Mafia 2 Demo Impressions

Earlier this week the demo for Mafia 2 was released to PlayStation Network and Xbox live Marketplace.  The demo has you playing the ‘Buzzsaw’ level, this level is set in the summer of the 50’s – a time that saw the invention of Hot Rods, Rock n’ Roll and played witness to the birth of cool. The demo shows of a brief but substantial piece of the action that you will see in the full game.

The first thing you will come across in the demo is your house, a nice house – quite spacious considering your living on your own (lad’s mag on the kitchen table). Having not heard much about this game I was actually quite surprised that I could turn the taps on or flush the toilet: Utterly pointless although a nice touch. Already the realism of the game is starting to creep in. Tearing myself away from flushing the toilet, I ventured outside.

Outside of the house, it’s easy to see that the graphics are actually quite good. Jumping into a car then you can see the rust, mud, paint and dust effects coating the bodywork. Even the tangled mess of a bonnet you have after you crash into someone looks good. Explosions, glass breaking and other world altering effects like this look well modelled and animated. There is one downside to the graphical area; unfortunately, this game comes packaged with screen tearing. I have seen worse though, It only takes your attention from the game for a fraction of a second. Still there is no getting around it being a blemish on this games metaphorical skin.

The cars look good, what’s better is they are also decent to drive too, driving is quite a large part of open world games; it needs to be, at least, semi-decent. Getting a car is simple, just smash the window in and start the engine, hey presto your on the roads. At this point, I switched the driving on to the ‘simulation’ setting; this adds more of a realistic feel to the car, squirrely and easy to lock the wheels when breaking, a decent throttle control is also needed. Overall, the steering is good and from the selection of driveable cars in the demo, none of them make you feel like you’re the captain of a battleship, even the lorry cab feels like a decent drive. The house comes complete with a garage to house cars – up to ten in the demo, though I’m assuming there will be the opportunity to upgrade to a bigger garage in the final release.

A problem I found in Grand Theft Auto, if you damage your car enough then it will burst into a ball of flames: That’s not fun. There seems to be a winning formula in Mafia 2: your engine will quit if you crash into enough objects. Ok, now I need a new car? No! Just jump out and fix the engine. It’s that simple – you careless drivers no longer need to jump from car to car. Hover you’re not stuck with a dented car, a trip to the garage will fix it up. While you’re there you can paint the car change the rims or even tune the car, I’m not sure whether its imagination or the engine sounds different when you tune the car.

The sound effects in general are quite good! Just getting into a tunnel with one of the faster cars makes you want to open up the throttle, the sound effects on the cars are, well.. Let me say this: Jeremy Clarkson would be impressed. There are noises in all the right places: opening and closing the boot, the doors and even smashing the windows. The radio plays some quite catchy songs and this all combined helps the game with that immersive feel.

Resisting the urge to run the V6 at full throttle through a tunnel however, may be a good idea. If the cops catch a whiff of you over the speed limit then they will be after you faster than one of the Mafia’s pet pooches. This isn’t a good thing obviously, especially as these cops are extremely tough. There is no way you can out run the cops in a straight line so your best bet is to get round some corners and break the line of sight. Firefights are also a good way of losing the cops; perhaps too easy? I went to rob the gun shop, which was easy enough, popping some caps into the shop owner, stealing a bit of ammo, and raiding the till. Two cops then turned up – killing them was just asking the Sergeant to give the A-OK to use automatic weapons. The phone in the shop sorted the police in about ten seconds; I negotiated a bribe and the police just went away, too easy. Alternatively, maybe it’s a blessing, they are quite tough after all.

Firefights will happen quite frequently throughout this game, I would not specifically say that they are bad; however, the weapon selection system is a bit cumbersome. Personally, the scrolling system doesn’t work for me, I would much prefer it if they used a pick up and drop system: allowing you to have only one sidearm and one main weapon. Another thing I found annoying: the weapon aim button seems to toggle, one pressed you seem to be permanently aiming until you put your weapon away. It’s an awkward system, but once you get used to it you don’t notice it that much.

Ok so the gunplay wasn’t outstanding; the game isn’t graphically wowing and the driving can’t really be compared to the likes of Forza or Grand Turismo, but what do we expect – it’s trying to be good at everything and doesn’t excel in any area. That doesn’t make it a bad game, in fact it’s a pretty decent game. However, I haven’t played the story: could that make this an absolutely brilliant game?

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