This month, Console Monster was invited to head down to the 2K offices to test out the upcoming Mafia 2 demo a week before its release on the Xbox Live Marketplace and PlayStation Network. Although Ant got some hands on time at E3, this was a chance to talk to the team and play the demo without the hustle and bustle of the expo. Although I only got a chance to play the Xbox 360 version of Mafia 2, I also managed to get a sneak peek at people playing the PlayStation 3 version.
It has been sometime since the original Mafia was released and fans have been waiting patiently for the release of the sequel since it was announced in late 2007 but the wait is almost over. The game is set in the late 1940s where you play as war veteran, Vito Scaletta and together with your good friend Joe Barbaro, entering a life of crime as demonstrated right at the beginning of the demo.
It begins with Vito in his house, receiving a phone call telling him to get over to an apartment on the other side of the city. Before leaving the building I took a minute to explore and see what I could do and I was very surprised at the amount of objects I was able to interact with. Having received a beer myself from the guys at 2K, I thought it was only fair my character had a beer too; I rushed over to the fridge in anticipation that there would be one waiting for him and to my surprise there was and so we both began the demo beer in hand.
Exiting the house, which had a slight loading period, I ignored the prompt to get a car from my garage and stole one from the passers-by which meant one thing – cops. Attempting a swift getaway, I made off in what can be described as the worst car chase in the history of… well car chases. Handling these 1940s cars is quite difficult at first and at times it felt like I was playing Ridge Racer, but after a few bends I got the hang of it – slightly. A couple of minutes into the ‘car chase’, I crashed into a building which thankfully turned out to be a weapon store. Running inside to grab myself a shotgun, I found something far better – a Playboy magazine. 2K have secured a deal with Playboy to have fifty magazines in the game with genuine models from the 1940s and 50s – nice!
After a little more driving I arrived at my destination and a cut-scene began describing what needed to be done. Basically, I’m told some fat guy needs to die and the lovely mounted machine gun I have in my hands will do the job nicely - but as we all know, things don’t always go according to plan. After the victim arrives with his armed friends, I begin shooting like there’s no tomorrow, blowing up several cars and killing a handful of enemies. The explosions look awesome and effect the surroundings around them, almost everything is destructible too which really adds to the game experience.
The guy that needs to be killed runs into a nearby whisky distillery, so I made my way downstairs to pursue him. Without giving away anymore of the plot line of the demo, the rest of it takes place inside here and a little bit of driving afterwards. It’s inside the distillery that you get to a chance to try out the shooting and covering systems, which is fantastic. Although we have seen covering systems in games like this for some time, they usually feel quite awkward and you end up attaching next to an object you didn’t want to; I didn’t come across any of these problems in the Mafia 2 demo. Shooting again is fluid and has the auto aim feature seen in some first person shooters, where a quick tap of the aim button locks onto the last position of an enemy. I only got to try out three weapons, the pistol, shotgun and machine gun but they all worked as you would expect.
Overall, the game looks and plays great and there weren’t any major differences between the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions from what I could see. The only time the graphics seemed to degrade was during driving at high speeds, where the game seemed to have a hard time loading the city ahead, but other than this no problems. Being able to interact with so many objects from toilets to Playboy magazines (or both at the same time?) as well as being able to blow up almost everything, you can see 2K has created an exceptional city for you to explore in Mafia 2. I’m looking forward to trying out the full game, which hits the shelves on 27th August.