A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The game tells the story of a man's violent rise to power within a crime family. It shows that violence and crime are a possible path to money, respect, and success. The ability to shoot at police and kill pedestrians -- while not rewarded -- is also possible in the game. Drinking and driving is allowed in the game. And players earn photographs of naked women as player rewards.
Positive Role Models
The main character, Vito, resorts to violence, intimidation, robbery, and murder to work his way up the crime ladder. He drinks and drives in the game. Also, the game could help feed into negative stereotypes about Italian Americans. Females are depicted as prostitutes, strippers, or nude models; any female characters are subservient to the men in the game.
Ease of Play
The game is fairly easy to pick up and play, though there may be a bit of a learning curve for those unfamiliar with this open-world genre. Aiming and shooting, driving, and navigating around this huge world, all work well (on the PlayStation 3 version we tested).
Violence & Scariness
As you'd expect from a game called Mafia II, there is plenty of violence and gore throughout this entire third-person adventure. Using a variety on guns and knives, players can shoot or stab enemies in a realistic fashion, which often causes blood to splash out (even onto the screen). Some graphic close-up killings are also shown in non-interactive cut-scenes (such as throat-slitting executions). Players can attack and kill civilians and police officers, though they're penalized for doing so.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There is a good deal of suggestive imagery in this game, including lingerie-wearing prostitutes at a brothel, exotic dancers in a men's club, and a scene that depicts oral sex on a man, with the camera behind the kneeling woman (while other men watch on). Throughout the game, players can collect hidden Playboy magazine pin-ups, which feature real photos of of bare breasts and buttocks; these collectible images can be viewed in a special gallery.
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Mafia II has very strong language in the game, including "f*ck," "sh*t," and according to the ESRB, the N-word is used as well.
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Products & Purchases
Aside from Playboy magazine, this game takes place in a fictitious world ("Empire Bay") with fictitious brands like "Swift Cola," "Big Break Tobacco" cigarettes and "Old Empirical" beer.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The game has many alcohol and drug references, including the ability to drink alcohol excessively -- to the point the player's perspective gets blurry. You can even attempt to drive your car in this state. There are also cut-scene sequences that show people smoking marijuana and snorting cocaine, and a cut-scene of people buying and selling drugs. The main character works as a drug runner at times, but is never seen doing drugs himself.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mafia II is most definitely not for kids, tweens, or teens. It is full of intense, realistic violence -- most of which is performed by you -- as well as immoral behavior, sex, drinking, drugs, and profanity. Characters you kill will spray blood, shout in agony, and fall to the ground in a realistic fashion. The game is centered on performing illegal tasks to make your way up in a criminal family -- this includes extortion, theft, dealing drugs, robbery, and murder. Plus, the foul language, sexual imagery (and a subservient portrayal of women), and drinking and driving all contributes to the apt "Mature" rating. Parents should also be aware that the game does feature real, photographic nudity -- the centerfolds are not just computer animation.
Is It Any Good?
Mafia II can be a very good game, but strictly for mature gamers who recognize this as interactive fiction. Older gamers who are looking for a gripping Grand Theft Auto-style mob story won’t be disappointed with this ambitious, gratifying, and stylized shooter. Mafia II is a big game: The fictitious Empire Bay (based on New York City and San Francisco) boasts 10 square miles of virtual landscape to explore, all rendered in high-definition. Mid-20th century architecture, cars, fashion, music, and advertising are all authentically reproduced. Equally as impressive is the lack of load times and nearly two hours of in-game cinematics (with characters that, while sometimes over the top, are well-acted). You can also go out on your own and walk or drive around this bustling city. Downloadable add-on missions extend the gameplay further. Despite its controversial subject, Mafia II is a thoughtfully-designed and well-"executed" adventure. Note: All three versions of the game are the same, except for downloadable mission packs.
Online interaction: There is no multiplayer component but gamers can download new episodes online, such as "The Betrayal of Jimmy," free add-on content for PS3 gamers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.