It’s a nice afternoon. The sky is blue and clear of clouds, the radio is rocking a head-bopping tune of ol’, and Empire Bay is doing its post-WWII thing. Vito Scalleta and his best friend Joey Barbaro are out for a relaxing drive through the suburbs. Well, relaxing for them. In truth, they are heading to a house, and when they get there, they find a man outside watering his grass with a hose, looking all non-threatening. As quiet as can be, the two of them sneak up behind the man, toss out a cliche saying like, “Blah-blah-blah sends his regards!” and then shoot the life out of him.
The dynamic duo speeds away from the pursuing cops, and as they do, Vito runs a red light–at 70 or 80 mph, mind you. Joe, in all seriousness, berates him for this: “Did you not see that light was red?”
Sadly, Vito doesn’t come back with, “Did you not see we just obliterated a man’s body with bullets and now need to get away so we don’t get locked up or shot to death ourselves by the blue meanies and don’t really have time to obey traffic laws?” Instead, Joe’s line hung in the air, awkward and out-of-place, a piece of dialogue added to the game to instill realism, but working completely against that when context is not considered.
Also, this is going to be my last post about Mafia II. I swears it.
Open-world games thrive on minutiae. From idle chatter to signs in store windows to people carrying umbrellas when it starts to rain, it’s the little things that make the big thing whole. This is probably unfair, but I’m going to compare Mafia II to L.A. Noire, mostly because I view the games as quite similar, but far from each other’s levels. For most of the time, you go on missions with a partner in Mafia II, meaning you always have someone to talk to in the car. Conversely, someone’s always there to comment about your lackluster driving skills. This was the same way things went down in L.A. Noire, but when Cole Phelps would get yelled at for running a red light or hitting another car, it was never because it was Cole being an idiot. It had to do with reminding us that Cole was a man of the law and should set good standards for those watching from the sidewalks; it was there to remind us that we were occasionally driving someone else’s car, and he didn’t like to see it get dinged and danged up. It made sense there and then.
In Mafia II, you are a horrible human being. You kill for money, and that is all you see before your Italian face each and every new day you wake up. And so it just sounds bizarre to hear fellow murderers getting all up at arms over misconduct on the road. Especially during missions where you are trying to chase down another car. Of course you are going to run red lights then. That’s how you chase something, Joe. You can’t do both, commit murder and be a safe driver. This was just one of the more jarring moments in the game, coupled with the fact that the law will shoot first and ask questions later. Imagine a world where if you ran a red light you were popped in the face at close range by a trio of officers. Seems understandable, right?
Okay, that’s it for Mafia II. I’m out.