Smosh Games continues to roll out Honest Trailers for various video games. They've been pumping out a few in quick succession lately with the latest being 2K Games and 2K Czech's Mafia II, one of the most well revered games of seventh gen.
The Honest Trailer on Smosh Games is actually quite nice to the game. I was a little worried they would pan it for silly reasons, but they note how it takes a lot of its inspiration from Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and tons of inspiration from Martin Scorsese's collection of gangster-themed movies.
They mention how Mafia II managed to nab a Guinness World Record for the most F-bombs dropped in a video game script. Impressive.
The Honest Trailer does take a dig at the game's open-world design, stating that it's "sprawling" without much to do. In reality, though, there were some things to do. For the longest I didn't know that you could enter some shops. If you needed life or just wanted to explore, you could grab a bite at many of the diners sprinkled throughout Empire Bay to restore Vito's health.
There were also lots of clothing shops around where you could deck out Vito in some new duds. You could even walk around and experience the city where there were sometimes random events taking place that allowed you to interact with NPCs, get into fights get into shootouts or even rob places. And sadly, given that I was such a noob when playing Mafia II that for the longest I didn't know you could rob any shop, bar, restaurant, diner or gun store you went into. I really screwed myself in some segments because I didn't know it could be done.
Another neat thing was that you could walk up to some vendors scattered around town, buying stuff from them while they were out on the street. The game didn't directly tell you about these kind of things, you just had to kind of walk around and discover them for yourself. In that regard, I think Mafia II _ was one of the best open-world games for forcing players to just go around and try to discover things instead of being force-fed things to do or mini-games to partake in, like in _Saints Row 3 and Saints Row 4, where you were literally hand-held throughout the entire gameplay.
I did sort of wish there were a few more buildings to go into with more Mafia-themed activities, similar to the original The Godfather on the Xbox, PS2 and PC. But beggars can't be choosers.
Some people in the comment section took issue with the mention of Mafia II being a GTA-clone, and I can understand why they would say that. There's a huge difference in the way the games are played. GTA is an absurd, satirical action crime drama. The open world is about playing around in a sandbox full of ridiculous things to do, much like Saints Row, which took the concept and made it even more absurd. Mafia II was a linear story-based game. It was all about the narrative and characterization, literally shaping the world around the story (even going as far as to change seasons and time-lines to accompany events surrounding Vito).
So no, I wouldn't say Mafia II is a GTA clone, especially given how they try really hard to make sure you don't get on the bad side of the cops in Mafia and the fact that they discourage you from doing stupid stuff. The most comparable that GTA comes to Mafia II would be The Lost and Damned, which was definitely more linear and story-oriented than other GTA outings. Nevertheless, the Honest Trailer is definitely right in saying that if you wanted a really well-told, story-oriented gangster game you would likely want to pick up Mafia II. However, I'm still of the mind that the most fun open-world game of seventh gen was Saints Row 2.