The Mafia II demo was released today, and I’ve finally been able to play it outside the confines of a 2k demo booth. I had previously played this exact demo at E3 and Comic Con, but now I finally had the chance to load it up on my personal gaming rig. It was time to see just how much effort 2k had put into making Mafia II, “that much better” for PC gamers.
As I fire up the demo and head immediately into the options menu (as all PC nerdbois surely do) I notice there’s a benchmarking utility!! “What joy!” I think to myself. It’s been quite some time since I was able to test my gaming rig against a new title. I knew Mafia 2 was making great use of Nvidia PhysX, but until now I had only played the game on consoles, and it had clearly not been done justice.
So, after maxing out the settings, saying a short prayer, and hitting the record button, I watched as the early 20th century gangster world of Mafia II came to life like never before on my screen … Enjoy.
As you can see, due to FRAPS, my framerate dropped significantly, but the gameplay was smooth enough to make a point. You can see just how much PhysX plays a part in the game. Debris flies everywhere, glass shatters, wood splinters, pillars crumble apart from shotgun blasts, bottles explode, the difference is like night and day. In fact, if you want to see just what a difference PhysX makes, check out this next video that is far superior to mine. :-)
Well, I believe that I’ve made my case for PhysX, but what about actual PC gameplay? How does the game actually look and feel on a high end PC? Well of course I decided to record that too, and let me just say that playing Mafia II on my own system has given me a whole new perspective on the game as well as on open world games in general. What you are about to see is the entire gameplay demo (SPOILER ALERT) which I have edited down to roughly nine minutes. If you notice me shooting at a few extra windows or walls, it is simply me being in awe of the graphical capabilities of the Illusion gaming engine.
Right off the bat you should take notice of the fact that everything going on outside Vito’s house is happening in real time. If he were to walk outside, nothing would change. The game world is seamless. The second thing you will notice (besides how good everything looks) is that this game is a period piece, and as such, everything from the music down to the pictures on the walls, matches the era of the game. (Gotta love the rotary phone)
The denizens of Empire Bay have the usual comical dialogue as they mill about, but you cannot simply take advantage of them as you would in other games. If you take out a gun in the street and people see you, the police will come for you. If you drive too fast, you will get pulled over. If you get in a street fight, the cops will stop you … and let you off with a warning. This all adds to the sense of immersion and realism in Mafia II. However, thanks to the nice little bribery system, all the police hassle is almost a non issue. At least you won’t find yourself constantly being shot at or thrown in jail by the police like in other games.
You will also notice as much debris flying about during combat (if not more so) than in my benchmarking video, and it never ceases to impress. The glorious destructability of the environment is something I have never before seen in a game like this. This is so much more than just a prettier Grand Theft Auto set in the early 20th century. This is not simply a console game ported to PC, this is a PC game worthy of the most hardcore gaming rigs.
Last but not least, there are still a couple of things you didn’t get to see which I quite enjoyed about the demo as well. First of all, the fist fighting is much better than in any other game like this, and also they’ve included a little feature I’ve always been looking for . . . GAS STATIONS!! Every grandtheftjustcausesaintsrowtruecrime game lets you drive around endlessly and you never ever have to stop for gas!! Well in Mafia II, not only are there gas stations, but full service gas stations where an attendant will come out and fill ‘er up for ya! It’s the little things like this (and getting your shoes shined for $1) that let gamers know 2k spent an inordinate amount of time making Mafia II one hell of a game.
Please enjoy a slew of short videos I made showing off some of the finer things that make Mafia II so much more than your average game.
I used to think that consoles were the best way for anyone to play a game like Grand Theft Auto, Just Cause, Saints Row, True Crime or Mafia. But now that I see the complete difference that having a truly higher quality gaming experience can bring to the table, I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to playing games like these on a console again.
However, not every developer takes the time to ensure that the PC version of their game will be this superior to it’s console counterparts, so I have to hand it to 2k games once again for making me proud to be a PC gamer.
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