Mafia II’s Joe’s Adventures DLC is like sex... but backwards. No, I don’t mean it’s like the reverse cowgirl, and no, I don’t mean it’s like the act of fornication between backwards people like those who keep voting for Wagner in this year’s UK version of X-Factor. I mean, that it climaxes first and then everything else just seems like a chore. It does last much longer though, that’s for sure.
Joe’s Adventures is Mafia II’s second piece of premium downloadable content – that’s PDLC to all the cool cats out there – and it looks to fill in the gaps of what was going on around Empire Bay when Mafia II’s main man, Vito Scaletta, [spoiler] gets thrown into the slammer [/spoiler]. You take control of the tubby, mouthy and rather rash, Joe Barbaro, who after seeing his childhood friend get thrown in the can, gets himself into a sticky mess or two that he must hustle his way out of.
The six hour DLC has an interesting make-up, opening with the defining moments directly after Vito’s incarceration and ending with... well, you’ll have to play that to find out. Its structure though is almost like a hybrid of the Mafia II main game and 2K Czech’s first piece of DLC, Jimmy’s Vendetta, which wasn’t great. So that means lots of almost meaningless missions against the clock as you look to score points for your performance and earn grades on the way to becoming Empire Bay’s hired muscle. That means you could be disposing of dead bodies, warning informants of impending danger, beating up greasers to win a car, and so on, and so forth.
The truth is though, that Joe’s Adventures is possibly some of the most frustrating DLC that I’ve played to date, what with its mundane missions delivered by cue card screens before each venture, but not only that, it’s as if 2K Czech artificially lengthened the experience with a sheer lack of mid-mission checkpoints. The content may last you 6 hours, sure, but most of that will be spent replaying missions and redoing bits you’ve done at least a handful of times. Infuriating and downright cheap sums it up perfectly.
That’s not to say that the whole downloadable content is bad. Far from it, because beneath the Jimmy’s Vendetta style exterior, Joe’s Adventures actually has a handful of true Mafia II missions: AKA high on the story telling, big on drama and truly wonderful cinematic experiences, like a car chase across an icy lake and a shootout in a supermarket. Still, those four main missions – outside of the story – are as mundane and as played out as they were in the main game, meaning expect long drives and lots of shootouts. 2K Czech even recycles one of those missions essentially from the main game, which is a little lazy.
Joe's Adventures does have the added incentive of 10 new achievements though, worth a whopping 250 Gamerscore. A good portion of the points are set aside for just completing the story arch's main - and its better missions - so even if you just come for the story, you'll rack up about 150 of those points. The vast majority of the remaining points will have you require you gain a certain amount of points mid mission for your supreme driving skills. These are the trickier of the bunch, but as always, it's just about the best place to do it and with the right equipment - i.e. a fast as hell car tuned to the max!
There’s no doubting that you get a lot of bang for your buck, but the truth is Joe’s Adventures is that poorly designed that had I not been reviewing it, I would have been shelving the game long before the adventure ends. Yes, at its heart there are parts of the Mafia II in there that we came to love when it released in August, but everything else is one big bundle of frustration knitted together by one poor design decision after another. I would much rather have paid 800 Microsoft Points for the 4 Mafia II-esque missions without the filler - a director’s cut if you must - because as it stands, the constant frustration and poor delivery involved throughout, mar what started off as a great experience.