That Mafia II so effectively harpoons its illusion of real life, showing its characters to be machines acting out prescribed paths, is to its detriment. But the fact that I bought into it in the first place is the game's greatest strength. It's not that Vito is a sympathetic character. Returning from a war he held no moral stake in – after a botched robbery, it was that or prison – he joins the local mafia, even though his mum told him not to. Naughty. From there on, he relies upon menace through the typical mafioso triple-threat: punching, shooting, and scary staring. Best buddy Joe occasionally dips a toe into 'comic relief' territory, but then ducks back into 'just a bit nasty' land, gets his pistol and shoots everyone in comic relief territory. Those poor clowns. The player's supporting cast eschews any chance to get really creative, instead furnishing the game with another layer of dark-suited, dark-haired professionals, hitmen and higher-ups that blur into one mass. Driven by his need for money and respect, Vito is encased in a series of ever-widening shells, each step up the mafia ladder (a ladder made of guns) giving a new set of faces to watch in cutscenes: but they're all congealed clichés, culled from a hundred Bronx Tales and Godfathers. The dialogue is wellwritten and excellently acted, but it feels mechanical, the spoutings of a supercomputer sat in a shady office with its dials set to 'lightly-accented macho threat.' but this buy best one of the all time greatest games I ever played I love it!!!
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