So I just finished Mafia 2, and I've got to say: It's an awesome example of story-telling in games, and it's my cup of tea.
This will contain minor spoilers for Mafia 2, and fairly major spoilers for Mafia 1, so if that bothers you then quit reading and/or quit listening!
I won't go into major deatils about the game, because you've probably either already made up your mind on whether or not if it's for you. If you haven't, then go check out some reviews because this isn't a review. If you want my review of the game, here it is: It's great. There.
But I want to touch, quickly, on an amazing piece of story-telling that took place both at the end of Mafia 1, and near the end of Mafia 2. In Mafia one, you play Tommy Angelo, much like you play Vito in number 2. And, like Mafia, 2 you work your way up in the family, and in the end, you defect to the feds for protection and to get out of the mob life. You had enough. In the final cut-scene, it shows you as an old man, watering your front lawn. A car pulls up, and two men get out...
"Mr. Salieri sends his regards."
And you're shot point-blank.
The ending of Mafia 1 is one that has stuck with me ever since I first played it. It was dirty, it didn't sit right, and it was perfect. It was real. In so many stories, you get off scott free in the end. All your trials and hardships weren't for nothing, they were for that final moment when everything was made right. But this? This wasn't about a neat little bow wrapping up everything neatly. It was about the reality of the situation: The family isn't something you can just walk away from. I loved it.
Fast forward to last night, where I finally was getting through Mafia 2. One mission near the end has you and your pal Joe going to wack some guy who angered another family. And as the drive to our destination went on, and as the conversation about the job got more detailed, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I was going to go kill me in another game.
I honestly stopped the car in the middle of the street, and said out loud: I don't want to do this mission. I liked Tommy Angelo. Sure, he made some mistakes, but he tried and reached for a better way! He sought redemption. Vito, my new character, didn't know that, though. And I was reminded all over again why I loved the ending of Mafia 1.
It wasn't about justice.
It wasn't about what was right or wrong.
It was about the way things were.
The family isn't something you can just walk away from.
I loved that they put it in Mafia 2, and I love that they executed it so well.
I didn't like seeing Tommy die all over again, but it couldn't have happened any other way.
And that's my cup of tea.