Category: Sandbox / open world crime game
Developer: Take Two Interactive
Mac Publisher: Feral Interactive
System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6.8, 2GHz Intel processor, 2GB RAM, 10GB Hard disk space, 256MB graphics card (Not supported: ATI X1xxx series, AMD HD2400, NVIDIA 9400, NVIDIA 7xxx series and Intel GMA series. The following cards require you to have 4GB of System RAM: NVIDIA 320M, Intel HD 3000)
Review Computer: 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac, 4GB RAM
Network Feature: No
Processor Compatibility: Intel
Rated: M for Mature
Availability: Out now
Mafia 2: The Director’s Cut has an intriguing premise: Grand Theft Auto meets The Godfather. You play a low-level thug in WWII-era New York, working your way up the criminal food chain by shaking down dock workers, pulling heists, and, of course, driving around a huge city in different stolen cars while listening to the radio. Mafia 2 (M2) also has a deep background story for your character, which is also its biggest problem; they’re so focused on telling the story of Vito Scaletta that the flow of the gameplay keeps being interrupted by cutscene after cutscene.
The problem with games getting more cinematic is that movies make for pretty boring games. Cutscenes are getting better—in fact a lot of trailers for video games are better than trailers for films (I’m looking at you, Star Wars)—but you can’t play a cutscene. Adding to the problem is open-world “sandbox” games where the player is free to wander around, without a mission driving them from plot point to plot point. Freedom can be boring.
When you actually get to play M2, it’s a pretty fun and familiar game. You run around, getting missions from lowlifes that require you to steal cars, drive around, collect weapons, avoid cops and slowly amass money. M2 does an especially good job with its opening; you learn the basics of combat during Vito’s stint in the invasion of Sicily, storming a Fascist stronghold before an injury gets him shipped home, only to find that his widowed mother is now deep in debt to a loan shark. Honest work won’t pay it off by the end of the week, so Vito turns to his old friend who’s got an in with the Mob.
The game works hard to get you invested in Vito and his motivations. The problem is that they do this with a virtually endless series of cutscenes and Roger Corman-esque walking bits. It’s not enough that you realize (after a cutscene) that you have to go visit your friend. You have to get to his apartment, go into his building, walk up a flight of stairs, find his apartment, then have another cutscene where he explains that he’s in the mob and can get you out of the Army with a forged discharge, then walk to his car, drive to forger, another cutscene where you get the documents, practice with a handgun, then another cutscene where you get a job to steal a car.
There’s nothing wrong with cutscenes to set mood or advance a story, but M2 simply has too many of them. Even when you get a truly thrilling mission that provides a lot of tension on its own, like one where Vito must break into a federal office building to steal gas ration stamps without alerting any of the guards, then make an escape as police storm the building, it’s broken up with driving to an apartment building to pick up a woman who needs a lift to her sister. Granted, you can skip these scenes, but then you miss the reasons why you need to drive to all these gas stations before midnight.
Gameplay wise, the game suffered from sluggishness. My review computer met most of the recommended requirements for M2, yet gameplay still slowed down every time I went outside or into a room with a lot of NPCs. Fishtailing was a big problem while trying to drive as well, as the car controls were slow to respond.
If you are willing to invest the time into sitting through the (admittedly well-put-together) story of Mafia 2: The Director’s Cut, there’s a really engaging story here. Unfortunately the cutscene to gameplay ratio is way too high.