I understand the concept of money as a motivator. It’s what fuels a majority of life, from food to gas to bills to pleasure. You can buy everything but love with it, if songs are to be trusted. But for me, within the context of videogames, it’s not enough to warrant doing horrible, atrocious acts of violence. I mean, it’s not like real money is being printed out of the Xbox 360’s disc tray; this is digital money to purchase digital things, and while I don’t mind doing miscellaneous tasks like writing fake blog posts or trimming Tara‘s bush in The Sims Social for some Simoleons, stealing cars and murdering those in wrong place at the wrong time for, um, $300 is not what I’d call justifiable. Unfortunately, all Mafia II has as a motivator is money.
Vito Scalleta is a war hero–that’s according to his childhood friend Joe, a crook and crooked man that eventually gets our young leading lad mixed up with the mafia. It starts out innocently enough, with Vito returning from World War II to snow and Christmas songs and the bad news that his sister and mother are still trying to pay off his father’s debt. Vito immediately wants to help, which shows off his good quality, but he’s willing to simply murder men trying to stop him from carjacking their ride, which shows off his videogamey quality.
I’ve only completed chapters one, two, and three so far, having started chapter four at this point. Vito is now tasked with sneaking into an office building and stealing gas stamps, and he’ll be rewarded better if he goes undetected. My kind of mission actually despite all my latest stealth failings with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. However, those first two chapters did not leave me excited about how Vito will grow as a character; basically, at this point, I’m writing him off as yet another Niko; oh hey, look at that, their names are similar too.
In chapter three, after meeting with the man that Vito’s father owes a ton of money, Vito was given the job to move some crates on to the back of a truck. For $10, which, I dunno, in the late 1940s, could probably get you a lot of thingies. Bread, milk, a porno mag. You go up to the crates, press X to pick one up, walk it over to the truck, press X to put it down, and repeat the process all over again. Mundane, but that’s how a lot of grunt work is, and while there were probably something like 4o to 50 crates, I was willing to carry them all back and forth because a job is a job, and I’ve always done whatever job I’ve been given. Vito, however, was not having it, complaining with each crate until he simply refused to carry any more; I was given the false decision to leave when he’d had enough, and with nothing else to do, I had to play into the role of Vito, who was not interested in doing what he dubbed “slave labor” for a measly $10. For shame, man. However, beating the crap out of warehouse employees not willing to chip in for a mandatory haircut collection is more wholesome work, mostly because it pays better. Sigh…
Fantastic tunes on the radio though. More games need this much Dean Martin love. And there’s a great attention to detail here, with the city looking very much alive, just like L.A. Noire. But at least that game had a likable main character, one with a soul, as flawed as it became. Here, with have Vito, who will do anything it takes to make money. Again, these sorts of people do exist, but they aren’t fun to roleplay as there is only one path to follow. Heed the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.”