Interview & Trailer: Mafia II Trailer Kicks You in the Head

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This trailer shows off lots of the reasons that I’m looking forward to this game. The sweeping cinematic camera movement takes you all around the game’s setting of Empire Bay and shows you key moments that you’ll be experiencing as Vito Scarletta. From getting in with the local wiseguys to car chases with guns blazing to a brutal beatdown of someone who’s late on the vig, the new trailer shows that the 2K Czech dev studio is aiming to deliver the deepest and most intense Mafioso video game yet.

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You’ll be playing as newly-returned GI Vito and the guy who takes you around is Joe Barbaro. Part of making Mafia II feel so authentic is the care being given to the casting and direction of the actors portraying the characters. The guy giving voice to Vito’s best bud is Bobby Costanza, a veteran actor of stage, screen and soundbooth who’s logged in hundreds of hours of voicework in cartoons and movies. 2K’s Director of Creative Production Jack Scalici has overseen the vice acting for some of the company’s most recent games, including the classic BioShock. We talked to both of them about why mafia stories endure, how to establish characters through voice work and why voice acting can be so horrible in other games.

So the first question I wanted to start off with was what do you think the draw with mafia stories continues to be? Do you think like they’re the new mythology, that people like to see the same story told over again in a different way?

Bobby: To call it new, it’s been a phenomenon that’s been going on I guess since the early ‘70s since The Godfather. There were some other movies prior to that, but I think the real wave started with The Godfather, and really has gone on for what now? Going on four decades. It hasn’t lost a whole lot of momentum. I think one of the difficult things is coming up with a new slant. But no matter what you do, I mean, God knows there’s been some horrendous imitators. Talking to a couple of friends of mine who grew up in the suburbs, or are Wasps, they loved the theatricality, the almost operatic feeling of it all. It’s colorful. And it’s so far outside the norm of life. A lot of us I think are living in little confined worlds, and these guys just make their own rules, and that’s appealing even though it’s…well, it is real. But even though it is maybe glamorized sometimes, it’s exciting, and it’s theatrical. The same reason I love Woody Allen movies, because he puts us into a glimpse of a world that we don’t know. He does it so well. I think it’s a lot of those things.

And that’s what I was trying to get at. It’s become this grand sweeping way of talking about human nature, and the way people treat each other, and stuff like that.

Bobby: Yep, I mean the mob guys, I mean, say what you will about them. Puzo obviously in The Godfather mythologized them and made them sort of warm, and in an odd way, very familial, and then the idea about not dealing in drugs which, I mean, supposedly some of the guys…there were guys I know from my old neighborhood that really wouldn’t get involved  in drugs and would, you know, get rid of anybody who did. So there was a certain morality like that. And a lot of these guys are men of their honor, even though they’re doing dishonorable…well I don’t know about dishonorable, but certainly illegal things.

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