Mafia 2 | Sports Champions

Video Game Reviews for October 15th

Mafia 2

Some might say that the story in Mafia 2 is full of clichés, borrowed from the greats like The Godfather and Goodfellas, and to a certain extent they’d be right. However the narrative is woven in such a careful way that not only does it feel fresh, but when you notice the clichés they’re more of a gentle nod rather than a horse’s head in your bed.
 
In a classic rise and fall tale of two Mafioso’s, Mafia 2 pulls no punches. You’ll be working your way up from the bottom and dealing with all of the Mafia families in Empire Bay. The fantastic narrative is moved along excellent voice acting, and the rapport between our main characters Vito Scaletta and Joe Barbaro is brilliant. From quips about Joe’s sometimes less than stellar mental agility to Vito’s reluctance to abide by the Highway Code, the duo are your typical rogues. There’s a good variety of missions to play and whilst you’ll play the standard “follow that car” or “take out those henchmen” missions none of the archetypes overstay their welcome. You’ll get just the right amount of everything, some are absurd (in a good way,) and some could be described as slightly tear jerking.


It’s clear that 2K Czech have been working on a labour of love as the attention to detail and realism is staggering. It’s also clear that they want you to get sucked in as much as they were, and you will be. Whilst you can steal any car, you’ll find that you’ll have your favourites – which you’ll want to look after. You can tune these cars to make them faster, buy new rims or give them a new paintjob. You’ll even have them long enough to need to go and buy petrol; I assure you that running on empty as you escape from a rival Mafia family is not good.
 
Speaking of realism, Vito can’t really take much damage so you’ll need to move between cover smartly, as one shot to the head or a few to the chest will bring you down. The police in Empire Bay are also pretty hot, if you speed, do a hit and run or generally get too “friendly” with the civilians they’ll come down on you hard. This ranges from a speeding ticket, to squads of Policemen with Tommy Guns hunting you down. You’ll even need to change the plates on your car and change your clothes in some situations just to get away.
 
Empire Bay looks beautiful at all hours of the day and it feels like it’s really lived in. For a start, all of the cars have been carefully recreated, they all handle differently and sound positively wonderful – from the squeak of the suspension to the noise the spongy tires make as they mount a curb. The music is also quite wonderful playing artists such as Dean Martin, Buddy Holly and Doris Day. As you would imagine the weapons are authentic too and extremely satisfying to use. It never gets old hosing down a car with a Tommy Gun.
 
Whilst some people will make comparisons to Grand Theft Auto, Mafia 2 is more refined, think of it as less of an open world game and more third person action; there’s not really any side missions here so you won’t be driving taxi’s or doing street racing. Instead Mafia 2 will lead you down a carefully scripted path, but that’s not a bad thing by any means as the story is so good. So before I call in the boys, give Mafia 2 a try, capiche?

***

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Sports Champions


You´ve had the party game and so wouldn´t you expect the sports one.  Sports Champions does for the Move what Wii Fit did for the Wii; shows off their various controllers to some of the best of the early developments ability. This time round it´s the Playstation Move on show and through individual and group play it really shines in this game.

In fact the Move controller gives such great fine control it really is a joy to use allowing a far more precise control than is seen with the Wii, because of the combination of camera and motion controller giving “depth” to the game.

Let´s take a step back though and discuss what´s available.  Sports Champions has the more ordinary sports of Table Tennis, Archery and Beach Volleyball and the slightly more unusual Gladiator Duel, Bocce and Disc Golf.  All six of these sports has both single and multiplayer modes as well as the usual trophies and unlockables, including costumes, specialist equipment, new characters and more advanced game play modes.

It´s all very nicely laid out and animated as well with a friendly, simple to use menu system, a good selection of hints, and a hefty selection of training to help you appreciate every move and nuance of the Move controller. 

This is where the game shines the Move controller really making you feel at the heart of the action, once it has been calibrated correctly.  Here you can manipulate the launch angles, add spin, weight throws and develop your skills. All the games are well handled here with easier less taxing modes and much greater difficulty. Perhaps the only place the controls are a little weaker is in the Gladiator Duel (but only possibly because no-one has properly replicated sword combat, on any system to date, and this reviewer has been trained in sword).

The Move also adds to the total realism of the games as well and let it be said that those who aren´t the best at the Frisbee in real life will probably have equal issues with it in Disc Golf, as you try and balance angle against turn, speed and prevailing wind.  Still follow the training and not only will your characters play improve but it´s likely that your real world Frisbee skills will increase too. 

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Table Tennis gives you a real feeling of identity with the bat and control of the ball as it hits it allowing for realistic top spin, back hands and more. If that game is a little too intense for all the potential players in the room how about a few rounds of Archery or the even more sedate Bocce to get them entertained.

This is Sporting Champions other forte, managing to balance the games on offer so well to provide an entertaining package for the whole family and if this is just an early development for the Move controller, which it is, then there really is so much more to come. Zindagi Games really should be commended and watched for future Move releases.

Sporting Champions represents an early high point in the Move´s already growing catalogue and there is very little not to recommend it to everyone as an essential purchase for all owners of Sony´s new motion controller.   


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