Popular culture has always had a soft spot for organized crime. On screen interpretations like The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos only made our infatuation with the mob that much deeper. So it is no surprise that three piece suits and tommy guns have made their way into the world of video games. The problem is that previous attempts of translating that life into an enjoyable video game have for the most part failed. The bar has definitely been raised with Mafia 2(2K Games / 2k Czech).

Based in the fictional Empire Bay in the 40’s and 50’s, you assume the role of a poor Italian American Vito who wants to escape a life of poverty. His only way out of a life of hardship is to descend into the underworld of organized crime. Accompanied by your childhood friend Joe, you start off with low level jobs like petty theft and shaking down small businesses on your journey to being a made man.

The world of Mafia 2 is great. The graphics are very sharp and the overall presentation really puts you in the world of mob. Vintage cars blaring classic oldies, the lingo used is spot on and the overall setting in the game seems to be on par to any bustling city during that time period. Additionally the voice acting is impressive and adds a real authenticity to Vito’s world.

Where Mafia 2 really shines is its story. The storyline is very robust with twists, turns, guns, booze, backstabbing and more importantly very well done plot and character development. The cut scenes add even more depth as they give this game a great Martin Scorsese feel. It doesn’t hurt that the protagonist Vito is a great character who is at times cruel and conflicted at the same time.

At its core the game play can provide some great gangster moments, Mafia 2 does have some gaps to fill to really enjoy the open world of Empire City. The action is stellar though. The missions range from the standard car chases to the super intense assassination plots. There are plenty of gun fights to be had all anchored by a traditional duck and cover system. What does take away from the overall experience is the title’s very linear layout.

Empire Bay feels like a big place but outside of your storyline there isn’t much to do there. You don’t have any real productive interaction with any of the civilians and the lack of side missions makes the world of Mafia 2 seems very limited. Also there is no multi-player which takes a bit off the excitement of being mobbed up.

Mafia 2 is a well told mobster tale. It might not deeply immerse you into its world like other sandbox titles, but the action and story is well worth the purchase. While it isn’t the video game equation of Don Corleone, this is an offer that shouldn’t be refused.

Developer / Publisher :  2K Games / 2K Czech

Platform: XBOX 360

Players: 1

Rating: 8 out 10