Monday, April 20, 2009

Mafia II

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has an excellent Mafia II preview that includes detailed impressions and loads of data points. It's the best preview, by far, that I've seen for the game.

Of note: eight people work on the AI. Just the AI.
[insert digression here}
Yes, that's 7 1/2 more people than Tiburon had working on NCAA 2009's AI.
[end digression]

I'm trying very hard not to get too excited about this game, because the original Mafia was one of my favorite PC games ever, and it's expecting far too much to think that this game could be as good, or better. The quality of writing and voice acting in Mafia was off the charts, and the look of the city and the dynamic environment was spectacular.

One mission in Mafia stands out as one of the most brilliant I've ever seen. It was a mission where someone fled on foot, then took off in a car, and you had to run to your car and chase them.

Dead standard, right? Well, except for the fact that both cars were on an uphill slope. The city was very hilly in places, and the first thirty seconds of this car chase happened at about 15 MPH.

That's something Hitchcock would do.

It totally set the convention of the car chase on its ear, because the lack of pace was absolutely excruciating. It was also exponentially more dramatic, because my brain kept telling me that I close enough to catch up, and I would have been at normal speed, but it was almost impossible to accelerate on the steep slope.

It was wonderful, and I would have just dismissed it as accidental design if there hadn't been many other touches throughout the game that were nearly as sophisticated. There were, though, and the game had one of the most compelling stories I've ever played through, as well as one of the best endings (which I didn't like the first time, but the second time I saw it, I realized that it was both inevitable and perfect).

That's the standard, and if Mafia II can come even close, it will be outstanding.

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