Review: Mafia II: Jimmy’s Vendetta

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Oh, 2K Games. I see what you did. Instead of building a free roam mode – which the first Mafia game had – directly into Mafia II, you chopped it up into two DLC packs to release at and just after the game’s launch. First was The Betrayal of Jimmy, the freebie pack-in DLC that comes exclusively with new copies of the PS3 version. And now there is Jimmy’s Vendetta, an eerily similar piece of DLC, this time released for all three platforms at a price of $9.99 / 800 MS Points.

Sorry to be so snarky, but I’m not particularly fond of shady DLC practices, and on the surface that’s kind of how Jimmy’s Vendetta comes across. Putting my general sense of DLC skepticism aside, though, Jimmy’s Vendetta is a beefy add-on to the Mafia II experience, and a nice gaming value for the spend.

Technically, Jimmy’s Vendetta is a sequel to The Betrayal of Jimmy. For those of you playing on the PC or Xbox 360 and thus can’t play The Betrayal of Jimmy, the episode closes with Jimmy, an independent mob enforcer dude, getting tossed in the slammer. That’s where Jimmy’s Vendetta begins, in a dramatic opening mission that has you breaking Jimmy out of prison to get back on the mean streets of Empire Bay and exact revenge on those that got him pinched.

In reality, though, neither add-on has a story beyond what I just told you. Jimmy has no depth or personality, and you really don’t meet any other interesting characters either. All’s you get are a couple toss-in cutscenes (one at the beginning, one at the end) and short mission descriptions that are text blurbs no longer than a sentence or two each.

And that’s OK. Jimmy’s Vendetta isn’t meant to be a story extender (that’s what Joe’s Adventures will be for), but rather a bonus arcade mode opening up Empire Bay for more free-roaming activities. In that regard, this DLC certainly excels.

In total, there are more than 30 missions (I counted 33, but the map has quite a few icons bunched up, so my math may not be 100%), and altogether you’re looking at 4-5 hours to complete them all one time. That’s a hefty chunk of extra gameplay for only $10.

Mission objectives are slim on variety, with the majority requiring you to drive from point A to point B to kill some people or blow something up, or to steal a vehicle and return it to a specific garage within a time limit. But you do earn bonus points based on your performance, so by landing headshots, drifting, driving really fast, blowing up vehicles, and whacking fools in rapid succession to build up the multiplier, you amass points which are calculated to determine a letter grade ranking for each mission. And this scoring system is tied into an online leaderboard, so if you’re really into trying to outdo other virtual mobsters, you’ll find yourself replaying missions again and again to bump up your high score.

Save for the change in structure, Jimmy’s Vendetta looks, plays and sounds exactly like the base game, and thus the same pros and cons carry over as well. On the plus side, the shooting gameplay is still fun and explosive, Empire Bay and everything in it looks and sounds amazing, and the vintage 40’s / 50’s soundtrack keeps you awake while motoring around the city.

On the down side, there is still way too much time spent behind the wheel traveling to and fro across Empire Bay between each mission, and the cops are still just as annoyingly inconsistent in choosing when to pursue you. I continue to be chased down for speeding while driving BEHIND cop cars, yet I can still blow up a gas station or massacre a group of people with police nearby and sometimes walk right by them without incident. It. Makes. No. Sense!

So, let’s get to the question that needs to be answered here: should you buy Jimmy’s Vendetta? Ultimately, my recommendation depends entirely on the platform you own the game on. If you bought the PS3 version and already have the free Betrayal of Jimmy DLC, there’s really no reason to get Jimmy’s Vendetta because it is basically a retread of the same content, only with Trophies and a slightly larger mission count. However, if you’re playing on the PC or Xbox 360 and missed not having the open-world fun of a free play mode, this add-on definitely hits the spot with simple, arcade-style mobster action.

In simpler terms: skip it if you have the PS3 version, buy it if you’re playing on PC or Xbox 360.

Pros:
+ Core third-person shooter gameplay continues to shine
+ Brings much needed free play activities to Empire Bay
+ Adds a lot more replay value at a reasonable price
+ Soundtrack is still amazing

Cons:
– Still way too much driving between missions
– Police AI is still nonsensical and annoying
– Mostly a retread of PS3 DLC pack The Betrayal of Jimmy

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3, also available on PC and Xbox 360
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Czech
Release Date: 9/7/2010
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!