Game: Mafia 2: Joe's Adventures DLC
Reviewed: January 2015
When I originally played Mafia 2 many moons ago, I found it to be a game rich in story, and with an excellent cover-shooter game mechanic that made attacking enemies from behind cover a fluid and effective process. For various reasons, I never got around to reviewing the full game, but if I had, I would have probably scored it highly, despite the lack of anything much that I’d call a side-quest. Sure, you could drive around the fictional city of Empire Bay to your hearts content, which is kind of fun in itself because of listening to the great tunes of the 40’s and 50’s on the radio, but other than stealing cars, robbing the odd store, and crushing cars to earn money, there wasn’t a great deal to keep you occupied away from the main story. That’s not a bad thing in this case, since the story, about a man called Vito Scaletta rising through the ranks of the Mafia in America, along with his likeable friend Joe, was enchanting, despite all the violence associated with being in the mafia.
The DLC reviewed today is called Joe’s Adventures and picks up from the point in the main game where [SPOILER!] Vito gets arrested and sent to prison. Throughout the DLC, you’ll be playing as Joe, and doing the things that he got up to while Vito was locked away [/END SPOILER!] Okay, that was a rubbish spoiler tag, but to be honest, if you’re getting the DLC, you will have played the main game anyway.
The DLC starts, and finishes, with fully 3D cut-scenes and story, and is capped off by a suitably bloody final fire-fight, which fits the mafia theme of things. In the middle though, which is the vast majority of the game, you’ll simply be able to go to various quest markers on the map, and then begin some inane task that is only introduced via a single screen of text, and an overused background picture. Most of the tasks involve driving, which is fine in a sense, since I loved driving around in Mafia 2, but it also starts to get a bit tedious by the end of this DLC.
Every mission you do is against a timer, and at the end, you get ranked amongst other Steam users according to how fast you did the mission, as well as scoring bonus points for headshots, drifting your car, and going above 75mph for a while, amongst other things. While there is some variation, like having to chase someone down on foot, stealthily following someone, or getting into a punch-up with a group of ‘greasers’, most of the time things will follow a similar formula, with you having to drive to a location, take a car, at some stage the police will probably get involved, then you have to out-drive them, then make it back to a preset point where you drop the vehicle off.
Sometimes, this could be highly frustrating, with some tasks having a gang shooting at you while you try and drive away in some woefully under-powered truck. You then have to get out quick, get to cover, and start a fire-fight, since there is no chance of out-driving them when you can only go at a snails pace. This then is bound to attract the local police, so then you have to start getting away from them too. Often, trying to figure out how to play the mission involves a lot of trial and error, and in some cases I had to retry a mission well over a dozen times, while others I would do first time. Another such mission was one requiring stealth while following someone, and this was all going quite smoothly until I got to the area I had to, and got attacked by another gang, this then meant I got killed, and due to the sometimes terrible save-game points, I had to restart the whole mission, which up to that point had taken what felt like several minutes of my time. There-in lies a big problem with the DLC – the game just doesn’t save often enough, and most of the time you’ll have to do an entire mission in one go. For the most part this was fine, but on the occasions where you are given a bit more of a challenge, you may find yourself redoing the same stretch of game in its near entirety, multiple times. This means a lot of frustration and anger, and I was only playing it on easy; I can only imagine how much tougher it might be on medium, and hard levels.
Graphically the game is identical to the main game, since it borrows virtually everything from it anyway, and sound wise, the DLC benefits from the same great music of the main game, and the decent voice-acting; it’s just a shame that, with the lack of overall story, there isn’t much said that is interesting. Looking at length, the DLC took me over 9 hours to complete, but when I checked the in-game statistics, it said 7 hours, which kind of makes sense, since 2 hours would have been spent re-doing the same tasks over and over. I did have an issue getting the game to run, but this was fixed after a while when I realised that I had the Xfire application open, and it was causing the crashes since it uses a graphical overlay that must be interfering with the game (it used to work, so I never suspected it initially). So that’s not really the games fault, but worth a ‘heads-up’ in case you are having a similar problem.
I’ll keep this review short and sweet, since the review concerns DLC and not a full game, even though, despite all the re-doing of missions, the game would still have lasted well over 7 hours anyway. That’s a pretty good length for DLC, and places it at twice the length of an average Call of Duty game. I also got the DLC during a Steam sale for a measly £1.57, which is about 40 times less than Call of Duty too.
Getting back to the game content, I wish that it had all been included as part of the main game, since it basically just felt like one big collection of random side-quests; fine when you may want a break away from the main story of the game, but not to repeatedly do for several hours. Had they have included the content in such a way that it was merged with the main game, rather than a separate section, it would have fixed one of the flaws of the main game, since it had very little to do outside of the main story, but for some bizarre reason, possibly to appease those who bought the DLC after the game, and probably couldn’t be bothered replaying it, they made it all separate. Hopefully, if they make a full-blown sequel in the future (it is well over-due now), they will fix these flaws.
Anyway, summarising, if you can get the DLC cheap, like I did, and you really, really loved the main game (I did, I admit, as I have re-played it three times at this point), then I would definitely get this particular DLC, as it does help extend your time in Empire Bay. However, I will also add that it is not essential, and if you merely just liked the game, then you probably won’t get much from this DLC.
I shall give the DLC the following arbitrary final score:
If you like this game, you might also like: Sleeping Dogs, The first Mafia game, seeing horses heads on your pillow.
Is Joe just an average Joe? Is this DLC just average DLC? Let us know in the forum!