As we've pointed out ad nauseam in our coverage of Mafia II this week, the first Mafia set a high bar for storytelling in GTA-style crime games. Assuming it follows through on the standards set by its predecessor, Mafia II will likely be as much about the complex relationships between its deeply flawed criminal leads as it will be about shooting mooks in the face and blowing up storefronts.
To give you an idea of what you can expect from this 1940s-'50s mob drama, here's everything we know about the game's main characters so far:
The protagonist of Mafia II is drawn into the mob for personal reasons, nearly all of them having to do with him wanting the money and respect he saw lavished on mob guys when he was a kid. The son of a Sicilian immigrant, Vito was born into a life of poverty on the mean streets of Empire City and grew up determined to avoid becoming a "nobody" like his father. After a botched robbery gets him shipped off to World War II, he comes home determined to make it big - and he sees life as a mobster as the way to achieve that, both for himself and those around him.
Raised in circumstances similar to Vito's, Joe's a small-time hoodlum who's been friends with Vito since the two were kids. While Vito was off fighting Nazis, Joe was back home committing petty crimes on behalf of the mob - and when Vito comes home from the war, Joe is his ticket into the underworld. Throughout the game, Joe and Vito will be partners in crime, and their friendship will be one of the most important elements of the game's story.
Unlike Vito and Joe, Henry's already a made man - which, if you've never seen a gangster movie, means he's a full-fledged soldier in a crime family, bound by an oath of loyalty and guaranteed the family's full protection. We're not entirely sure why a made man is hanging out with a couple of small-time (at least at first) toughs like Vito and Joe, though. Maybe he grew up with them. Maybe he was assigned to them by his Cosa Nostra overlords. Or maybe he's just decided to take them under his wing, like a big brother.
Whatever the case, Henry's status as a made man is an inspiration to Joe and Vito, and aside from being a buddy to the two, he oversees their induction into, and rise within, the mob.
According to publisher 2K Games, the city itself will be one of the main characters of Mafia II - which would make us skeptical, if Grand Theft Auto IV didn't appear to be pulling it off so well with Liberty City. That's not to say the city will come to life or speak directly to Vito, of course, but its character will come through in other ways. The city's 10 square miles are densely populated and filled with things to interact with, and pains have been taken to make everything look and feel like 1940s and '50s New York. Empire City will be a unique place, we're told, and its personality will be evident in its architecture; in its landmarks; in the distinct, worn look of its buildings and infrastructure; and in the behavior of its citizens, who'll realistically go about their business and react to the things you do. It'll also have a longer criminal history than all three of its "living" leads put together, which is something to bear in mind as you guide Vito to try and make it big.
Apr 10, 2008