Friday, September 10


In all honesty, I cannot see what the fuss is about. So Mafia II doesn't feature hours worth of peripheral activities that most players disregard anyway, why does the gaming press at large care? One of the main  criticisms levelled against 2K Czech's mobster-themed, sandbox adventure game is that Empire Bay doesn't feature any sidequests with which players can engage. After having played my fair share of games in this genre though, I believe Mafia II has made a stronger impression on me because of its strong focus on narrative as opposed to padding. With the possible exception of Red Dead Redemption, I very rarely find myself wandering off the beaten narrative track in sandbox games. I can attribute this to a couple of factors:
  • Peripheral activities in sandbox action games are often derived from missions that I find frustrating. Example: Racing in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. The floaty car physics and my aggressive (read: inept) driving style lead me to make a few errors too many in what are usually, fiercely competitive and dirty contests. 
  • Peripheral activities in sandbox action games often focus on morally objectionable activities which may come into conflict with the beliefs and actions of a game's protagonist, or that are just plain repugnant. Example: Snatch and Escort missions in Saint's Row. Please keep in mind the following video is NSFW and contains violence, strong language and sexual references.

Now let's assume you reject my arguments against open-world sidequesting, any new copy of Mafia II on the PS3 comes with the free downloadable content pack: The Betrayal of Jimmy. I played through this pack yesterday and can advise that it is about 6 hours worth of pointless murder and theft with the barest of plots tying all the action together. On its own it's not much, and definitely not worth the $12.95 2K are charging gamers who buy a second-hand copy. Combined with the retail product however, The Betrayal of Jimmy adds the secondary activities that gaming critics appear to sorely need.

For anyone who is on the fence, grab the game new and enjoy the best of both worlds. The main story arc is so compelling that Carly had banned me from playing it until she completed an assignment (thankfully, it was submitted today). The Betrayal of Jimmy did enough to keep me loving Empire Bay, the soundtrack, the difficult combat sequences and the city's moronic police force.

In other news, I've recently ordered Yakuza 3, Halo: Reach and Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days. Yakuza 3 arrived this afternoon, so I'm looking forward to seeing how organised crime works in the East. Otherwise, next week I will get to enjoy (probably) the most anticipated release on Microsoft's console and a shooter with a distinct visual style. Good times!

What are you all playing this weekend?


  1. I got Reach too! I am keen to jump online with a jetpack and pretend to be Jango "motherjumpin'" Fett!

    Side note: Dead rising 2 case zero = fun times, well worth 400 points.

    Mass Effect 2 latest DLC Lair of the Shadow broker to my joy is not the final DLC, bioware has actually opened up several more DLC opportunities for ME2 to continue. They have also advised more is on the way.

    I will be jumping on the Move bandwagon this thursday I thinks, any thoughts on Move??

  2. Good to hear Mass Effect 2 still has mileage.

    I won't be jumping on Move until later in the year. At the very least, I won't adopt the new technology until the release of Time Crisis: Razing Storm. Nothing brings me more joy than lightgun games with silly names.

    The launch titles for Move all look fairly uninspiring. Kung-fu Rider and Start the Party should have been downloadable titles for my money.

  3. I am not getting on the Move bandwagon, I see no need. i already have a Wii, and it is a novelty console for me.

    On Mafia II, I won't buy it. I bought Red Dead and I regret it, because I am very over sandbox games now. I can't handle them at all. I have seen and done everything in them.

    I might get JC2, but only to base jump. It would be sweet if the re-released San Andreas! That had everything!