes.

(2008) A second trailer was released in december (aka The Christmas Confession trailer) and a extended version was released shortly after in january 2009.

(2009) In april we saw the first gameplay footage of Mafia II on GameSpot, it showed alpha gameplay on a mission and for the first time demonstrating characters, cars, driving, shooting and cutscenes.

In may we saw yet another trailer (third) of Vito, Joe and Henry discussing a hit job. This became known as “The Buzzsaw trailer” after actual gameplay of the same mission was released under the title “The Buzzsaw”.

In june we saw the first of four short videos that are being released on the official site. The first one being titled “Art of persuasion” .

In july we got the second gameplay footage (which was the “The Buzzsaw” mission mentioned earlier”. This time the game was apparently in the beta stage. The big difference from previous videos was that now we actually got to see more of the city.

Towards the end of this year you could watch videos on YouTube where someone had filmed the entire GDS 2009 presentation of MAFIA II right off the screen. It showed an entirely different mission from before (it was released later in higher quality but only showed a few bits and pieces here and there).

And of course there has been ALOT going on with MAFIA II in 2010 with new trailers, gameplay, interviews, dev diaries, screenshots, previews and so on.

But yeah I suppose “earlier this year 2K Games announced that Mafia II was under development” is much easier to write up, but it is hardly fair to the people who has put so much effort in making this game the last 8 years.