10 reasons to respect Mafia II

4. Destructible environments
With the window washer safely restrained, the duo took the window-washing platform down past floor after populated, furnished floor (no conveniently reflective windows here) until they arrived at the meeting room, now packed with high-ranking mobsters. As Vito pretended to wash the windows (with player-controlled squeegee action), Joe rigged the timer on the bomb – which, after the pair had ascended a few floors, went off prematurely and massively.

Easing their way back down to the crime scene, the pair surveyed the remains of the room, now littered with bodies and gutted by the blast. The only thing left intact was the restroom attached to the meeting room, which as it happened was where Clemente - the one boss the pair had a vendetta against - was when the bomb went off. He emerged unharmed, recognized Joe and Vito, and took off.through the hotel.

More fighting followed, this time against all those heavily armed goons Joe and Vito had passed earlier. Vito almost immediately grabbed a Tommy gun off a downed thug, which appeared to have some real thunder behind it as it tore realistically through the classy glass-cube walls of the hotel bar, leaving behind shattered remnants and the supporting rebar.

Grace told us that, during sequences like this, different scripted events will occur depending on the path you decide to take through the level; in this case, we got to watch Joe grab a guy and hurl him through a window, something we’re told we won’t be able to do ourselves.

The rest of the mission was spent mowing down mob henchmen on the way to the hotel elevator. As an elevator came up toward their floor, Joe and Vito braced to meet a storm of armed thugs, only to frighten a hotel cleaning woman half to death. Racing back down to the garage, Joe and Vito found that Clemente had left poor Marty riddled with bullets and slumped in a puddle of his own blood. No surprises there.

The mission concluded with a choppy-looking car chase (the version of the game we saw was still early, after all), with Joe and Vito desperate for revenge.

5. The punishment fits the crime
One of the biggest questions surrounding Mafia II is how the game will handle cops. In the first Mafia, the police would be on you for things as minor as speeding or running a red light. They probably still will in Mafia II, but their response will vary depending on the severity of your offense. For example, they’re not going to aggressively chase you down just for speeding if you try to evade them, but if they see you commit murder, they’ll be a lot more tenacious. And with jail time meaning game over, you really don’t want them to be tenacious.

Also, because car trunks in Mafia II can be used for storage, there’ll be moments in the game that call for stowing a body in there. Get pulled over with a stiff in the trunk, and the game will do its best to ramp up the tension as the cop decides whether or not he wants to take a look in the back, and you decide whether or not it’s a good idea to kill a cop.

Mafia II also features fat cops, who’ll try to chase after you if you commit a crime while on foot. If you do something relatively minor, like fire a gun into the air or punch someone, they’ll chase after you for a few blocks, get winded and give up the pursuit. If, however, you gun someone down in broad daylight, they’ll immediately call in more able backup to deal with you.

There’ll also be two wanted levels in Mafia II – one for Vito, and one for whatever car he’s driving. If cops only see his car when he commits a crime, then he’ll be able to ditch the car once he’s lost his pursuers. If they identify him, though, it’ll be a lot tougher to shake the cops, and Vito might be forced to lay low for a while.

6. The story promises to be epic
The first Mafia, released in 2002, set a high-water mark for storytelling in an interactive medium. With the same team behind it and enormous care reportedly being taken with the script, Mafia II is poised to be a respectable followup, if not overtake the original completely.

Again, Mafia II is the story of 10 years in the life of Vito, with a focus on the buddy dynamic between him and Joe. When the game begins, the two will start out as low-level thugs doing low-level thug work, but both dream of living the good life as made men. And when the two do get made, they finally get a taste of the glamour they always envied, which will change the game dynamic. As Grace pointed out, made men don’t steal cars or buy suits; they simply have these things brought to them by underlings (who probably stole them). As the two become more prominent mob figures, people’s reactions to them change; at first, nobody knows who Joe and Vito are, but as the game progresses they’ll be respected, feared and recognized on the street by strangers.

It wouldn’t be a Mafia game if it ended there, of course. After getting made, Vito begins to see mob life for what it really is: a never-ending cycle of violence and murders, with no light at the end of the tunnel. Things will get bleak, and even happy-go-lucky Joe will be gradually sent down “a pretty dark path” by Marty’s death, Grace said.

The story of the script itself is almost as epic; originally 500 pages long and written in Czech, Mafia II’s script is still in the process of being translated, edited, re-translated and recorded. Throughout the course of the game’s development, it’s been passed between three teams – lead designer Daniel Vavra and other writers at 2K Czech, translators in the UK and then Scalici, whose job it is to rewrite the rough English text into convincing American mobster-speak. Bearing in mind that the game features around 270 characters and that background conversations break out all the time, it’s not really surprising that the story’s still a work in progress.