Resisting The Obvious Quotes: Mafia Devs Semi-Shut Down

By Alec Meer on January 10th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

pls insert own movie reference

They might call it a “restructuring”, but whatever word one applies to it, it’s bad news for a venerable studio with a rich heritage. In this partial death, let them once again assume their true mantle. 2K Czech were and always shall be Illusion Softworks, creators of Hidden & Dangerous, Mafia and not enough else. Subsumed into the 2K mass in 2007 and renamed in 2008, sadly it did not reach the dizzy heights of contemporaneous acquiree Irrational, as its expensive sequel to Mafia proved disappointing (though it does have its passionate fans). Tennis sequel Top Spin 4 was its sole release subsequent to that, and as of today’s revelation that the studio’s Prague-based headquarters has been closed down by 2K, perhaps we shall never know if Illusion Softworks might have one day reclaimed their reputation for ambitious, complex and atmospheric historical action games.

Although reports today (including this one) have something of the eulogy to them, this is not in fact a full closure.

Some aspect of 2K Czech lives on yet, as a few key staff are being transferred to offices in Brno (the Czech Republic’s second city) and Novato, Calfornia. However an official 2K statement suggests this remnant will play a support role to other, larger studios rather than tackle its own projects – but time will tell. As I understand it, Brno used to be the headquarters in the past, but in recent years Prague assumed lead duties.

Said a committee of executives parsed by a robot in a statement to Eurogamer (who broke this news), “This transition will both strengthen the integration of the 2K Czech team with our award winning development teams, and better align cross-functional business practices. As part of this realignment, we are adjusting our staffing levels, resulting in the elimination of some positions.

TRANSITION…
INTEGRATION…
REALIGNMENT…

ELIMINATION

The big question is what this means for Mafia 3, long and heavily rumoured to be in the making at 2K Czech, and which at one point was alleged to be a potential Sexbone and Pay Attention For launch title. The smart money would be on it accompanying those reportedly ‘key’ staff making the move to 2K’s Californian offices, and if true who knows what studios’ name the box will ultimately bear?

The very best of luck and big hugs to those who have either lost their jobs or find themselves leaving their homes as a result of this.

__________________

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46 Comments »

  1. msing says:

    Mafia 2 disappointing?? I loved it.. Guess I need to see what the original’s like.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      I felt it was better, a lot more memorable. Though there;s a mission, an old Grand Prix race, which I still find almost impossible to pass.

      • basilisk says:

        The race has been later patched to a much lower difficulty (I think I remember it’s selectable, but I may be wrong there). Shouldn’t be a problem now.

      • Shadowcat says:

        I loved that race!

        At first I got annihilated; the opposition seemed to have rocket boosters strapped to their vehicles, and I appeared to have no hope of winning. I think there was also an unskippable cutscene, which genuinely was a massive PITA. I hated that race so much.

        After losing for a while I noticed a potential (and indeed actual) short-cut and decided that maybe it would be enough to get me through. I got quite good at that bit, but I was still struggling…

        Finally I actually stopped to consider where and why I was being beaten, and suddenly it all made sense. The other cars weren’t faster; the computer wasn’t cheating; it was just simple common-sense physics.

        That shortcut did help, but I knew I no longer needed it; I ditched it, drove the track properly, and very shortly afterwards I won the race in a nail-biter. I then replayed it and won it by a huge margin (this time driving from the cockpit view, for extra atmosphere, which apparently made me a little more accurate).

        It was SO satisfying figuring out that race, that I was pretty sad when I heard that they’d nerfed it. All I could think was that people were being denied that same tremendous sense of satisfaction.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Mafia 2 is one of my favorite games of all time. Aside from the wonky shooting, it’s about as good as video games get.

    • skyturnedred says:

      The shooting aspect might feel a bit outdated, but the atmosphere is pretty much as good as it gets. Also, there is a certain mission in Mafia 2 that is a lot better if you played the first one.

    • endoskop says:

      1) Mafia 2 was in development for nearly 8 years. It suffered a complete technological restart halfway through. So it was expensive. It sold quite well but well enough? Was it profitable? we don’t know. Therefore it probably was financial disappointment
      2) Mafia 2 devs promised a bunch of stuff which, due to the dev complications, had to be cut and didn’t make into the final game. Although uderstandable result for people with a brain it was a disappointment compared our expectations based on what we were promised.
      3) Not only it was lacking features but because they had to cut content they also had to rewrite the story considerably and characters and storytelling suffer from it.

