SAN FRANCISCO, CA – 2K Games is bringing back the critically acclaimed Mafia franchise with a brand new game engine and an original story penned by writer/director Daniel Vavra. He’s the man responsible for turning the original game into a blockbuster that sold over 2 million copies for previous publisher Gathering of Developers. For those who didn’t play through the original, here’s a spoiler, everyone dies at the end of the game. Hence, it’s a whole new cast of characters for this sequel – 270 unique characters, to be exact.
Mafia II Producer Denby Grace used San Francisco’s Italian neighborhood in North Beach to showcase the first gameplay from the Xbox 360 version of the upcoming open world, third-person perspective shooter. The mission demoed inside Sodini’s Italian restaurant was appropriately called “Room Service.” While the bulk of the game, including this level, takes place in 1950s Empire City, a stylized version of New York City, the game actually begins in 1944 with protagonist Vito Scaletta returning from World War II.
Like any good crime story, this violent tale focuses on Vito and his best pal Joey as they work their way up the ranks of the local mafia. Within Empire City’s 10 square miles of gameplay, there are 20 diverse neighborhoods, including Little Italy, filled with missions, side quests and exploration. This game’s playing field is twice the size of the original.
“Room Service” takes place inside the Empire Arms Hotel, where Vito and Joey are tasked with assassinating a rival boss named Clemente. With the hotel armed to the hilt with mobsters, this isn’t a walk in the park. In fact, going in guns ablaze is a sure-fire way to get killed in many of Mafia II’s missions, according to Grace.
“We give players the ability to go a non-violent route by getting into uniform as a window washer, which allows them to rig the wires to the roof and then set off a bomb to eliminate the boss,” said Grace. “Since this is the ‘50s, the bombs have to be wired and set off manually, which makes this task taxing.”
As is often the case with young guns in over their heads – the scenario Grace uses to describe Vito and Joey’s journey into organized crime – all doesn’t go according to plan and Clemente, who was in the bathroom, avoids the explosion. An all-our gunfight erupts as Vito and Joey try to track down Clemente, while keeping their own lungs breathing.
“We’ve created a combat system that allows players to kick ass,” said Grace. “There’s a cover system and an assortment of weapons to provide a visceral gunplay experience. We also have a cool melee system so players can pick up objects in a room, like a baseball bat, and go after enemies.”
After blasting their way through corridors filled with gangsters, tommy guns blasting through overturned tables and bar stools, Vito and Joey end up in an intense car chase through the streets of Empire City in hot pursuit of Clemente. The car combat system allows for dynamic destruction of the vehicles and environment as Joey hangs out the window firing at Clemente’s car while avoiding returning fire.
Grace sums up Mafia II as an intense shooter wrapped inside an open world game. The level of detail in the environments, including bullet holes in the walls and bottles bursting on the bars in shootouts, brings the world to life. This “authentic city” is one of the game’s three core elements, which also includes the aforementioned intense gunplay, and a strong narrative.
As players progress through the story, Grace believes they will connect with these colorful characters. Since this is a violent game, deaths will occur. And losses will not only impact the actions of characters in the game, but also could have a lasting affect on players, according to Grace.
From this first glimpse of the game in action, 2K Czech is well on its way to delivering a crime story that’s very different from The Godfather II. It’s also a huge leap beyond the original Mafia, thanks in large part to the beautiful world and attention to every little detail from authentic weapons and vehicles, to identifiable characters. Mafia II blasts onto Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC this fall.