Mafia 2 – A Sandbox Game Without the Sandbox

Over the past week or two I’ve been playing the recently released game Mafia 2.

Mafia 2 has you playing as Vito Scaletta, a young Italian-American who’s trying to make it in Empire City (New York City) through the 40’s and 50’s. I won’t go into too much detail about the story but you can use your imagine as to where it goes.

The graphics are great, the voice acting is superb, the gun gameplay is smooth and features a good cover system that adds additional elements of strategy to everything and the story is good enough to stand on it’s own. There’s just two big issues:

The first issue is that the game is about half of what it “should” have been. There are multiple times throughout the storyline where instead of you actually playing through it, you’re presented with a montage of videos of Vito progressing along. I understand the point of cut scenes; however, when so much of the game that would be interesting and vital to the story are just flashed before your eyes, it can be pretty annoying.

Normally, I wouldn’t really take much care to that but after finishing the game (to an abrupt ending might I add) I did some searching to see what other people had been saying about it. It turns out that as the game was sent to the publisher, they ended up cutting out a bunch of the content so that they could release it as DLC. I think DLC can be a good thing for a game; however, removing something from the game that people pay for in order to make them buy it further down the road is just messed up. This includes cars, storyline, characters, guns, and even some basic functionality.

My second issue with the game is that Mafia 2 isn’t really a sandbox game. Throughout the entire story, you always have an objective for you to go to next. The moment you complete a mission, you automatically move on to the next chapter to start up the next mission. You could of course not go directly to your mission’s objective, but then you’d be presented with the option to do… nothing.

There’s nothing else to do in this game! You can “rob stores” or “steal cars” but that’s about it. Going around and causing general mayhem isn’t nearly as fulfilling as other sandbox games (like GTA4) and there aren’t any side quests or storylines for you to optionally do. For being such an open game, Mafia 2 is extremely linear.

With all of that said, I did enjoy playing Mafia 2. I felt the combat was fun, the story was interesting and had some interesting turns and the overall “fun” factor of the game was high. It’s just frustrating to have half of a game released, only to have the other half sold to you at a later time for more money. It’s also frustrating when you want to rove around in 50’s NYC causing mischief but you’re instead giving the options of playing the missions or playing the missions.