Crime on Facebook is about to get more visual with the upcoming launch of Mafia Wars 2. The direct sequel is a first for games studio Zynga, which hopes to impress fans of the original empire-building crime RPG with a brand new story – and more graphics!

The game begins with you leaving prison after serving a lengthy sentence. As a reward for keeping your mouth shut and serving time for the greater good of your crime family, you’ll get a helping hand building an empire of your own at your home turf in Las Vegas. 2D cut scenes set the stage for your upcoming rise to power with cigar-smoking men and a sexed up sidekick named Zoe. She’ll be your go-to girl when you start off, helping you with hints and assistance as the game opens up.

The most noticeable difference for fans of the original Mafia Wars will be Mafia Wars 2’s new look. The sequel makes use of an isometric perspective, similar to other Zynga “ville” titles – and it seems to work well in Mafia Wars 2; it’s much more rewarding and satisfying to see your home turf grow now, as you add more buildings. Of course, you’ll start out by building the most basic units, like banks and “grow houses,” but as you progress you’ll be able to turn your barren batch of land into a bustling neighborhood of sin with giant casinos.

There are also new PvP arenas to explore, like the Bone Yard. Here, you can challenge other Mafia Wars 2 players to duels or “asynchronous” battles as Zynga calls them. That means that the players you single out in these PvP arenas aren’t fighting you in real-time, though according executive producer David Kahn, Zynga may have plans for “synchronous” gameplay in the future.

Above: Here’s the Bone Yard. Make a name for yourself by defeating other players as you climb the leaderboard

Like many Facebook and Zynga titles, Mafia Wars 2 encourages cooperation with friends. As you progress in the game, you’ll eventually need to decide on a crafting specialization, which will make you better at creating offensive, defensive, economic, and decorative items. That’s just one way the game will try to make it worth your while to join forces with other players to ensure that you have the best items for yourself.

The strength in numbers design of the game also carries over to boss fights. Recruiting friends will make battles easier as you continue to climb your way up Las Vegas’ ladder of crime. It also seems that a lot of the core mechanics from the original remain intact and that’s probably a good thing. Striking a balance between building up your home turf, investing in defenses to keep rival gangs out, and having a group of friends who've got your back, will still factor into your everyday decisions. Anti-griefing mechanics will also continue to keep the crime family battles civil. For example, the game will still offer diminishing returns if you keep trying to raid the same player’s home turf over and over again, charging more and more energy for continued assaults.

While an official launch date for Mafia Wars 2 has not been announced, Zynga expects that the game will go live in the “next few weeks.” In the meantime, you can visit the Mafia Wars 2 Facebook page and join the 283,000 fans who “like” the game for a look at the recently released Mafia Wars 2 digital comic. Zynga worked with art collective studio UDON to produce the comic. So if you’re a fan of any of UDON’s previous art books paying tribute to all things Capcom, you might want to take a look.

Oct 3, 2011



1 comment

  • Cruddi - October 4, 2011 2:59 a.m.

    REALLY? pre-views of Facebook "games" they are bigger time sinks than World of warcraft. Least World of warcraft is good

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