Missions to Empire City
Attractive and varied when viewed in car, Empire City is eerily barren and lifeless when you step out. GTA IV's Liberty City made you feel its inhabitants would continue to go about their business even with the console switched off, but Empire City feels more like Westworld, where NPCs are simple automatons awaiting the stimulus of player interaction.
Shots in store
Fortunately, there's a lot more life - and death - in the game's missions. Here, the engine comes into its own to deliver high enemy counts and varied architecture, from skyscraper building sites and dockside warehouses to tenement blocks and prison courtyards.
Enemy AI is decent enough, as are the cover and aiming systems. But while none excels to elevate Mafia II's gunplay above average, destructible scenery adds a welcome additional dimension to shootouts.
Not so welcome are the long drives between missions. A feature of the original Mafia game – not to mention countless GTA titles – the long distances feel like unnecessary padding. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the end of chapters, where you're forced to drive all the way across town just to get home and 'sleep' to end the chapter and save your progress.
Swallow my load
It's a last-gen mechanic that Rockstar improved in GTA IV and all but abandoned with the 'skip to destination' in Red Dead Redemption, so it's a shame to see it rear its ugly head here in Mafia II.
Mafia II is not a bad game, it's an above-average one undermined by mediocre elements. Despite the clichés, the scripting and acting engage throughout. And the gunplay always entertains, and occasionally thrills. But as much as these positive elements combine to compel completion, the sparsity of Empire Bay and the overuse of protracted driving sections remain a constant deterrent. ®
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This obsession with....
...sandbox games is getting jarring.
Give me a game that either tells a good story or allows you to construct a good story in your head around the bare bones of the game.
Having to shoot 150 birds to get an achievement isn't always the best way to lengthen a game.
it's one of the reasons I loved Max Payne II so much - short, sweet and to the point, but it's like reading a graphic novel. I'll come back and play it every 6 months or so and enjoy it every time.
I'm enjoying Mafia II so far - don't let the obsession with having 1001 pointless tasks take away from the fact that the game tells an engrossing story.
It's not perfect, but it's much better than these "It's not GTA!" reviews make it out to be.
indiana jones on ps3
hear hear, those 2 games are the way to go. Excellent writing and characterisation, stunning visuals and a fair dash of comedy chucked into the mix. Speilberg couldn't have done it better
for ultimate sandbox.....
play fallout 3. you can play it for days not even doing main missions. you really can do what you want on it. and once completed play it again as a baddie :)
Either of the uncharted games for a good story and decent controls system.
The 2nd one got nice visuals too.
Those empty, pointless, but pretty parts of the city are probably for DLC missions. I'm guessing they made a full sandbox game, then pulled out all the side-quests in order to sell them separately. Otherwise, why would they have bothered to model such large navigable-but-unused parts of the city? (Instead of, say, putting a lake there). It might become a proper sandbox game after its price again in add-ons. I guess I'll have to wait and see.
That said, they really did do a great job with the ambiance -- it really felt like the times/places in question, for a variety of reasons: The music, especially (and the news reports that play from time to time on the radio, describing things like the progress of the war), as well as the clothing, the buildings, the voice acting, the slowness of the cars, etc.