Mafia II is Not a Game


New member
Mar 18, 2009
I didn't really care all that much about Mafia II. I rented it having known nothing about the game other than guessing by title and had never even heard of the first Mafia game. I kept waiting for the game to open up more and be more free but the story really is the only thing to do. I don't mind that following the story is the only thing to do in a game (most games are like that) but when developers provide a large, sandbox map to explore that sends expectations up in my opinion that there is going to be a hole lot of side stuff to do. I think that was a big let down for me.

The story I admit was good. And yes I would come to parts in the story where I said to myself, "I wonder what's going to happen next?" and then eagerly jumped into the next chapter. But I did not get this euphoric experience. I thought the whole story with Vito's real family was rather lacking actually. I thought they could have done more with that. I also thought the final conversation with your sister where she tells him she never wants to see him again was done poorly. The voice acting for the sister in that conversation was bad because I thought she was joking at first and then just randomly yells, "I never want to see you again," and hangs up the phone. Vito does shows no hint of emotion or anything and hangs up the phone like it was just another conversation. After that I wasn't really sure if she was serious or not but you never see or hear from your real family after that ever again. Quite frankly I'm really surprised that Vito even came out alive. I think he would have been murdered half way through the game in a "sane" (loosley used) world. I did like Joe though. There were a few different occassions through out the game that I thought, "Holy crap that reminds me so much of my uncle!"

The story is the only thing worth while about this game. Putting aside all the absurdly large amount of cussing and shameless use of sexual content I did not particularly care for it. I would only recommend just renting the game or borrowing it. You'll beat the game in less than a week easy. Only buy it if you just really need that extra time to get all the achievements.


New member
Jan 21, 2008
Russ Pitts said:
Jiki said:
I get the jarring feeling that mister Pitts hasn't heard that many stories in his life time. At least not good ones.
Add "in videogames" to the end of that post and you'll have nailed it, Spunkmeyer.
I must confess - I replied without delving too much into what you meant about the future of video gaming. Now, having thought about it for a bit, I do see how this "interactive theater" kind of thing can be one way of the future for video games, exemplified by games like Mafia 2 (where the world is a background to the story) and Mass Effect 2 (where the world is also a background to the story, only in there you can get more familiarly acquainted with the side characters), but I'm still wary of it. It's still the same old scheme of cutscenes alternating with gameplay elements in a dance where one has so little to do with the other. It's not how video game storytelling should be (and yes, I know you said Mafia 2 isn't a video game, but let me elaborate for a second) - it's an old age storytelling in a new age medium. Video game storytelling is the kind of stuff Valve, Frictional (although over some rocks and stumps) and the likes are doing, that is forming the story around the actions of the player.
Does this mean there shouldn't be "games" like Mafia 2? No, I don't think so - there is a place for games like that, but I find them similar to forcing a viewer read a book on a movie screen. In Mafia 2's case it's at least an interesting book, and so on another hand interactive theater could be good - it offers the recipient the ability to indeed get more acquainted with the background world and characters of the story s/he's absoring hence elevating the experience. So you're right - Mafia 2 is not truly a videogame, but ... what drags it down somewhat is that it too much reminds one and too often is.

Well, at least the potential is there. We'll see what comes of it.

Oh, but your article, however, is still an utterly despicable example of ecstatic pathos and while you have a point, I'd have preferred it presented in a more objective context. I could list everything I see wrong with it (including all the praise to the story, world and what-not), but I guess you're already getting enough flak for it, aigh, Jackiesson?

Soet Poet

New member
Feb 12, 2008
Ultratwinkie said:
Jiraiya72 said:
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.
its anything but average. a story like this doesn't come along very often. once in 8 years if you're lucky.
I agree that it's unusual, but 8 years is a bit much. I mean, Planescape: Torment, Baldur's gate 2 and Starcraft were released pretty close to each other. But I guess those were the golden ages of story-based games. When you had to use your imagination instead of advanced 3d techniques to draw a crowd.

EDIT: Mafia 2 accomplishes both though, so hats off to 2k Czech!


New member
Nov 19, 2009
I really can't take this seriously.

Maybe it's just perception, but I agree with everything the author said except spun in a negative light instead of a positive one. The world was just a means to an end and served no purpose other than to look good (but it did it really well). I could care less about Vito's family or any of the other people in his life because even he seemed to care little about them, and on top of that what seemed like parts of the story that should have carried more weight didn't because you just didn't know them that well.

I can understand doing mundane tasks to get to know the characters better or immerse the player better but ultimately Mafia 2 focused way too much time in doing mundane tasks without completing either objective.

I, for one, didn't think the story was paced well at all because there was such a disconnect between the story and the gameplay most of the time i.e. the mundane tasks. And I don't know what everyone else thinks about the driving, but Mafia 2 had the same problem with driving as the first game; you spend way too much time doing it. Unless it's a racing game I don't think that games have recreated the driving experience very well and Mafia 2 just takes the real world unfun of driving and none of the fantasy fun of it. In a game you can't roll down the windows, feel the wind in your hair, turn up the music, etc. and have that freedom sensation that it gives you in reality. I mean why else would movies, books, and all that other jazz skip things like this if it didn't serve some higher purpose or contribute something? I don't get it, especially when the game doesn't offer any free roam mode to let people who enjoy it do just that. I mean, even the first game let you do that.

