Face-Off: Mafia II • Page 3

Which to Vito?

A fast dual-core processor combined with an entry-level (80-100) graphics card should easily give you 30 frames-per-second at 1680x1050, with settings (PhysX aside) on max. GPUs just above 100, such as the Radeon HD 5830 and 5770, should nudge you close to 60FPS. And with the 768MB versions of NVIDIA's GTX460 available for around the same price-point, performance can be better still.

Here's a re-run of the console comparison, this time factoring in PC video. Note the difference in frame-rate in this 50 per cent speed video.

Mafia II: Xbox 360 vs. PC.

It's difficult to articulate how much more satisfying Mafia II is on the PC (a PS3/PC version of the above video has also been generated if you want to check that out instead). A sustained frame-rate combined with no tearing at all (thanks to the v-sync option) makes an incredible difference. With more frames being pumped out, the controls feel more responsive, and driving is very much improved as a result.

There are plently of small improvements to the image quality as well. The low resolution reflections in the console games are upped, although they still appear to be only quarter-res; shadowing is far superior; and the higher number of samples in the screen-space ambient occlusion show just how poor the 360 implementation is (although it's better than nothing).

The PC build also incorporates the latest and greatest APEX implementation of PhysX, resulting in grander explosions, flashy particle effects and swishy cloth movement. There are varying levels available, so those of you with monstrous GTX480s can run the whole thing at max settings on a single card, while others may be inclined to run a second NVIDIA GPU dedicated to powering physics. Mafia II isn't a game that relies much on its explosions, nor indeed clothing animations, so many gamers with a single GPU can turn off PhysX support with little impact on their overall game enjoyment. More important may be the inclusion of full 3D Vision for those with the requisite goggles and 120Hz displays.

It's rare that a Face-Off finds substanial enough platform differences to alter a given review score, but the PC version of Mafia II is undoubtedly a better experience. Nevertheless, it's still difficult to overlook the more inherent problems of dull mission design and an underused city, not to mention a linear focus interrupted too often by cut-scenes. The prison-based chapter in particular combines all of these complaints into one frustrating package.

That Mafia II has topped the UK all-formats chart for two weeks on the trot shows that many disagree with the Eurogamer verdict. So, design issues aside, which version emerges technically triumphant? The PC, by a country mile. If you have a dual-core PC with a decent graphics card, you'll make mincemeat of the 360 and PS3 versions.

Between those console games the gap is smaller. It's clear Microsoft's Xbox 360 has more in common with the visual fidelity offered on PC, and there are many additional cutbacks and tweaks in the PS3 release. But while the 360 game offers a better package technically, it's still a poor performer overall.

One saving grace on the PS3 is the inclusion of exclusive DLC in the form of the "Betrayal of Jimmy" add-on. A download voucher is included with the game for anybody buying the game first-hand. The score-based mission structure of the DLC and more traditional use of the open world add significant enjoyable content to the game. Bearing in mind that the two console versions are almost as poor as each other, the Betrayal of Jimmy may actually make the PS3 game the better buy overall.

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