Mafia II

But eye candy isn%26rsquo;t the only department where Mafia 2 is packing some serious heat. Slick, intimate details hint at just how far the devs are intent on pushing the open-world envelope this time out. How about cheeky touches like being able to buy a newspaper and browse through the current affairs of the time? Or take a seat, turn on the radio, and listen to the oldies when they were new? That should certainly guarantee a high quality soundtrack, at least. We%26rsquo;re talking seriously nifty levels of interactivity here. That%26rsquo;s without even mentioning a map that sprawls for over ten square miles and is fully unlocked from the onset of the adventure. Coolest of all %26ndash; in similar fashion to the ultimately pap Driver: Parallel Lines %26ndash; is the way in which Empire City and its vehicles will actually move with the times as the narrative progresses through the 40s and 50s, imbuing the story and gameplay with an evocative sense of place.

The original Mafia%26rsquo;s much-maligned driving has also seen an overhaul, so expect not only a far snappier fleet of vehicles %26ndash; now also including motorbikes %26ndash; to drive to destruction, but a framerate that (unlike the original%26rsquo;s mind-meltingly sluggish console version) can comfortably keep pace with the action. Crucially, cops won%26rsquo;t be quite so %26lsquo;diligent%26rsquo; now either. Gone are the days when you%26rsquo;d be in the midst of a mission, creeping along at 35mph, only to hear the dreaded sirens of the fuzz a-wailing as they arrived to stove your face in for speeding. Now it%26rsquo;s pedal to the metal time, although push your luck too far and we%26rsquo;re warned there will still be hefty consequences...

Like some kind of extraordinary next-gen checklist, 2K Czech are even attempting to imbue Mafia 2 with %26lsquo;verticality%26rsquo;, 2008%26rsquo;s gaming gimmick of choice. Vito will be able to scale Empire City%26rsquo;s equivalents of both the Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State during the course of missions (our guess is they%26rsquo;ll involve a spot of high altitude sniping), which means we%26rsquo;ll hopefully be able to take in some spectacular sights alongside all that cotton wool balls-in-mouth, severed-nag%26rsquo;s-head-in-bed Cosa Nostra drama.

All good things to say at this point in time then, though admittedly we%26rsquo;re primarily going off our stellar memories of the original married with the absurdly impressive-sounding gameplay promises in this new installment. With no actual gameplay experience under our belts and no mention whatsoever about crucial aspects like multiplayer, this might yet turn out to be a white (and red and green) elephant %26ndash; but somehow we doubt it. Put your bets on this one being a blast.

Nov 12, 2008