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Mafia 2

2K devs on cinematic narratives and new technology

Put a Tommy Gun to someone's head and ask them what comes to mind when they hear the words 'Mafia II' and you'd forgive them for blurting out "Grand Theft Auto". The sandbox gangster games have obvious similarities, but international producer at 2K games Alex Cox and 2K Czech senior gameplay producer Janek Kolar say the two games are actually words apart.

Sitting down with CVG, the pair talk about the visual impact of their game, which will be coming to PC in 3D, the possibilities of motion control and how Mafia II is more cinematic story-time than a sandbox free-for-all.

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Graphically Mafia II's looking very impressive...

AC: I don't know whether you played the original Mafia on console or PC because the studio, Illusion Softworks as they were then and 2K Czech are historically a PC developer and so that's where the console have particularly benefited from that particular heritage. It's always been our goal to make sure Mafia II is a cross-platform game, is released on all platforms to the same quality but the console versions have benefited a lot from the studio being a PC developer historically and having high graphical expectations and the ability to produce great artwork because they are historically able to put this out on PC first time.

JK: I think we are lucky that our artists and animators they are so talented that we come up with some ideas and after some time they come up with the result that is outstanding. It's really interesting too; you have a level in the beginning where you want to have some gameplay and there is some idea there and then the artists are working on it and after some months you get it back and it's like full of detail and a lot of things you would never have imagined they could put there. And also the animators, they have a few lines of dialogue and what they came with is a really brilliantly shot situation, moving the camera, the positions of people. So it's very nice.

You've been showing it off in 3D haven't you?

AC: 3D definitely is a feature for the PC version, not for consoles it's just for PC I think it's nVidia 3D tech that's there. The game works especially well in 3D I have to say. The 3D for Mafia II works especially well, nVidia has told us that it's a particularly successful product and...

JK: Basically this 3D thing it works perfectly well for games because they are in real time there are no artificial effects like they do on movies and you can really look around and it's absorbing.

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Why 3D just for PC? Sony's obviously pushing 3D at the moment...

AC: Came too late for us in Mafia is the reality. nVidia they provided us with add-on hardware if you imagine. For us to go back and retro fit things like 3D for consoles or Move or Kinect or any of these great new technologies, it's just too late for us.

JK: But as I said 3D for games is really something, which almost comes for free. I remember myself working on a game seven years ago and we got the super photo glasses and 3D so it's nothing new for games. So I would say that we can get, if it's important for the console manufacturers, we'll be able to provide upgrades of the game...

DLC maybe?

Yeah or just an update something like that.

How important do you think 3D's going to be?

JK: Well I think it's not that important I would say. It just adds some layers and perception. I think it's more important for the non-interactive media where this third dimension gives you just a feeling of the space. Films, when they are in 2D, they are changing focus on things which are important but if the product is in 3D it's basically you as a user who is focusing on things in the foreground, things in the background. In games basically you are in control of your camera, you can move your character so you can decide what you do. So it's just a little improvement in what we have.

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