Mafia II

Staring down the barrel of greatness

Released in 2002, the original Mafia was pretty much one of the standout games of that year. It offset its admittedly mediocre driving (1930s bangers + speed limits = major yawns) with top shooting and a plot that honestly wouldn%26rsquo;t have looked out of place alongside Oscar-winning underworld fare like Goodfellas. Despite being lauded by critics and lapped up by the PC brigade, a steaming conversion to Xbox and PS2 meant that it ended up stinking up the joint on console. And that was a darn shame, compounded by GTA III shooting Rockstar into the stratosphere almost simultaneously. GTA, as we all know, then went from strength to strength while Mafia devs Illusion Softworks went on to make the Cleveland steamer that was Vietcong. Funny how life works out sometimes, eh fellas?

Now, as definitive proof of the existence of gaming karma, Mafia has at last broken free of its six-year concrete overcoat and arisen, spluttering seaweed, from the shores of Lost Heaven. Obviously, there%26rsquo;s a new (anti) hero this time round %26ndash; made man-turned-police rat Tommy Angelo having been rubbed out by the remnants of the Salieri family at the tear-shedding climax of the first game. Enter fresh meat Vito Scaletta, son of Sicilian immigrants, and his grand dreams of becoming a Goodfella in 40s/50s Empire City (afictional Big Apple.)

Although it%26rsquo;s hardly Fallout 3 in its scale, we%26rsquo;re promised Vito will be able to make moral decisions at crucial junctures in the story. With Daniel Vavra %26ndash; writer and director of the original %26ndash; back on board, we%26rsquo;re expecting nothing less than one of the most stellar narratives in videogame history. Take it from us; this guy%26rsquo;s that good.

Obviously though, the sandbox drive/shoot/Bada-Bing-%26lsquo;em-up genre has changed a wee bit since %26rsquo;02, with GTA IV setting a seemingly untoppable watermark. But wait, what%26rsquo;s this? Incredi-screenshots ahoy! Admittedly (and frustratingly), having not actually seen Mafia 2 in action yet, these outrageously pleasing shots and some new details are all we have to go on. That said, the original Mafia was one of the most beautiful PC games ever seen, so there%26rsquo;s no reason to doubt the Illusion boys (now all bought up and reinvented as 2K Czech) will do a stellar job on the visuals front.

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