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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 23 August 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Mafia-II Video Game Performance
Mafia II Initial Impressions
Mafia II Interesting Characters
Mafia II Gameplay Details
NVIDIA APEX PhysX Enhancements
NVIDIA 3D-Vision Effects
Graphics Detail: Polygons
Testing and Results
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Gameplay Final Thoughts

In full disclosure, I'm not really a fan of old tyme Italian-gangster themed games. What makes Mafia II so impressive is how this game took my opposing personal tastes and consumed me into a storyline that kept me hooked. Once you get past the macho mob-mentality continually spewed from Vito's pal Joe Barbaro, this game really grows legs and takes you for a ride. By the end, you're personally involved enough to feel a little sympathy for a few fictional characters. This is how Mafia II earned my respect, and also how the game has you glued to the plot like a good book.

The game itself plays out well, although there were certain aspects I would have liked to see more of. Driving isn't one of them, and I the task a bit tedious... even when you're driving the fastest car with the best upgrades. Fist fights are played down in Mafia II, save for your time in the slammer, and seem to completely go away after your return from prison. Taking cover during gun fights is essential, but it also stacks odds heavily in your favor. As a result of this, I recommend that gamers play Mafia II on the 'Hard' difficulty setting to experience the most realistic challenge. This setting also unlocks the pinup poster collectables.


Mafia-II Conclusion

To experience Mafia II with all it's high-quality graphical glory, gamers are going to require at least a GeForce GTX 470 video card to produce optimal frame rates. Of course, the game's settings can all be dialed down, but once you've experienced APEX PhysX there's really no turning back. Although I've generally been rather quiet in regard to PhysX quality enhancements for video games, this silence ends with Mafia II. APEX PhysX literally helped turn Mafia II from video game to video reality - it's that different. Add NVIDIA's GeForce 3D-Vision onto this, whether it be single display or 3D-Vision Surround, and you'll experience realism not found in any other title before this.

While there were a few less-detailed graphical examples found, overall Mafia II contains some of the best high-detail textures we've seen in a game. Formerly revered high-detail games such as Crysis hardly compare to the intensive design features found in Mafia II, and when APEX Clothing or APEX Vegetation are taken into consideration there's really no equal. NVIDIA's APEX Destruction doesn't bring an entire building down like Battlefield Bad Company 2, but then again that's a rather difficult task when you're firing a Tommy Gun. APEX Turbulence transforms smoke, fumes, and vapor into familiar real-world details that consume you into the environment and convincingly imitate reality.

After it's all said and done, Mafia II leaves the player with several unanswered questions. The first time I played throught the entire game I found myself wanting more once the final chapter (15) was played out. Since I was on a deadline, skipping past all cinema scenes offered a five-hour total game time. The second time I played (on hard), more time was spent watching the cut scenes and hunting down posters, but it was the random elements such as vehicle upgrades and crime spree escapades that really add to the Mafia II replay value.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Benchmark Reviews has also published the supplementary report entitled NVIDIA APEX PhysX: CPU vs GPU Efficiency. This article uses Mafia II to compare GeForce and Radeon PhysX capabilites using GPU and CPU physics model processing.


+ Outstanding high-detail graphical textures
+ The story consumes you - even if you're no fan of the mob genre
+ APEX PhysX adds convincing realism
+ Very realistic vehicle physics and handling characteristics
+ Several hidden 'Collectables' extend gameplay past plot


- Lacks online multiplayer gameplay
- Players are restricted to one character role
- Mafia II can be completed in about 5-6 hours

Benchmark Reviews encourages you to leave comments (below), or ask questions and join the discussion in our Forum.

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# Nvidia Sponsored?KuzzenJoe 2010-08-23 11:14
"For best results in Mafia II, players are suggested to use NVIDIA GeForce products to properly process PhysX features and produce high-enough frame rate performance to enjoy 3D Vision". Nice to see an editorial follow the Nvidia-supplied script to the "T". Too bad Nvidia intentionally cripples Phys-x on CPUs and blocks Phys-x with ATI cards. But no worries - my HD 5970 runs just fine with Phys-X running on a seperate 9600GT, and it can display across three screens without needing another matching card. But of course, you would not know any of that from reading this article.
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# RE: Nvidia Sponsored?Olin Coles 2010-08-23 11:31
@KuzzenJoe: After seeing our benchmark results you somehow think I was biased for recommending GeForce video cards with Mafia-2? I know there will be ATI fanboys, but ignoring facts goes beyond favoritism. But you go ahead and play Mafia-2 with your $700 Radeon 5970 and watch a $200 GeForce GTX 460 eat it up with PhysX enabled.
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# RE: RE: Nvidia Sponsored?Adam 2010-09-09 13:55
strange. my hd 4850 plays it just fine and it cost me £50. your move
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# RE: RE: RE: Nvidia Sponsored?Olin Coles 2010-09-09 14:01
Who's move? Nobody said it wouldn't play fine with other cards. They just won't enjoy APEX PhysX with the extra post-processing unless it's a more recent GeForce video card.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Nvidia Sponsored?Adam 2010-09-09 15:50
yours and as a matter of fact im enjoying the apex effects quite well with a previous gen mid range ATI card thank you.
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# RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceRealNeil 2010-08-23 12:13
It's cost seems a little too high for a game that can be completed in less than 5 Hours.
I like all of the old styled cars though.
The Phys-X eye candy might be worth buying a pair of GTX 460 1GB cards in a SLI configuration. (just to try it out)
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# RE: RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceOlin Coles 2010-08-23 12:18
To be fair, I do explain that all of the cinema scenes were skipped my first time through because of the fast-approaching deadline. If you watch them all, and actually try to hunt down posters or Playboy magazines, you'll spend a lot more time in the game.

