Despite seeing some Mafia II footage in Auckland two weeks ago, I can’t get enough of this sequel to what I believe is still the best mafioso game to date (you can argue but I won’t change my mind), so it was nice to get to see a demo in action of this mob-based game.

Of all the games due for release from 2K this year, Mafia II is the one that I’ve really got my eye on.

Released on PC in 2002, Mafia was a gritty and ambitious title that was praised by critics and gamers alike (though the console ports didn’t do that well, surprisingly), and while it had annoyances - like incredibly slow cars and a frustrating racing car mission - Mafia is still one of the most gritty and enjoyable mob games that I’ve played to date.

Mafia II is said to span 10 years in the life of a wannabe mobster. As soon as the Mafia II demo opened, I felt as if I was returning to a familiar place that I had visited before, and while Mafia II is leaps and bounds ahead of Mafia in terms of graphics, it still has a familiar look about it that connects the two.

Mafia II takes place in the fictional city of Empire Bay, and it’s roughly two and a half times bigger than the game world in the first Mafia. The 30 minute demo, which was set in winter time in 1945, took us on a drive through the snow-covered streets of Empire City, where we had to kill someone called the Fatman.

The demo showcased the game’s combat, and had some driving sequences as well as a chase sequence through a distillery. The physics in the game mean that ice covered roads impact on the handling of the vehicle. For a game that isn’t going to be out for some time, it’s looking really, really good, and has graphics that look crisp and clean.

The demo was also a good chance to see the cover mechanic in action. From what I could see it looks remarkably robust, and the addition of some cover being destructible just seemed to add to how good this game is looking.

The dialogue is smart and what I heard really does a good job of drawing you into the world of a 1940s gangster. There was even some banter between characters that didn’t feel forced or out of place: I imagined that in the circumstances – waiting for an assassination target – they would talk among themselves about their backgrounds.

Seeing such good stuff with Mafia II makes me more impressed with this title than ever, and I think it looks like it will be the perfect sequel to what was a great gangster experience.