There's certainly a hefty marketing push behind this post-WWII mob tale, with game advertising migrating from web-based banner ads and videos to subway billboards, roadside posters, and TV spots. The original Mafia on PC gives this sequel a lot to live up to, particularly as the Grand Theft Auto series has been so busy re-shaping go-anywhere video game thuggery in the meantime - so is Mafia II any good?
2K Games' Czech Republic studio will be relieved to see a cluster of high marks awarded upon review, sprinkled with compliments for its detailed recreation of American city life in the 1940s and '50s, complete with authentic licensed soundtrack.
The most divisive aspect appears to be Mafia II's approach to the open-world genre. Whereas in Grand Theft Auto IV, Saints Row 2, Just Cause 2 and Red Dead Redemption there are a huge variety of missions and activities to pick from, Mafia II is far more directive.
Fitting as that may be, given the accompanying focus on organized rather than disorganized crime, those who scored the game highly enjoyed its more controlled approach, while those reviewers scoring it lower found the very same to be a source of frustration.
Somewhat unusually, a few critics stated a preference for the PlayStation 3 version, and not because it looks better than the Xbox 360 or PC variants - far from it - but because of an extra mission pack that takes a more explorative approach to Empire City.
Mafia II Review Round-up
Game Informer, 9/10 "A gripping drama about family, friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and pragmatism."
GameSpot, 85% "The tremendous story, fantastic action, and lovely city make for an exciting mob drama."
IGN, 7/10 "Because there's only the task at hand in Empire Bay, the place feels awkwardly empty."
Joystiq, 3.5/5 "Mafia 2 is, to put it mildly, a tightly controlled experience."
Destructoid, 6.5/10 (360) 7.5/10 (PS3) "Boring missions and lack of content will leave most gamers wanting more."
Giant Bomb, 3/5 "The plot would be strong enough to support Mafia II if it were a better action game."
Eurogamer, 4/10 "Slanders the many 14-year-olds who would see through this game's desperation to appear adult."