Mafia II is Not a Game

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The game to me was a huge disappointment. I finished the whole thing in five to six hours. There was very little to do outside of the main story. It truly is just a too long interactive movie.

Every Mafia story needs to be well told and well written.

Mafia 2 does this brilliantly.

Fuck sandbox. I don't need to be able to do crazy little side missions to appreciate the aesthetics of a truly brilliant and fairly original Mafia storyline. If anything, they would ruin it. They would side-track you from the story and the progression. We didn't care about linearity 10 years ago. Why the f*** should we care about it now?

Even a sandbox game such a GTA4 or SR2 restricts you at the start. There are certain places you can't go, weapons you can't obtain. However, in Mafia 2, you have complete access to every part of the map and every store from the start of Chapter 2. Halfway through, you have the ability to bust up a cop, steal his gun and go on a rampage. On Hard difficulty, I ended that chapter with a Thompson, Shotgun and 2 Handguns. Also, by the end of the same chapter, one is able to steal any car in the game world and both store and modify them.

The only downside is how aprubtly the story ended, although there is more than a slim chance DLC will fix that.

I didn't respond to Mafia 2 as well as Russ did (I didn't think the execution of storyline was that well done), but I do think it is certainly a step in the right direction, and more than just a videogame.

Which is probably why it appears not to be doing so well critically. I.e. it's not your generic third person shooter.

Red Dear Redemption

I could make a thoughtful comment on an interesting article, or I could make fun of your typo because I'm shallow and lazy. Let's see....


Great review.

Sounds awesome - will have to check it out.

Susan Arendt:



Its still a game, stupid!

Just a heads up, calling a senior moderator stupid might not be the best idea.

Worse. He's actually Editor in Chief of the entire site. Disagree all you like, but you might want to rethink the "stupid" bit.

Even though in this instance it was purely for emphasis I do reserve the right to call anyone who seems to think that games has to transcend into another art form to be properly apreciated as art stupid no matter the context or the potential consequenses, that being said I really hope he isn't personally offended; he seems like a nice dude and it would sadden me greatly if any perceived insult of mine had him sleepless with tears.

Though I doubt that is very likely.

If the gameplay takes such a backseat to the story, why not just make it a film or book? I'll tell you why: the standards set for games in terms of storytelling are so low, that many of the gaming community is prepared to accept stories that seem to invoke even the smallest bit of intelligence. I doubt a game like Heavy Rain's or Mafia 2's story would fare too well in other media.

I've not played Mafia II yet, but Mafia I is still on my shelf. It was a truly brilliant game with a great story. From what i've heard about Mafia II, it sounds just like that. Sadly, if it was not for my preoccupation with too many other games, i'd have bought this myself.

Honestly, and I know this sounds cliche or lame, I really am looking forward to what Yahtzee will say about this game. I have been for months before this game came out.

Loved Chapter 14 though.

I disagree, simply because Chapter 14 included the fight at the docks. That enraged me so much it took me a day and a half to calm down enough to give it another go.

I hope it's a game. It's the reason I'm going to buy it.

mafia 2 is so a game

I sounds like he really liked the game personally and centered it on one gaming experience that affected him alot.

Not one that was that big a deal just one that hit home for him and decided to write an article about his experience.

"Mafia II has just enough "game" for you to grab a hold of and feel secure about."


So it's another shooter with cutscenes, but someone likes the story and the setting enough to elevate it to a new artform. Because the shooting is just so much more meaningful in this particular game compared to others *sigh*

Incidentally - did you know that if it wasn't for zp, I'd never read a fraction of the drivel that gets posted on the site?

Susan Arendt:



Its still a game, stupid!

Just a heads up, calling a senior moderator stupid might not be the best idea.

Worse. He's actually Editor in Chief of the entire site. Disagree all you like, but you might want to rethink the "stupid" bit.

And even worse yet, this person calling Mr. Pitts stupid uses that abhorrent "grrl" thing in their name. Isn't that already counted as two strikes now based on the rules of the internet?

On topic, even if it had less gameplay or freedom than it does now, it would still be ten times the GAME that Heavy Rain was. (I use that because they are both cinematic and rely more on story than traditional gameplay for the experience)


Mafia 2 != Hamlet.

Russ Pitts:
Writer's Room: Mafia II is Not a Game

Mafia II is not a game. It's interactive theater.

Read Full Article

you're right, it isn't a game, it's just another piece of garbage.

only joking, bro, i haven't played the game yet but it sounds kinda bad from what i've heard, uninteresting/interesting article.

I definitely wanna play this game now :) hearing some pretty good stuff about it
beyond just the, you know, Playboy mags

Mafia 2 it's a 'mafioso' simulator. It's not about story too (although I agree that it is very good). It's about been a mobster. Because of that you're not always in action. Because there is no way the life of a gangster to be 100% shoting. Has the slow moments, small works, days where you just go get a friend drunk at the bar. So the world is huge but you don't fully explored, because nobody fully explore your city. Whether it is the best way to make a game of this type and still make Mi$$ions, that's another discussion. But Mafia 2 is not a game poorly done as they are saying, is simply a matter of choice.

