Characters are just as essential as stories and they go hand in hand. Characters are what define video game series, and really make gamers separate from each other, and can decide how much a game sells. Developers really strive to make memorable characters, and most of the time it’s a huge factor in sales.
It’s not just Bayonetta’s sex appeal that makes her Messiah’s top pick of the year, but a sexy character in a game that’s actually good? With a good story? Great gameplay? And the best thing since Devil May Cry! It’s a miracle! Bayonetta also has some serious attitude and shows it is not just a trashy trampy way, but with a style that makes you drool with a sexy coolness that would make glaciers melt in sub-zero temperatures. She’s is sassy, smart, sexy, and just overall out for the greater good as well. Her soft side for little girls and her great sense of humor helps her along as well.
Stories are probably the most important part of a game, and a good story tends to be original, full of plot twists, good characters, and great dialog to go with it. Video games have set the standard for fantasy stories and are probably video gaming’s greatest achievement.
Alan Wake has a story like no other with a rich, deep, and complex (yet easy to follow) story that is ripped straight out of the best horror novels. The way Alan Wake unfolds, and the story is told with plot twists, and loops that keep on coming you just keep on playing just to find out what happens with Alan! This is exactly how a game story should roll out, and other games have big shoes to fill.
Red Dead may not have strange alien characters, but the voice acting is so authentic that you really get attached to these characters without awkward moments, or sometimes scripted sounded segments. The voice actors Rockstar chose really sound like these characters and put so much passion and effort into them that the whole game really just sounds like a movie.
The original Mafia may not have been the best shooter in the world, but it gave us a great narrative and likable characters, and Mafia II tops this. You play as Vito Scaletta whose parents migrated from Italy to New York, and you follow him through his ups and downs in the Mafia. The game’s narrative is amazing with lots of plot twists and excellent character development. The game isn’t just mind-numbing shooting, but it’s delicately spread out with menial tasks and interactive narrative bits that really keep you hooked.
For example, you start out during WWII in Italy helping the rebels. This is completely unexpected and is a nice touch to delivering the background of Vito. Another bit I can not explain (due to huge spoilers), but let’s say you do some gross tasks and some hand-to-hand combat in a place you don’t want to ever end up. You will actually go 3-4 chapters with no shooting at all, and this makes you savor the shooting bits because they get thrown in a lot in the last few chapters.
The shooting has tight cover mechanics and the 50’s era weapons pack a punch and really feel powerful. Knowing a guy out with a shotgun or even popping a guy in the head with a .44 Magnum and it just feels right. I never experienced issues during firefights with controls, and this is great so the shooting part is pretty much perfect.
Of course, you have a huge open world, but I guess the biggest flaw to the game is that it’s only used as a “portal” to mission objectives. You don’t go around and get missions from people a la Grand Theft Auto, but maybe this is a good thing and keeps you sticking with the story. Each chapter has you waking up in your apartment and you have to complete missions as told, and they are varied and never get old. Driving around town feels right and the cars handle really well. There’s a large variety of them and driving down the road listening to 50’s era tunes just feel so authentic. If you aren’t careful and follow the speed limit (there’s a speed limiter button) cops will try to pull you over. If you want you to have to either change your plates or your clothes.
You can pull into body shops and change the color of your car, repair them, change rims, tune them up, and store them in your garage or just go sell them at the junkyard. You can buy threads, guns, food and it really feels authentic and doesn’t pull too far away from the main game. One thing that you can collect that will completely surprise people are Playboy centerfolds. Yes, fully nude centerfolds, and while finding them may be a pain since they are well hidden, it’s well worth it. These are 50’s Playboys and they are interesting finds, and you can also collect artwork, and read about cars in the Carcyclopedia.
The game looks really good with well-animated characters, excellent lighting, and highly detailed textures, but up close some of the characters look a little lacking in the texture quality department. The game sounds great too, and it’s just all the little details that make the game that much more authentic for its time setting. People arguing in the streets, cops pulling other people over, it’s just really great to see all this detail. However, the 2K Czech could do a lot more with Mafia III, and I’d like to see side missions, a bigger world, and more little extras.
Overall Mafia II is an excellent game with wonderful characters that you truly care about, the voice acting is top-notch and everything just feels almost perfect. The game needs more extras and a little something to stray away from the main game, but what’s here works and is solid with excellent shooting mechanics, driving mechanics, controls, and just enough content to keep you going. There isn’t really any incentive to play through this again at all unless you really need those Playboy centerfolds.
Collector’s Edition: If you want to shell out the extra $20 you get a nice poster of ads in the game, the soundtrack, a steel case, the Made Man DLC pack, and a color art book. Is it worth $20? Probably not for most, but hardcore collectors will like this a lot. Most people should just pass, but what is provided is worth it.