      Although I liked it, yes it was disappointing because the potential went unfulfilled. It seems to me that point 1 and the fact they haven’t been able to progress on a sequel fast enough (it is 3 years already and there is no announcement so we are at least 1 more year away from a next game) lead to the closure. Sad news indeed but it seems to me 2K fucked the team up and the best people are long gone.

      • Lionsy says:

        Sounds like the development of the original Mafia to me, Lots of promises that were never kept… actually it sounds like game development! I’m still waiting for my multiplayer patch for the original Mafia.

        That said, Mafia (1) is one of my favorite games of all time, the music was brilliant, a lot of the mechanics were clunky, but it was still one of the best games of its time.

  2. Jorton Del Square says:

    Great studio, Mafia II was stellar fun if you chose to get properly involved. RIP.

  3. Suopis says:

    I enjoyed the original.

    I also greatly enjoyed Mafia 2.

    These are sad news =/

  4. RedViv says:

    Aww. Hope the affected people can find new spots to fill. Warhorse at least has a few.

  5. endoskop says:

    May be worth mentioning that the guy behind Mafia has his own studio Warhorse working on Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
    The studio is based in Prague. So the the team famous for “ambitious, complex and atmospheric historical action games” might have just changed its name from cosumer point of view. :-)

  6. BobbyDylan says:

    AS news Hidden & Dangerous was one of my favorite early games. I loved H&D 2.

  7. boundless08 says:

    Played both Mafias, the second is my favourite. The first time I seen those coats move I was hooked.

    The Joe’s Adventure expansion is also one of the best in recent years I think, maybe even better than the original game!

  8. Syra says:

    The headline was worth it. Throw some alternative obvious quotes at me please!

  9. Colej_uk says:

    Damn, Illusion was one of my favourite PC developers in the early 2000s. We could really use a new Hidden & Dangerous round about now.

  10. Imaginary Llamas says:

    Worth mentioning that the first Hidden and Dangerous is legally free to download from here: http://www.hidden-and-dangerous.net/deluxe/download.php

    The controls are a bit wonky and it can be unfairly difficult at times, but I still have a lot of fun with it.

  11. Shadowcat says:

    Mafia and the H&D series were great, but I loved Illusion mostly for having a hand in Pterodon’s “Vietcong” — one of the greatest tactical shooters I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. (Aside from those two missions that drove me nuts. And the too-long tunnels. The rest was absolutely incredible, though!)

  12. ChainsawCharlie says:

    That’s a big bummer. Mafia games got two of my all time gaming moments. These being the ending of Mafia 1 and the intro mission of Mafia 2.

  13. dethtoll says:

    Considering that Mafia 1 was a giant mess of cliches with a barely sensical plot, horrible voice acting, a city that didn’t feel half as lively as the uglier, boxier-looking GTA3 which came out a full year previous, frustrating trial-and-error gameplay with clunky shooting mechanics and an absolutely schizophrenic difficulty curve, and Mafia 2 basically fixed all those issues and still wasn’t any fun to play…

    I can’t shed too many tears.

  14. Freud says:

    Mafia 2 was a massive disappointment. Short game that artificially padded the playing time by having most of the game consist of poorly designed driving in a completely dead city that was only set construction. To further the insult to their customers, it was one of the first games that was designed around DLCs. No wonder it was so content poor.

    Illusion Softworks used to be one of those developers where I looked forward to their releases since the utterly brilliant Hidden & Dangerous, but they lost it somewhere along the way.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      I don’t normally respond to negative critiques of video games (subjective opinions and all that), especially ones I have a deep fondness for (I don’t want to come off as a butthurt fanboy), but I really feel the need to correct you on a couple items:

      A) The city is teeming with life — there are people all over Empire Bay. They’re shopping, they’re hanging out on corners, they’re walking, they’re driving, they’re working. I’m not sure what kind of population density you were expecting from Mafia II, but there are certainly enough people in the game to make it feel like a busy 1950s city. Design-wise, Empire Bay is easily on par with any other city layout in any other video game, and AFAIC it totally caught the atmosphere of a growing post-war American metropolis.

      B) Mafia II was certainly not one of the first games to implement an admittedly less-than-stellar DLC model. Anyway, most of the DLC for the game are cosmetic and are easily enough avoided, and there is enough content in the vanilla game that claiming it was “designed around DLC” is just plain false.

      Given the validity of your complaints, I doubt you got more than a couple hours into the game before you gave up on it. Can’t say I really blame you if the driving was what turned you off, but Mafia II is a game that ultimately rewards patience.

  15. Misfit410 says:

    Hidden and Dangerous was one of my favorite franchises aside from the early Commandos games, Mafia and Mafia 2 were both incredible.. this is beyond sad.