Also, I really suggest Mafia-2 with 3D-Vision. The combination of APEX PhysX and 3D-Vision take this game to a whole new level.
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# RE: RE: RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceRealNeil 2010-08-23 14:06
Thanks for the further explanation as to the time in game. As to 3D-vision I'll reserve judgement and adaptation until I can Actually see it with my own eyes and try it out a little. Phys-X is real doable for a decent price if you opt for the GTX-460 1GB cards in SLI, or so I'm being told by a few of my friends that have bought the overclocked ones from NewEgg recently. They're quite happy with that setup and now I want it too.
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# Who CaresGlen 2010-08-23 12:33
I don't have to worry about requirements anymore. Going to play this game tomorrow on my Netbook, far below the minimum thanks to OnLive.(Oh yeah and I'm going to get any free game(probably Just Cause 2) with a purchase OnLive) So $25 for this game and $25 for Just Cause 2.
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# RE: Who CaresAP 2010-08-25 09:43
Not at all blatent advertising for OnLive.
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# RE: RE: Who CaresOlin Coles 2010-08-25 09:45
Let's see if there's a reply in defense, otherwise I'll remove the comment.
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# RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceMartha Jones 2010-08-23 12:37
@KuzzenJoe, it is not nvidia's fault if ATI refuses to support CUDA and PhysX in their prodicts. nvidia has stated that ATI is welcome to support both, but ATI says they won't support a format which they have no control over and which is spearheaded by their competitor.
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# RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceGoodsir 2010-08-29 08:37
Why is the GTX480's framerate cut so much when PhysX is turned on, but the GTX460's framerate is hardly affected?
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# RE: RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceOlin Coles 2010-08-29 08:41
Aside from different GPU's (GF104 vs GF100), there isn't a clear explaination. Each video card was tested more than seven times per test, and all of the results were verified a second time through.
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# RE: RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceK 2010-08-29 10:21
Probably used CPU physX =P
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# RE: RE: RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceOlin Coles 2010-08-29 11:21
What? This game doesn't have a setting to pick between GPU and CPU PhysX. If the GPU support PhysX (GeForce) then it uses GPU, if it doesn't (Radeon) it does what it can with CPU.
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# RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceK 2010-08-29 13:10
There actually was an issue back in the Demo version of Mafia 2 that the PhysX update, when installed could make your card's PhysX capabilities on a forced disable.

You should check it for yourself by running the game again, except with the "Show PhysX visual indicator" option enabled in your Nvidia Control panel. It's there under the 3D settings menu, next to View and Help.

If it says PhysX > CPU, then it's processing PhysX effects via the CPU, if PhysX > GPU, then it's utilizing the GPU to produce physX effects.
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# RE: RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceOlin Coles 2010-08-29 13:28
The demo version wasn't used for this review; it's the full retail version of the game.
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# RE: RE: RE: Mafia-II Video Game PerformanceK 2010-08-29 13:32
Aye. However, there's always the possibility. And it's probably no effort just to doublecheck. ;)
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# wtfTeflon 2010-09-13 19:13
Moin! This is a strange benchmark!!! My Gtx 260 and phenom II x4 (@3ghz) can handle the game at the highest settings (1920x1080). getting a frame rate around 35. physx on high.
greetings from germany,
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# problem with physxdiaeko 2011-07-20 08:34
the brand of my graphic card is intel and physx only supports nvidia
what should I do to run the game without physx?
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# RE: problem with physxOlin Coles 2011-07-20 10:38
You will have very poor performance without a 3D graphics accelerator. You can still disable PhysX in the games video options, if you want to try. I suggest reducing all setting to their minimum.
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