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Mafia II Review

     When I first got Mafia II into my grubby little hands I was skeptical that the game may not live up to my expectations. A skeptic no more! Mafia II took my expectations and expanded on them! However, a few flaws did hold Mafia II back from being a true classic for the masses.

The year is 1945 and you are Vito Scaletta, a young Sicilian who traveled to America with his family in search of the American dream. However, the city of Empire Bay wasn’t all that Vito thought it would be, having witnessed poverty first hand you want to make something of yourself, you want to be somebody, and you want it no matter what the cost. Vito has been placed in the army to fight against Mussolini’s regime in Italy, against his will. He was placed there for robbing a jewelry store with best friend Joe Barbaro and has returned to Empire Bay after being shot. You soon find out that Joe works for…some people…and he calls in a few favors to get you out of the service. Vito and Joe then begin their mission to go after the good life…and the experience is unforgettable.

"Giving porky his lunch..."

Mafia II’s story is superb with great writing and plot twists that seem to be straight from the big screen. The voice acting is top-notch, and Empire Bay is a beautiful place to be. Mafia II is a great place to get lost for a while and be a made man and the game allows you to fully immerse yourself into the shoes of Vito Scaletta. You will experience the all time highs of being in the mafia and you will hit rock bottom and wonder if it was all worth it.

2K Czech did their homework to make sure that Mafia II was an authentic Mafia experience. From the ritual of becoming a made man, to the secrecy of being part of a family. If you are a mafia buff, you will notice why certain things are said, why people act certain ways, and why things are done a certain way. It is a fictional history lesson…that is gory, fun, and will be remembered for a while.

"Empire Bay, I heard it is great this time of year!"

Mafia II controls like you would expect any third person experience to. Basic shooting, fighting, and driving mechanics make the game easy to pick up and while it does nothing new, it does what it is supposed to. You’ll find yourself in some pretty tense firefights, which can get frustrating at times if you are playing on the hardest difficulty. However the challenge isn’t really the games fault…Mafia II is hard and sometimes unforgiving but it is rewarding, especially when you start raking in the money and are driving around in convertibles in the best suits you can find in Empire Bay.

"You ain't getting my F***ing suit dirty, oh...you wanna play rough eh, I got 2 extra minutes...I'm meeting your mother at my place at 4:30!"

My biggest beef with Mafia II is the open world is kind of a tease. While you have this huge map to explore, you really can’t do anything. There are no side quests, and the people you meet throughout the game that you think you can revisit for side missions just tell you that they have no work right now. So honestly, why have them there in the first place. Mafia is very linear and forces you to go from chapter to chapter, you can even explore the game after you are done. While this may be a huge drawback for some, it doesn’t take away from the story and the immersion that Mafia II has to offer.

THE BREAKDOWN

Gameplay– 8/10

– Mafia II is solid and controls like you would expect it too.

Graphics– 8.5/10

– Empire bay is beautiful, the character models are fantastic and everything from cars to the muzzle flash of your Tommy Gun looks authentic. A few places in the game have recycled models, and texture pop ins. Nothing too bad, but it is still noticeable and if your picky like us…bothersome.

Sound– 10/10

– The cars, the guns, the voices, the soundtrack, the environment all sound fantastic. Simply superb work from 2K Czech.

Replayability– 5/10

– If you a completionist, you can go back a second time and try to get all the collectibles or try Hard difficulty. If you are not a completionist, Mafia II is a One Trick Pony.

Presentation– 8/10

– Slick and easy to access, great menus, and a great in-game interface.

THE JUDGES FINAL RULING

8.9/10

– Mafia is a one trick pony, the open world is there but doesn’t do much. However, a superb story, and superb acting and gameplay make up for the flaws. Mafia II is a fantastic game and has a great story to tell, and you will have a hell of a lot of fun watching it unfold.

