Mafia II Mobile has a secret.
Though, broadly speaking, it attempts to follow the same path as its console cousin – seemingly billed by many as Grand Theft Auto for those fond of a trip to Frankie and Benny's – this is not the same expansive, openworld game as the title currently topping the charts around the globe. It just wants you to think it is.
On the surface, Mafia II Mobile's surface ticks all the same boxes: a city you can wander around relatively freely, guns and spilled guts aplenty, the ability to snatch cars and drive at (relatively) high speed, cops on every corner, and more Italians than your average Dolmio ad.
But it's the implementation of these features that determines what sort of game Mafia II Mobile is.
Viewed from above, the game's cityscape setting is split into sectors, with each new precinct coming with set goals that have to be met before you can move on.
Moving around is fairly simple – either by D-pad or the usual associated number keys – while engaging in combat requires nothing more than a tap of the '5' key, with Mafia II Mobile locking your fists or firepower onto the nearest target automatically.
However, while you're allowed to move around each sector freely – and, indeed, engage in side quests to take out further wiseguys if you so choose – it's unclear why you'd wish to stray from the main plot, because there isn't much to do.
A tale of one city
Each new level looks much like the last, in fact, and while there are trinkets aplenty to pick up – health packs and stashes of treasure littered around each stage – interaction beyond that is fairly limited.
In essence, Mafia II Mobile is a linear experience masquerading as a sandbox, with the pedestrian lined streets nothing more than decoration.
Once this is clear, Mafia II Mobile reveals its true colours, playing out like a solid, if a little ordinary, old skool 2D action title. Combat makes up the bulk of play, with success relying on your ability to shoot and run for cover in quick succession.
The only problem is, Mafia II Mobile's gameplay is repetitive. Running from one gun battle to the next – each one sandwiched by some fairly routine dialogue designed to spur you on – is basic stuff, and Mafia II Mobile makes no real attempt to stretch its legs.
As a result, though no-one would expect this mobile game to offer the kind of freedom 2K's effort does on other systems, by failing to tailor the experience to the platform Mafia II Mobile's foray into the mafioso is fine, but ultimately forgettable.