SET 10 years after the events of the first game, Mafia II follows the adventures of an all-new cast of wiseguys.

SET 10 years after the events of the first game, Mafia II follows the adventures of an all-new cast of wiseguys.

While the original was set in the 1930s, when the mob was at its most powerful, the new game starts during World War II and continues into the late 1940s and 1950s.

You take on the role of Vito Scaletta, an Italian immigrant involved in petty crime who gets drafted into the American army. A posting to Sicily gives him the opportunity to see how the Cosa Nostra operates first hand, as well as providing the player with a brief tutorial on how to shoot, use cover and throw a grenade. After copping a bullet, Vito is discharged from the army and returns home to Empire Bay to resume a life of crime.

It’s not long before our wannabe gangster is working his way up through the ranks of the Italian mob. Teaming up with his childhood friend, Joe, the pair get involved in all sorts of underworld activities, from selling bootleg cigarettes and stealing cars to gunning down rivals and disposing of bodies in the middle of the night.

The game is divided into 15 chapters, each one split into a number of linked missions, making for a playing time of 16plus hours. There’s no co-op or online multiplayer, but plenty of downloadable content is on the way.

As you’d expect from a third-person action game involving gangsters, you spend the majority of your time embroiled in cinematic gunfights, driving flash motors and making people offers they can’t refuse. The script borrows heavily from gangster flicks, but it still manages to weave an original tale.

The linear nature of the game can be annoying and the lack of any side missions gives the impression that you’re being shunted from one job to the next. On the plus side, missions are thoroughly absorbing, with plenty of gunplay and driving sequences. Couple this with an extraordinarily detailed city to explore, convincing voice actors, stunning visuals and a brilliant soundtrack – featuring Dean Martin and Buddy Holly amongst others – and you have a hit game on your hands.

Publisher: 2K Games

Price: �49.99

Format: PS3 (also Xbox 360, PC)

Age rating: 18+

Score: 4/5 stars