Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Czech
ESRB rating: Mature
Release date: Available Now
Anyone who’s played through Mafia II’s main adventure knows what happens at the end. I won’t give the secret away, just in case there are any late adopters out there, but let me impart that it left me both agape and a little bit ticked off. Despite the rather blunt end, though, DLC for Mafia II has been pretty regular. PS3 owners got The Betrayal of Jimmy; its follow up, Jimmy’s Vendetta, was released only a couple months back. Let’s see how the latest installment, Joe’s Adventures, stacks up in the grand Mafioso scheme of things.
Joe is actually my favorite part of the story in Mafia II. He’s the dunder-headed, comic-relief sidekick, always getting Vito into trouble. He shoots first and asks questions later, and when Vito is tossed into the pokey part way through Mafia II, the first person he sees after he gets out is his ol’ buddy, Joe. His “adventures” answer the question of what the big guy was up to while Vito was taking his knocks in prison.
And while this seems perfect fodder for a story-heavy fill-in for Mafia II, those expecting the engrossing narrative of the seed game are, once again, going to be disappointed. Much like the Jimmy’s DLC, Joe’s Adventures is more arcadey. You’re graded for each mission, and the more speed, fishtailing and death you can cause on your way to the goal, the better your score at mission’s end. Granted, there’s actually more story here than before, because it uses an actual character from the game, but it’s still a shadow of Mafia II’s best parts.
All of the previous frustrations are here, too, it seems. You’re still driving across Hell’s half-acre to get to mission goals, which, I’ll admit, allows you to see more of the beautiful Empire Bay scenery. Yet the fact still remains that, if you screw up, you’re going for that ride again…and again. The same cheap deaths, are here, too, although I will add that, being an unapologetic adolescent at heart, the constant stream of curse words emanating from Joe’s mouth makes getting shot entertaining, at least. Then there are things I hadn’t noticed before, like a time limit imposed on every single mission. Nothing like a leisurely drive across town to—oops, time’s up. Do it again. Also included are some uneven framerates, which surprises me, and a freeze-up or two, which outright annoys me. Mustn’t forget those.
I can’t rag on Joe’s completely, though, because the same great driving mechanics, candy-like graphics and amazing soundtrack are still here. And the keystone missions (the ones with cutscenes instead of single-frame illustrations) are a lot of fun to play. A little more than halfway through the game, there’s a shootout in a grocery store, and debris and police are flying everywhere. It’s intense, albeit bittersweet, because it’s an amazing example of what should’ve been happening throughout the entire game.
Yeah, I’m still sour that 2K’s DLC for Mafia II has been the equivalent of turning The Godfather movies into a sitcom. I was really hoping for the “full effect” in Joe’s Adventures, but it just isn’t there. I hate to have to repeat a warning, but if you played Mafia II and the story was your favorite part, you might want to leave this one alone. Sorry, Joe.