What’s the best way for an open-world game to leverage its sandbox environment? The massive Just Cause 2 peppers its islands with races, missions, and collectible widgets. Crackdown scatters agility orbs across rooftops to encourage exploration. GTA IV lets you braid your friends’ hair.
For better or worse, Mafia II ignores the question entirely, packing a very linear single player experience into a large and detailed world. This macro/micro contrast lends weight to the story – Vito Scaletta’s short journey has one impressive backdrop – but there just isn’t much to do in Empire City other than enjoy the vistas.
Mafia II’s narrow focus might finally open up with the release of its new add-on, Jimmy’s Vendetta:
Featuring 30 new missions that range from car chases to assassination attempts, Vendetta features Jimmy as a Jonathan-Banks-esque cleaner who fixes the Empire City mob’s more dangerous problems. Unfortunately, there’s no word yet about a multiplayer component, but Vendetta will bring along an online ranking system for hitpersons with a competitive streak.
If the 30 missions can be tackled GTA-style piecemeal, then Empire City just became a much more interesting place. We’re praying that Jimmy won’t have a taste for collectible Boy’s Lifes.
Vendetta serves up a lead salad to the PSN, Xbox Live Marketplace, and PC on September 7th.