Mafia 2 is just a game in really really pretty window dressing if there ever was one, but I give massive props to the game for it. For what it's worth, I thought the graphics were great, the atmosphere was amazing, the music really added to the settings, the voice acting was top notch, and the shooting experience was really staggeringly satisfying to me, but it all gets bogged down by everything else I listed above.

Ultimately, I didn't feel that Mafia 2 lived up to Mafia 1 at all in many respects. Maybe that's just nostalgia talking but not even Mafia 2's nostalgic moments helped me get over the problems with it. I definitely think the first Mafia told a much better human tale of a life living in the mob and doing morally questionable things and what happens when you get too ambitious, etc etc. Or maybe I'm just sad to see a beloved game not done justice with a sequel after waiting 8 years.


New member
Aug 15, 2008
cerebus23 said:
shakespere is rolling in his grave that this game was compared to his work.

the pacing and the acting is great no doubt, but there is no plot thread in the entire game that was not ripped off from the godfather, goodfellas, scarface, and 4 or 5 other mob movies.
Mostly this. If you've seen Goodfellas, then you could predict almost everything in this movie. Throw in a little Donnie Brasco, maybe some Carlito's Way or a pinch of A Bronx Tale, and boom, you've got Mafia 2. It was extraordinarily fun to use the magnum for almost the entire game, that gun has such a satisfying sound, Dirty Harry style.

Regardless the things I liked most about the game had very little to with the story, so I'll have to respectfully disagree and say that it was a game. Mostly because I installed it and shot things and could kill characters I shouldn't (aka the dock workers who helped you fight that fat bastard).


New member
Feb 13, 2010
I found the ending pretty soft. Also I hated the gun play. Generally it was okay, except the PC sniped me a couple of times (as in a head shot I assume) and the AI kept running faster than I could aim, making it annoying...


New member
Nov 20, 2009
For Christ's sake it's a game! Calling it an 'interactive theater experience' is completely stupid and is just as bad as calling offices 'idea-exchange pods' and vacuum cleaners 'multipurpose cleaning solutions.'
It seems like Russ really enjoyed Mafia 2, and that's great. But it's almost as if he liked it so much, he felt calling it a game wasn't doing it justice. BUT! Calling something a 'game' doesn't make it bad! It's just what it is! No matter how good a movie is, you're not going to call it anything else. You may have read a great novel recently- it's still a 'book.' So why oh why do people feel the need to jump on the 'games as art' bandwagon, eventually coming across as pretentious weirdos?
Mafia 2 is a game. And it's not a bad thing.


New member
Feb 11, 2009

I just finished playing Mafia 2 straight off the back of replaying Mafia 1. The first thing I noticed was the massive amount of Art Direction the new one has. The city is beautiful, authentic and large. Unfortunately, because the game is so linear you don't get the chance to explore it for any purpose other than sight seeing, which is a shame. The walk though a wintery city to buy some clothes on my first day out was stunning, if only I'd had more reason to take such walks.

For Russ to say that the game is interactive theatre is somewhat overdoing it. The story is good, but hardly unique and the ending feels quickly conceived. We're not really lead to the point that Vito is so power-crazy that he'd do Joe over before Leo, especially considering what he'd done to avoid Leo being killed earlier in the game, so his passivity at the end is out of character. And in his review, Russ cites the conversation with Frankie as being powerful and affecting, but she somehow, in the space of 2 sentences, goes from 'everything will be alright' to 'stay away from us', which felt jerky and poorly written. No comeback from Vito, just a simple hang up of the phone. In fact this is the problem with the game as a whole; the real poignant moments are treated as cliched cinematics, not as emotive events which suck you in. Russ is right in the sense that there is theatrical value to it, but it's obvious and formulaic; take struggling no prospects street kid, give him army training and the tension between doing right by his family (something which isn't nearly well enough covered)and his best friend's promise of money and girls, add a betrayal, an accidental ticket on the train to inoveryourhead'sville and season with a garnish of violent survival instinct.

Having said all that, the night Vito gets out of jail is brilliant. From whorehouse to disposing of dead body and then the drive down from the planetarium with two drunks in your car, singing some old love song, as you look out over the newly lit city of the 50s is just beautiful.

Where Mafia 2 really falls down is that the genre gameplay has moved on since the first and this game hasn't. There should have been options for the player to take his own path (as in Alpha Protocol), free drive, side quests, at least one chance to shoot whilst Joe drives and not play taxi service for the umpteenth time, stealth levels etc. I would have loved to have seen just one trip to a fairground for a date, which might have had a shooting gallery or strong man bell or something to do which wasn't 'drive here, shoot that, escape police'.

What has been made has been made very, very well, but there is so much missing. It seems incomplete and I suspect if Russ feels interactive theatre shines out, it is because the gameplay does not. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, a lot. But when the looming DLC for £9.99 looks like it may offer more fun in terms of gameplay than the game as a whole, I have to ask why the hell I needed to pay £29.99 for the main game.


New member
Sep 6, 2007
Albeit I don't quite agree with Mr Pitts assessment in it's entirety (Shakespeare was kind of reaching), I believe he's thinking on the right tracks. Mafia 2 might dip into the cliche pool at times (it's a genre piece about violent criminals, your going to hit the usual themes), but its story is very much it's own at the end of the day and certainly several steps up from the schizophrenic storytelling of GTA IV.