Somehow reminds me of Kane and Lynch 2. No, no, no ... is not laziness of the developers, not lack of time, not lack of money, much less a lack of talent (these guys did Hitman!). The devs simply believe that the best way to engage the player in a "dog world" history is to make the experience unpleasant. Sure, the characters are unpleasant and are in an unpleasant situation. Kane and Lynch are simply sharing their misery with the player. Note that you receive some shots and instead of dying and restart at the last chek point they'll oblige to drag yourself slowly only to die lest than one inch to next cover spot and now you can restart from the last check point. Misery, misery, misery...

I think the big question is. Everyone gets "blablabla game is art, who says the contrary is stupid." But is that really the players are ready to embark on controversial artistic visions?

Very good review, although...

Well, couldn't you have used a spoiler warning? When I do decide to play this game, I will do so with the prior knowledge that my sister will disown me at some point... as a result, that sucker-punch effect you described will not happen with me. At all.

not angry... Just some food for thought.

Interesting discussion Russ. Hope the Escapist doesn't stop publishing stuff like this because of a bit of negative feedback. There are lots of us that like it.

I really hope that I don't come off as rude, but it always gets on my nerves slightly when people say that things "shouldn't be called a game", or "aren't a game". It really gives me the sense that they're subconsciously undermining games as a form of media, below all others and not worthy of high respect.

This was probably not oyur intention Russ.

I don't pay 50-60 bucks for a "cinematic experience"

So far the most ardent defenders of the game have been using "It's NOT GTA!" despite the game set in a vast open world with points of interest, hidden ramps, playboys, wanted posters and easter eggs that begs a player to explore the city.

Do people not see the contradictions that's forced on them?
-We're urged to try and jump those ramps, but die on impact most of the time. (one ramp sends you flying into a group of trees and houses)
-We're told to steal cars for money, but then told its not GTA when we mention lack of other side missions and overall content
-We ask for a free-ride mode, then told "the game is focused on a cinematic experience, and not ment to be anything other than a compelling story...", but then we hear there's DLC that will include free-ride, more missions, and side mission content that will eventually be released which will make the game become what everyone says it isn't.

The major theme of this game is "You can, but you shouldn't"

It's all sounding like a cover to hide the fact there was a screw-up somewhere along the line in the many years of development or hide that DLC was indeed final game content that was removed, only to be resold to make up for the lack of profit on the release version and the DLC is an attempt to recoup more of those losses.

Thanks for the spoiler warning Russ.

As much as i liked the overall experience of that Mafia II product, i gotta say the way the story is told made it feel more like a movie than a game. I didn't felt any connection between me, as player and Vito as character i control. The fact that so many events are just scripted and you are forced to fail, long drawn out scenes where nothing happens, joy rides across the city just to make sure my buddy get's to home and decisions Vito makes make him feel more like NPC i get to tell who to shoot rather than a avatar.

Yes in both visual and sound department the game was great, the story was not bad but the lack of interaction other than pointing a gun ruined the whole enjoyment for me. The game lacked the 'life' part to feel proper. All you, as player, can do there is drive the car form point A to point B and shoot guy C.

I guess if i'd be forced to classify the genre of Mafia II i'd say its adventure game with action elements that lacks item management.

Interesting read, I actually felt this way experiencing the 'game' known as Final Fantasy XIII. It's a shame my experience wasn't as immersive as your Mafia II experience.

I do wonder if dissecting such a new game was wise, though. The process required you to discuss important plot points, and you flagged a major one that even you didn't see coming in the narrative.

I can't help it but be damned disappointed with the game, it's not a bad game imo, but a damn disappointing one after expecting something on par with MAFIA 1 and being on the top of my "WANT" list for the past 3 or so years...

Extremely lacking in certain areas where it couldn't measure up, mostly I think story and characters aren't on par (watched some MAFIA 1 videos on YouTube to remind me, and although the graphics kind of look like shite now there's just a whole lot more charm to it, they were a lot more subtle and not so much "in-your-face").

I also can't help it but notice that there is a lot of damn content missing (DLC or not), you see certain people once or twice in a cut-scene and can't even remember who the hell that was when someone else speaks of them later (didn't have that problem in GTA for example) and even Vitos mother you see like one time and his sister what, twice or was it three times? I couldn't identify or care about any of them, because the ones that might be likeable have only 10-20 sentences to say and you don't get to know them at all and the ones that speak a lot like Vito got across like idiots... for instance his friend Joe already got him to be in the 2nd World War and it is mainly because of him he had to go to prison for 5 years, but the first thing Vito does when he gets out is visit Joe to give him another job. The ending is also literally "screaming" DLC...

