It's the game that, really, just kept me distracted until Civilization V came out. (As an aside, the latter is pretty much the reason I haven't posted anything.)
I really enjoyed Mafia and I was hoping for something similar with this one. Instead it really did go backwards.
Not graphically of course, graphically Empire Bay is basically scenery porn. The choice of music is good and the story is still good. And the fact that quite a few of the places are designed to be destroyed is nice too.
However it's not really a game that you can play through more then once. Maybe you'll play it through again to get the Playboy "articles" or you'll be playing it for the achievements.
That being said there is quite a lot missing. Empire Bay has a sort of GTA III feel. The city is alive but it isn't. One of the things that made Mafia work was the fact that it felt like the city was alive. You'd see trolley cars on the streets, the rail system worked, people would do things and the aforementioned public transport system actually worked. You could get on a trolley or a train and travel instead of using a car. Mafia II gets rid of that. The rail system doesn't exist, neither does the subway, and the buses don't do anything.
It's more a shell of a city then a city itself.
The other thing is that the main storyline is pretty much it. What sucks is that they basically set up side missions that never existed. In Mafia after some of the missions you could either go back to Salieri's and end the mission or you could choose to go to Luca for a "steal a car" mission. I liked those missions because they were ones where logic and cunning took precedence over superior firepower. I was hoping that this would be the same here.
I was wrong.
We're introduced to two people, Mike Bruski who works at the junkyard and Frederico Pappalardo who is the crooked union boss of the docks. They both imply that you'll do jobs for them outside of the main storyline but you don't. Go there and it's "Sorry Vito, I haven't got anything for you". They're just there to crush or export cars.
Then there is the hammerspace. Mafia worked because you didn't have hammerspace. You could hide a couple of pistols, and maybe a larger gun, but that was it. You were limited in what you could carry so you had to actually think. The other thing was that you had to be careful when you reloaded, reload too early and you'd lose the remaining ammo. No so in this game. You can keep your ammo and you can carry as many guns as you'd like. Also, why can't you shoot while driving? You could in the last game. Oh well.
The last thing that I miss is the police. Sure they're there but they are useless. Really, really, really useless. Sure Joe will tell me that I've missed a red light, but then again I never stopped at any red lights when I'd play GTA. The reason in that game is the same as this one. There is no incentive to. The police don't seem to care (unlike in Mafia), there are only three things that they care about, bar going about killing people. The first is speeding. As long as you don't kill anyone you can escape with a little fine. The second is stealing cars. The third is having weapons out in public. Very realistic there.
Oh well. It was a fun game to play the first time around. Too bad there isn't any real incentive to do it again.