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The Bleak Arc of Mafia II


June 18, 2010 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next
 

The crime genre has expanded in games so much so that one publisher can support multiple games -- and each has its own creative vision. Take-Two is parent of both Rockstar (which has Grand Theft Auto and LA Noire) and 2K Games, which has the upcoming Mafia II.

Here, that game's senior producer Denby Grace explains the approach that's been taken to this game in terms narrative, visuals, and gameplay design, to set it apart. This includes the fact that the game embraces more linear gameplay than other crime games -- something he sees as essential to presenting a polished, shooter-like experience -- yet still retains the freedom of movement players expect.

He explains also the narrative chances the developers are taking with the title -- a "bleak arc" which features an early climax and ups and downs; one he hopes can deliver unexpected twists and show gamers the true complexity of the life of a made man.

You guys are releasing this game, and we're starting to see promotion of LA Noire, which is the same parent company. GTA IV obviously came out a little while back. Where do you see Mafia II in the spectrum of this open-world crime genre?

DG: It's interesting: They sit in a little bit of a different space. GTA IV's whole schtick -- and I'm speaking from a fan's point of view, not a consumer's point of view -- is do anything in the world. Go there; do this.

And on the side, it has this great storyline, great multiplayer. It does everything pretty good; it's a big open-world game. LA Noire -- I don't know anything more than you guys do about it, so I can't really talk about that.

But Mafia's whole schtick is this cinematic experience, you know? It really is more like a third-person action-adventure game shooter than an open-world game. This open-world backdrop exists because it is needed for our story; we need the player to be able to get into the city, get cars, and do these things. But the actual gameplay itself -- the story, the way the story's presented, the linear sort of nurse of the story -- it's all more like a third-person shooter.

So I think the experience is a more cinematic experience. That's the easiest thing to say. It feels less of an open-world game and feels more like Uncharted or Gears of War in a lot of ways, but then you have these cars that you can drive around in an open-world city. I think you'll get that.

And it's one of the reasons why we've had to do this sort of two-pronged approach because, [for example] this mission, we wanted to focus on people getting their teeth into the gunplay -- something that we spent a lot of time on is making the gunplay behave more like a third-person shooter. We worked on sort of auto-aiming stuff; we've got like a cover system and a really fluid system, so I think that hopefully paints some sort of picture.


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