They're already adding "Free Roam" as DLC:

Not to talk about the "free world", I didn't expect an open world with a lot of bullshit missions and dates and all that crap but as it stands it just feels empty and lifeless, more empty and lifeless than MAFIA 1 or even "The Saboteur" felt. They put a lot of detail in the story places and I appreciate that, but imo that detail is missing on the outside and most of the times you are out you either drive to or from a cutscene, to or from a safehouse to "sleep" or are handing out gas stamps all across town to guys that all look and talk absolutely the same... (with a total of 60-70% of my playtime being mostly pointless seeming driving around)

Also (imo) the game suffers from slight consolitis, especially in the shootouts... didn't feel as alive as MAFIA 1 where I just rushed in with the Tommy Gun and shot everything up instead of taking cover all the time and having to play hit-a-mole and it still had a good old HP system... and finally the AI can be pretty dumb, especially the cops... drive in front of a car heading right for you and get out of the way in the last moment and they almost always hit it, brake at a point and turn around and they usually speed past you or drive fast and decide to hold to pay the ticket and they sometimes bump into you earning you a higher wanted-rating and they suddenly wanna arrest you etc.

Summing it up, as I said I don't think it was a "bad" game overall but can only agree with the low/mid 70's ratings it largely gets ( on all platforms both critic and user score mid 70s ) and notice that I probably had more fun playing things like Alpha Protocol or The Saboteur... and that's just not what I expected from the long-awaited "MAFIA" sequel (first one being somewhere in my Top10 or so of "Best Games of All Time").

I tend to side with Russ rather than the critics on this one. The game really does feel like a "mature" gamer can enjoy it more as it really isn't an cause-the-most-mayhem-you-can vending machine like the GTA IV. Actually even in GTA IV, I liked the story missions the most. Hell, some of the side missions can be a chore, for instance, remember San Andreas where you HAD to go to a gym? Things like these are just distractions for people with ADD who can't focus on a single story for more than 10-15 minutes.


Loved Chapter 14 though.

I disagree, simply because Chapter 14 included the fight at the docks. That enraged me so much it took me a day and a half to calm down enough to give it another go.

Have you played the first Mafia?

And the fight wasn't that hard. Took me a couple of goes on easy, and then again on hard. The dock workers die so bloody fast though - they only make it out of the door and then they're all dead!

Russ Pitts:
So I returned to Vito's home, went to sleep and started the next chapter of the story, at which point the game took away everything else.

I've been thinking about it, and I can't help but wonder if Frankie's abandonment of Vito would have been more powerful if they'd let you keep all your stuff. They'd of had to do things differently (perhaps a scene with Joe where Vito starts to examine what his way of life is costing him), but I think that saying: "These are all the things you can have, and this is the price you've got to pay," could have worked better.

They needed to show more of Frankie though, and Vito should have tried to say something on the phone. I don't think we even hear her hang up on him, he just puts the phone down - that sort of killed it a bit for me. I can accept it as a sign that Vito's losing his self a little, but I still think it could have been done better.

I think the story hits all the right notes for the most part, it's just that certain events could have had more impact if we'd spent more time with certain characters.


Lots here seem to think very highly of M2, but after looking at other reviews, this game seems pretty average. Nothing to get too worked up about.

Thats because they compared it to GTA, and bashed it for not having as much freedom. which is odd since freedom was never really the point of this game, or the first Mafia game.

I imagine it's like the Yakuza game and how some writers met with real Yakuza members to find out how accurate the game was. One of the members said that the main character running around and causing shit was something likely to get the character whacked, since he was giving the family a bad name.

Mafia tries to steer you away from this with the storyline, and succeeds. rather than driving around and picking off Pedestrians, you go for the missions, and only do a few odd jobs now and then (though only two out of mission objectives exist)

Y'know, I think it says a lot about the average quality of video games that something like Mafia 2 can make a jaded editor gush like a fire hydrant.

Sure, it's pretty good, but hardly worth frosting one's trousers over.

Then again, I haven't finished it yet. Maybe it gets better later on.

I loved the game, but at the end I couldn't help but feel that something was missing...
Compared to Mafia 1, this sequel felt like half a game... And it would appear that it was, due to the amount of pre-order bonuses, console exclusives and forthcoming DLC.

It really annoys me when stuff is made DLC and it feels like it should have been in the game at retail.

A spoiler warning would have been nice

Well, I'm sold. Gonna go buy this, now.

I get the jarring feeling that mister Pitts hasn't heard that many stories in his life time. At least not good ones.

so how much gameplay makes a game... a game? and also, what makes gameplay gameplay? would you consider Point-and-Click games not games becuase the only gameplay is indeed pointing and clicking? I, myself, am not saying these games aren't games, for i love these games.

im just asking, what defines gameplay and how much of it makes a game?

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