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You're in the family now
The original Mafia is cracking third-person adventure, similar in scope to the Grand Theft Auto games, and which stands well in comparison with its rival. This sequel however, is rather disappointing and is likely to appeal only to diehard fans of the genre. It's still a good game but lacks anything to make it special, which makes it a frustratingly enjoyable experience. The story here is set in the 1940s and 1950s and follows the misadventures of an Italian immigrant family in the US as their become increasingly intertwined with organized crime. The core gameplay is pretty much the same as the first game, this being a free-roaming adventure which mixes combat, exploration, and driving, while the story follows a linear path and is divided into chapters. Combat is a blend of shooting, now quite similar to things like Gears of War, and brawling, while encounters with the police are less frequent than before, although you still get the option to bribe them, in-keeping with the game's crime theme. There's also a range of authentic period weapons and vehicles to make use of. The best part of the game is almost undoubtedly the storyline and without this aspect, Mafia II would be a tough one to recommend. Although the various plot elements are familiar, they're well-told and integrated into the storyline, creating a fairly gripping tale. Gameplay however, suffers from a lack of substance and variation, while being intensely similar to other better games, so you're ultimately left with a game which doesn't live up to its potential.