The storyline for Mafia II is a gritty drama and chronicles the rise of Vito Scaletta, the son of Sicilian immigrants. As the game progresses, Vito joins the Falcone Crime Family and becomes a “made man”, as does his best friend Joe Barbaro.
The story begins with the player character Vito returning home from World War II. Vito had joined the U.S. Army as a way of avoiding jail time for a botched robbery. Vito reunites with his old friend, Joe Barbaro, and the two quickly embark upon a life of crime. Their criminal ascension starts with Mike Bruski, a car mechanic who needs a certain type of car to chop for parts and will pay $400 for one that the police are not tailing. Soon enough, Vito, Joe, and Henry Tomasino find themselves battling with, for, against, and around three crime factions: the Falcone, Vinci, and Clemente families.
The game contains around two hours of in-game cutscenes with a screenplay of 700 pages. Daniel Vávra, the writer and director of the original and the sequel, discussed the new angle of the game stating: “The old game was a tribute to gangster movies, a romantic vision. Mafia II is grittier, real, a darker world, and the effects are based in reality.” The Official Playstation Magazine states: “A high body count is still promised in this tale set in a fictional city inspired by New York of the 1940s and ’50s, but those casualties will come the hard way — through small-scale operations rather than mass firefights”.