Mafia 2 - First Shot
It's clear from the outset that developer 2k Czech** wanted to make this a "cinematic" game. The first 15 minutes of the game is almost entirely pre-rendered movies. They spend a great deal of time talking about your (Vito's) life as a child immigrant, your father's alcoholism and dirty dealings, your views on the wealth disparity within the city, etc. It certainly does a good job of drawing you into the world and the characters, but there is one huge problem: This is a game, not a movie.
Back in the days of Grand Theft Auto 3 (the original), your character didn't even talk. He just nodded when people told him to do horrific and sociopathic things. In a way, this was a smart move because there was no context to dispute the man's character. Maybe he just was a sociopath.
Young Vito, before the fall into loserdom.
In Mafia 2, Vito grows up in squalor, turns to a life of petty crime as a young adult, is caught and plea-bargains out of jail by joining the army during World War 2. Great, that's an interesting guy. He's got a troubled past, but he's also now an upstanding war hero and has every chance in the world to lead a happy, productive life. And what does our war hero do the second he gets home for a two week furlough? He goes AWOL, weasels out of active duty for the rest of war, abandons his fellow soldiers that are fighting and dying in the Ardennes Forest, so that he can stay home and become a petty criminal again.
What a pathetic, unreliable, loser of man. And if this were a movie, you could chalk it up to, "Well, this is the story of a flawed man and by the end, he will have either realized how stupid he's been, or he will be a character out of a Greek tragedy, succumbing to his own weaknesses." The problem is, I have to play this pussy degenerate! It's hard to get excited about jumping into the role of a coward and low life, when he's so intricately detailed. With GTA 3, I could just ignore the fact that I was low-life because I had no personality to speak of. No such luck here.
Vito back from the war, permanently.
It's so very odd to play a game where you want your character to suffer and die. It's antithetical to gaming. It's playing the bad guy; not the guy you love to hate, but the guy you just hate. He isn't a criminal mastermind or a James Bond villain. There's no charm or wit or finesse. There's just cowardice and failure. He doesn't frighten me or intrigue me. He just disgusts me......
.........Look for the full review soon!
No, Vito, even smoking won't make you cool after what you pulled.
** Please stop doing this to your studios, 2K Games! We get it, you love pasting your completely uninspired corporate name on everything you see. Now you have gone and done it to your Czech Republic studio? A formerly Soviet-oppressed country, and you go and homogenize them again?! Bring back Illusion Studios (their former name)!