Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mafia II

If you're wondering whether I'm looking forward to Mafia II, you should probably read this:
Norton’s Ice Cream is on the southwest corner of the central plaza in Chinatown. I’m standing in the central plaza as I write this, taking notes as I walk around this unique and colorful district in the city of Lost Heaven. I mention Norton’s because there is a fender bender just outside their front door, and the ensuing traffic jam and honking horns are reminders that no place stays peaceful for long. I think I’ll take a walk.

It’s bright and a little crisp today, too cold for shirtsleeves, but not too cold for open windows to dot the buildings that surround the plaza. Fresh duck hangs in the grocery store windows and I breathe in the exotic smells as I pass by. I see a sign for Bad Guy Pale Dry ale, and it’s awfully tempting at only five cents a glass, but somebody has to drive my orange Thor ragtop home, and since I’m running a little short on friends lately, I guess I should stay pale and dry myself. I can always drop by Salieri’s bar later when I get back to Little Italy.

That was my lead for a story about the original Mafia, released in 2002. Mafia created a sense of time and place that has never been equaled. It was a landmark game, even though it wasn't treated that way at the time. History often corrects the unfortunate passions of the moment, though, and as the years have passed, Mafia's stature has continued to grow, as it should.

For years, I've hoped for a sequel, but sequels are problematic. For instance, the writing in the original Mafia was the finest I've ever seen a game. It was uniformly gripping.

That dialogue was written by Daniel Vávra, who also directed the game. Would he be included in a sequel?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. He both wrote the game and provided the basic design, although he was not the director.

That alone gives me hope that the sequel is worthy. And we'll find out soon enough, because it's getting released on August 24.

The demo was released a few days ago, and it's very strong. It's available on Steam, and if you pre-purchase, you get the original game as well.

If you visit the central plaza, stop by for some ice cream.

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