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GAMES OF 2010: Mafia II

Mafia II had me talking like a tough-guy the whole time I played it. Although I still can't say “wack a guy” without giggling just a little.

I know I've been off the grid for a while and it's now great to be back. I got a lot of things planned for Press Start including a new ratings system for reviews and an upcoming video series. Keep an eye on this blog in the next coming weeks!

Speaking of which, there were a lot of games deserving of mention in 2010. I'll be posting more “Games of 2010” posts in the coming weeks in addition to the regular stuff. I'm starting off with probably one of the best games to come out of 2010! To be blunt, I've had it up to here with the open-world, “Grand Theft Auto clones” but Mafia II comes out strong and, actually, does it better than any GTA I've played since Vice City!

First off, the story in Mafia II is outstanding. The voice work is believable and sophisticated while the story is worthy of Scorsese! You'll find yourself fighting sleep in the middle of the night to play through many parts of Mafia II just to see what happens next to the protagonist, Vito. I can't say enough about how engaging and deep the story is in Mafia II. I actually remember talking to the developers a few E3s ago and when we talked about the story, you could see their eyes brighten as they really drove home their point on this subject.

Like I said, it's a GTA clone but it's a good one. The gameplay is almost identical to GTA IV what with the shooting, the car jacking, the fighting. Little tweaks make Mafia II unique among the ocean of open-world games such as “fisticuffs” style of fighting when you get into a scrap with another character and a lock picking mini-game when you break into cars. Also, the cops in Mafia II don't play around. They'll do everything from bust you for armed assault to give you a speeding ticket! It's also pretty hard to shake The Fuzz in Mafia II; often times cops will tail you relentlessly forcing you to have to change your clothes to lose them.

The only thing I was disappointed in when playing Mafia II was the use of nude Playboy models as an incentive to collect the Playboy magazines scattered throughout the world. It's a completely cheap incentive; it's like a politician trying to win over a town of people by gratuitously claiming to have lived in that town at one point. It's a total crutch. Regardless, Mafia II will definitely get lots of nominations at the Game Developers Choice awards this year. My prediction... a game of the year edition will be coming out real soon! However, do yourself a favor and try to avoid the Xbox 360 version; it was riddled with frame-rate chugs. The PS3 version will treat you the best, especially because it comes packaged with DLC that you would have to otherwise buy. PC fans... if you can tolerate some pesky “online activation” DRM, you will enjoy the best looking graphics of the three.