Mafia II shaping up nicely

Tired of running drugs, guns, and drag racing in the 21st century? Mafia 2 might be just what you’re looking for; developed by 2K Czech, Mafia 2 looks to capitalize on the open-world genre, which is oh-so-popular these days. 2K Czech knows its competition, as do we all; Grand Theft Auto this is not. Most cars don’t really haul, and your armament would be more suitable for Al Capone, than Niko Bellic. Mafia 2 welcomes you back to 1940’s-era Lost Heaven, a fictitious rendering of Manhattan. Info on Mafia 2 is steadily surfacing, and it looks to be an exciting—and accurate—period piece actioner. 2K Czech wants gamers to relive their favorite Godfather-esque moment, creating their own mobster epic.

Voice acting and slick presentation put Mafia 2 in the same class as Rockstar’s big hitter. Expect cinematic camera wipes and a thoroughly immersive world. Given GTA4’s recent watershed execution, Mafia 2 aims to deliver character, class, and minutia that make open-world games so damn riveting. Comparisons to GTA are to be expected, especially with regard to gameplay. Mafia 2 straddles the arcade/sim style of play that will maximize the game’s playability.

Even though WWII-era weapons don’t pack quite the punch as a modern day M16, 2K Czech is making each gun a blast to play with. A tommy gun can make short work or a room full of thugs, but you’ll likely attract unnecessary heat. Gunplay adds a standard cover system and semi-destructible environments that will, no doubt, lead to memorable shoot outs with ‘da coppers.

Cars are also being given a unique “Hollywood”-style deformation system: expect sparks and mufflers to clang off cement as you rip through city traffic. Multiplayer is still mum, but not entirely unthinkable. Mafia 2 is focusing more on telling an intriguing story, than going for all the bells and whistles of open world design. I don’t think you’ll be doing missions as a cabbie, but rather achieving the elite status of being a “Made” man. The writers of the original Mafia are also working on the sequel, which is good news for fans of a mafioso thrillers.

Mafia 2 is coming to PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 possibly by this Christmas, but given the limited play time most have had with the title, a 2009 release wouldn’t be out of the question.

[See also: Mafia 2 gallery]