I can't say I was a super fan of Mafia, so you might be wondering why Mafia 2 is showing up in my list of reviews. Quite simply, it was free. I got it for voting in the Joystik Awards. I doubt I would have purchased it as I'm not fond of driving games and no matter how you cut it, Mafia 1 and 2 are stories that require driving to and from every mission. Regardless, the game enjoys very positive reviews from users.
Having said that, I have to admit that once you get to the missions, they are better than in the first game. Although there is little evidence for much story until after Chapter 5, it does start to unfold after that and ends up being pretty decent in a way. I say in a way because there is really not much character building. Characterizations are seen solely through some conversations, but most of those center around the current missions. Vito Scaletta, our protagonist, doesn't seem to have any redeeming features and his goals center around making money to rise above the poverty experienced by his family while growing up, but even that explanation for criminality is only vaguely touched upon. There is also no romance to soften that view and little interaction with Vito's mother and his sister. It's all about the mob, their rivalries, and nothing else.
Although the game makes a pretence at offering other things to do in an open-world environment, like collecting or selling cars, there is actually no incentive to do them. There are no side missions and money is only needed for some outfits and some car repairs and upgrades. Although there are gun shops as well as clothing shops, you really don't need to buy weapons as you will either be given a pistol by Vito's best friend Joe, or pick up guns during missions.
In summary, Mafia 2 visuals are pretty good, the city looks great and it's just too bad there is nothing to do in it. The characters look pretty good too and the voice acting is superb. Combined with good missions, the game seems to overcome its shortfalls, although its abominable checkpoint saving system is a sore point with fans.
2K Czech developed both Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven and Mafia 2 and announced via their website that they would be assisting Hanger 13 with the development of Mafia 3. However, in 2017, 2k Czech was merged into Hanger 13 and no longer exists as a separate studio.
2K Czech began business as Illusion Software, which was acquired by Take-Two Interactive in 2008 and rebranded. By that time, Mafia had received worldwide acclaim and sold over two million copies. It was off the market for a while due to music licensing issues, but has recently made a return. The studio was also known for its Vietcong series, which was highly popular in the Czech Republic, and its Hidden and Dangerous series.
Although preliminary work on Mafia 2 began in 2004, the game was not released until 2010. In Aug of 2015, the PC game was suspended from sales with no explanation, but returned to Steam in June of 2016.
Mafia 2 did not receive quite as good reviews as the first Mafia, but was still well-received in general.