GamesCom 2009: Mafia II Preview - All The Small Things
Written Tuesday, September 01, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
The follow up to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, Mafia 2, is a third person action-crime game that is being developed by the franchise’s original team, Illusion Softworks – now 2K Czech – and throws you into the shoes of a young Vito Scaletta. The story takes place in an open world Empire Bay in the 1940’s and 1950’s, and follows 10 years of Vito’s life. We say open world and whilst that is correct in many respects, don’t expect to see an organic day/night cycle. The reason for this according to 2K Czech is so that they can control the weather and time of day, so that they can heighten the mood and control the atmosphere of their missions – a reason that Remedy gave for Alan Wake recently. 2K Czech specifically referred to the farm house mission from the original pointing out that it was a mission that flourished because of the atmosphere and the mood that Illusion themselves had created.
2K Czech’s main focus in the presentation behind-closed-doors at Cologne was specifically to show the game’s sandbox elements in motion, and how the game’s side missions are integrated into the main story.
Our adventure kicks off with our main man Vito in his buddy’s apartment. After waking up and having his early morning beer – this is not a cut scene... this is all controlled by the player – the phone rings out and Joe calls out for Vito to answer it. Answering the phone initiates our first mission which is to pick up some special papers from our friend Giuseppe. Before Vito takes to the streets though, he’ll have to dress for the part, and so a quick trip to the wardrobe and change of clothes later – again, all in game, no cut scenes – Vito heads for the door.
Joe’s apartment according to 2K is one of more than 100 indoor locations and they’re all hugely detailed, some are interactive and they all feature physical objects and are all destructible. The locations include shops, bars, restaurants, apartments, as well as the big mission locations, like hotels and warehouses.
After walking into the parking lot, Vito takes a short walk up to his garage to select a car to take out. After he’s chosen, he attempts to pull out the lot. On the way out though, a little trouble is brewing between a local and the prostitute that just left Joe’s apartment. Here, you can choose to drive on by, or you can get out and offer some assistance. Of course, being a ladies’ man, Vito gets out to help which as you’d expect ends in a fist fight. The fighting system is pretty simple to control relying on two buttons – heavy attack and light attack – and evade; it makes for an intuitive fighting system. If fist fighting isn’t enough, Vito can make use of surrounding objects and perform context sensitive moves... in this case, the car seems like a good surface to slam your opponent’s face against.
Giuseppe is one of Vito’s known mafia associates who provides the family with weapons and gadgets and when Vito meets with him and takes the papers, he finds the time to stock up on items to help aid his upcoming side mission – namely some Molotov cocktails, a revolver and some lock-picks.
After leaving Giuseppe’s place, Vito runs into a couple of low-lifes that are looking to rinse him for all he’s got and whilst Vito scares them off quite easily by showing his revolver, a local law enforcement officer happens to see it. “What the hell’s going on here? Hey you, you better have a permit for that,” the officer yelps. Now Vito has a dilemma here; what are his options? Well, if he had a gun license, he could show the cop and he’d leave without persecution; he could also try and bribe him, or he could just simply turn and run. Vito turns and runs.
As Vito is sprinting down the alley, you can hear the faint whistle and screams of a police officer before he calls in his description. It’s worth noting, that the police system is an authentic 1940’s and 1950’s police system, so don’t expect helicopters flushing you out or any advanced tracking system. Ducking out of sight means they simply lost track of Vito, but in order to lose his wanted star, he’ll need to change his appearance, which he does at a local apartment store.
After that incident, Vito’s a little stranded and is a good distance away from his intended destination, Millville – one of the 20 distinct neighbourhoods found within the 10 square miles of Empire Bay. Other neighbourhoods include Little Italy and Chinatown for instance and from what we saw in terms of lighting and attention to detail; all I can say is wow. Back to Vito’s dilemma... the young Italian has no option but to steal a car. He can either break the window and make a bit of a noise, or use one of the lock picks he has and not alert any unwanted attention. Trying not to cause a scene, Vito opts for the silent lock pick method to get into his new Berkley Kingfisher. Incidentally, the Kingfisher is one of more than 50 authentically reproduced cars from that period and the handling is said to be “realistic.” Get into some trouble with the police? Then either ditch the car or find a garage where you can get it sprayed, or the plates changed... true GTA style. If you want to, you can even upgrade cars as well to make them faster and improve their handling.
Back to the mission at hand, Vito arrives at the garage and sneaks in under the cover of night. At this point 2K Czech show off the game’s cover, peek and stealth mechanic, as Vito sneaks into the yard undetected. After taking down a few guards silently and dragging their bodies out of sight, Vito makes his way into the garage. Once he’s in he takes down the last few guards and a few Molotovs later, the cars have been destroyed – and most of the interior – and Vito is in a face off against a ton of cops. Vito can’t take much damage, so driving out through the barricade and to the nearest garage is his best bet, if not his only option.
The variety and attention to detail on show from Mafia 2 was frankly impressive, and I have no doubt in my mind that this will be one to watch next year. With an impressive looking world, over 100 licensed tracks from the 40’s and 50’s, a world that feels alive and more customisation than I could shake a stick at; we’ll be keeping our eye on this one.
Mafia 2 is heading to the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in early 2010.