  16. Werthead says:

    MAFIA was an amazing game. MAFIA II, not quite so much. It was still good, but it felt quite lacking compared to the original, which had a richer atmosphere and better writing and voice acting. Assuming they continued to move forwards in time, MAFIA III would presumably have been set in the 1960s/1970s, which I think is a very ripe time period for this sort of game. Now I’m left hoping GTA VI (if not a massive GTA V expansion) is set in San Fierro in the 1970s, which would be fantastic.

    Regrettably, I couldn’t get into HIDDEN AND DANGEROUS. When it was released it was completely and utterly broken, bugged to hell and back several times over. I remember almost completing the first mission, despite the enemy being able to shoot me through solid walls, only to drop screaming through the floor and die from impacting the bottom of the worldspace. I never went back when it was patched up to try it out properly.

  17. EBass says:

    Mafia is one of my favourite games of all time, it’s always hard to construct strong central characters when the game gives you the freedom to behave like a bloodthirsty psychopath, but I think Mafia did it better than anyone else.

    Still don’t get how people find the race hard, I managed it first time and won by about half a lap, but I guess it takes all sorts.

    I think their magnum opus was definatly Hidden & Dangerous though. It’s funny how some seminal games get left out of the historical narrative of the development of games. System Shock and such always gets it’s due, but Hidden and Dangerous really was ground breaking in many many ways, and never seems to be talked about nowerdays.

    I forgot they had a hand in Vietcong! One of the most under-rated games of all time imho.

    Enjoyed Mafia 2, but didn’t think it was anything special. Sad to see the studio go under.

  18. JamesTheNumberless says:

    On the plus side for any 2K Czech ex-employees reading this: Sproing Interactive are hiring in Vienna! It’s basically the same as Prague but the koblihy are called krapfens and the coffee is better… Oh and the wages are higher and we don’t make you do that ridiculous programming test with the bouncing clocks ;)

  19. Cochise779 says:

    Mafia was one of my favorite games of all time. Clunky mechanics, and the environment definitely looks dated now, but few games created as compelling an atmosphere. I mean, how many other games get away with putting a speed limit in the game and ticket you for disobeying? Half of the time I wanted to drive the speed limit, there was no reason not to. Just something I remember clearly as so unique.

    Mafia II felt…emptier to me. I thought it lacked the bigger story Tommy had in the first one. Still good, but not great. More an homage than a true sequel. Still disappointing to see any studio that made a classic like Mafia go under.

    Never played Hidden & Dangerous. Is it worth a look now?

    • B1A4 says:

      H&D 2 is still the best tactical team-based 2WW shooter ever created.

      • KeeperKrux says:

        Agreed! God, I loved that game so much.

        Hidden and Dangerous 1+2 and Mafia are classics and I really enjoyed Vietcong and Mafia 2. Thanks for all the great games, Illusion.

  20. rolandormcquiston says:

    my buddy’s step-aunt makes $82/hour ℴn the internet. She has been fired from work for 6 months but last month her pay check was $13120 just working ℴn the internet for a few hours. lℴℴk at this web-site….. http://www.dub30.com

  21. Grey_Ghost says:

    I guess now my hopes of a Hidden & Dangerous 3 are nil.

  22. Hencts says:

    my classmate’s mother-in-law makes $87 every hour on the computer. She has been without work for 10 months but last month her payment was $21413 just working on the computer for a few hours. read,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.Bay95.com

  23. Chubzdoomer says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks Mafia 2 is very underappreciated. I thought it was a fantastic game… really did a great job portraying the time period(s) and I thought both the story and gameplay were great.

  24. Jonnyuk77 says:

    Sad times. All of my early LAN play was based around Hidden and Dangerous… HD2 when that was released.

    Nothing better than starting a mission and having a member of your team shoot someone in the foot then use a med patch to patch them up… just for fun. Or gently place a grenade in the middle of everyone as the map opens.

    I think the end mission of HD1 took a full day of play for us to finish, even then it was only one man of the squad…

    Did anyone else race their squad to get the best jumper from the washing line in HD2?

  25. eaprivacypolicy says:

    Is that George Osbourne on the right?

  26. A-Scale says:

    This is a real shame. I was just looking at their wiki page this week and noted that they had released very few games in the last 5 years. You just can’t sustain a studio on one great game and one good game.

    My take on Mafia 2: beautiful game, very memorable moments, but the open world was sacrificed and as a result lost all replayability, which is where the original really shined. For anyone who has not played either Mafia 1 or 2, you owe it to yourself to do so.

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