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Brink Review

    When I first heard about Brink and the concept behind it I was doubtful while hopeful that this may be the fresh serving of originality that the over flooded generic multiplayer first person shooter scene needed. Brink has been hyped up over these past couple of months and while everyone was expecting it to be a monumental multiplayer class based experience, I can finally say that it isn’t. However, Brink is still a good fun team based game with a few problems taking away from the sought after Blockbuster hit that everyone was hoping for.
    Brink’s story isn’t a great one, but it does what it is supposed to. Simply put there is a place called the Ark which is the site of conflict between The Resistance and Security. The Resistance are fighting to leave and destroy the Ark while Security is trying to protect it. Brink features two campaigns one for the Resistance and one for Security which you can play through solo, in co-op, or versus. Both campaigns offer different perspectives on the story and after playing both you somewhat understand the point the game is trying to convey, but really don’t find any reason to care. With no characters to identify with and no plot line to actually care about there really is not point to Brink’s story or lack of for that matter. But story isn’t what Brink is about, it is about large-scale battles with a huge focus on team play which rewards players for being helpful and aiding their teammates with various objectives which will make the primary objective that much easier. This is where brink shines, while the game, dare I say it, sucks if played solo it ROCKS while played with other human players either in co-op or versus.
    Brink features an on the fly objective organizer where you can select which objective you would like to complete. For example, if the primary objective is to destroy the guard door, you can choose to go off and capture a health or supply control point, or go defend a shortcut or defuse a charge on said shortcut. By simply holding up on the D-pad you will see all the objectives that need to be completed by your team and how many members are doing them so if you feel too many people are doing one thing you can go do something else, just make sure you have a partner with you in case you encounter any enemy players, never be caught alone in Brink. The objectives in Brink are class specific and will require either a Soldier, Engineer, Operative, or Medic to complete. You can switch to any class at any time at a friendly controlled control point to complete the objective. This is a great system and requires teamwork for a functional fluid experience. Unlike other popular multiplayer games, Brink requires communication and coordination to have any hope of success and most of all it requires balance between classes. You will never find one team of all soldiers or one team of all engineers which keeps matches balanced and fun while allowing you to feel like a key part of the team. No matter what role you play, you are always relied on for something whether it be planting the charge on the door as a soldier, placing turrets in defense of an objective as an engineer, hacking a terminal as an operative or reviving a fallen teammate as a medic Brink always makes you feel like you are part of a team, not just a number on the scoreboard.

Hockey Mask? You get 5 cool points.

    One of the coolest parts of brink is the character customization and weapon customization which allows you to customize your character from everything to the color of your hockey mask (YES A HOCKEY MASK!) to the color of your hair. Brink makes sure that your character feels unique and the amount of customization available assures that you will never see another one of you running around the ark. The weapons customization is also very cool, while you can’t customize the color of your weapons you can pick different muzzles for different muzzle fire patterns on your gun, grips, launchers, silencers, various types of scopes, straps, different sized magazines from standard to round drums, and rapid fire settings for certain guns. All these options for your weapons allow you to customize your weapon to your play style allowing for anyone to pick up Brink and make it specifically catered to their needs. As you level up and complete challenges you unlock various weapons, outfits, and abilities. When you gain a level you achieve a level point which you can use to unlock various abilities for the 4 different classes or general ones. For example the medics resupply ability allows a medic to give some of his supplies to another player which will fill their supply meter so they can use their abilities. A general ability for example is the ability to see which direction someone is aiming at you from allowing for you to make a quick run for it and try to flank them. You are able to choose which abilities you feel will be useful to your play style and classes you like to use. However, if you make a wrong choice, don’t worry you can re-spec at the cost of one level.

"For the Ark!!!"

    On the technical side of Brink, it is pretty solid. The gun play is great, the movement is fluid and responsive, simply put everything you would expect from a good shooter. Brink also adds a new mechanic called SMART which allows for movement across various terrain it is basically a parkour button allowing you to climb up various objects run and jump from high places and move around the map like you have never seen or been able to do before. The ability of your movement is limited to your body type, which you can pick from the character customization menu and can be changed at any time. The heavy body type is limited to running and vaulting over waist level obstacles, the medium body type can climb and sprint, and the light body type can run, climb, wall jump, and overall get around faster. However, the smaller the body type, the less health you have so experimentation is needed to figure out what body best suits your style of play.
    Some of the problems I had with brink were the graphics and texture issues, while brink looks amazing during in-game cut scenes that use the in-game engine, during game play textures can pop in and out, character models aren’t as sharp as they could be, and colors can get muddy at times. Sometimes the maps can be misleading aswell, you may think you can climb up a certain area of the map or make that jump across the gap and it turns out you can’t which can be really frustrating while trying to get away from an enemy.

"Sure is a pretty tower boss..." "Yo foo, imma slap you! Blow that S*$% UP!"

    Despite Brinks issues it still manages to be a fun unique multiplayer experience that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you enjoy games like Team Fortress 2, or any other class based team shooter you will definitely find something to like in Brink. Overall Brink is a great package featuring lots of unlocks and customization options. Completionists will be able to sink months into Brink by completing challenges, reaching the level cap of 50, and unlocking all the outfits, weapons, and weapon attachments. There is enough to do and unlock in Brink to keep you coming back for more. Overall, I recommend Brink for anyone looking for a fresh unique shooter.
THE BREAKDOWN

Gameplay– 7.5/10

– An overall smooth experience with a few issues with the SMART navigation system.

 Graphics– 7/10

– Brink is not the best looking game however it does what it has to in the graphic department some texture and character model issues hold the games unique art style from fully shining through.

Sound– 8.5/10

– The sound is simply amazing in brink the guns sound powerful and life and the environmental sounds around you sound as they would in real life. However, lack of dialogue and recycled lines really hold Brink back from scoring a 9 in the sound department.

Replayability– 8/10

– Lots to do, lots to unlock, Brink will spend a while in your disk tray.

 Presentation– 7/10

– Brink has okay menus which can be weird to navigate at times, however the player in-game interface is great.

 THE JUDGES FINAL RULING

 7.8/10

Brink has a few issues that hold it back from being the huge hit game it could have been, however Brink is still fun, plays well and will have you coming back for more.