Mafia II PC Game ReviewnVidia_Freak - October 5, 2010
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Mafia II is a third-person shooter that puts you into the shoes of a poor, Sicilian immigrant, Vito Scarletta. Vito has just returned home from serving overseas in the liberation of fascist Italy — to avoid serving his jail sentence — to find his family in debt. The debt must be repaid by the end of the week, and, his childhood friend, Joe Barbaro, conveniently happens to have questionable connections that he assures Vito will help clear the debt by that time. As such, Vito is sucked into a world of quick cash.
Joe’s connection turns out to be one of the three Mafia families that vie for control of the city. Vito will find himself working for each of them at some point, and will be doing much of the same things for each one — driving to various locations, shooting everyone in sight, and driving back back for more of the same.
Though the game play is simple and the story is a very typical Mafia-type one, it is gripping. However, some parts of the story feel unfinished, out of place, and quite a few jobs, and even entire chapters, feel as though they should’ve been briefly explained in cutscenes.
Hitler and prison-sex, for instance.
It's not all bad, though. Nearly all the jobs will see Vito engage in gun combat and this is something Mafia II does rather well. Fights reach a quick crescendo, but are ultimately satisfying, and the controls are simple — click to aim, click to shoot, click to punch, double or triple-click for extra punches. Gunfights make large use of the environment, as rushing enemies will simply get you killed, so using cover provides you the best chance of success. Again, this is very simple — press a button to stick to a wall or box, strafe, aim to peek out, shoot, repeat. Surprisingly, the simpleness doesn't make the fighting dull. The fights are actually very fun.
Beat 'em up, blow 'em up.
Or knock 'em off their feet.
A Brief Note On PhysX:
Mafia II makes use of the NVIDIA PhysX engine to enhance impacts, explosions and the like. With PhysX enabled, gun fire and explosions are accented with smoke, car crashes are greeted with smoke and debris, and crates and pillars chip away and scatter debris that sometimes makes Vito's cover object become smaller or less effective. The debris is worked into the game mechanics as well, as debris that hits Vito can cause him to take damage. PhysX can be enabled with the 'Medium' or 'High' settings. The difference between the two settings is the amount of PhysX objects that are created, with 'Medium' producing less than 'High' for less powerful cards.
Disabling PhysX, however, removes some of this. The largest difference is that, although debris is still seen flying about, there is less of it, and debris is no longer PhysX objects and do not inflict damage, making occasional portions of the game less dramatic. PhysX isn't a particularly integral part of Mafia II, but there is a slight difference in combat with PhysX enabled and disabled. Below are some comparison screen shots with PhysX enabled on the left and disabled on the right.
If you're having difficulty seeing the difference, it's not your fault — there just isn't a huge difference. More debris and smoke is all you get along with a performance hit. If you look closely in the middle two comparisons, you can notice the difference between the PhysX objects and the animations. This, as mentioned, is the only real game changing element of PhysX, in which Vito will take damage if the objects hit him.