Imagine trying not to mention Jaws while reviewing a new film in which a shark eats people. No, not easy.

So you'll understand the difficulties of trying not to mention Grand Theft Auto while reviewing Mafia II, a career-based game involving random acts of casual violence and much driving.

The concept is familiar. You start off as the little fish in the big pond, carrying out small jobs for powerful types in exchange for money, while increasing respect and trust.

GTA is the yardstick by which all such games are measured and Mafia II stands up well to the comparison.

You play Vito Scarletta, a classic Italian American stereotype. Think Joey from Friends. Now think Joey from Friends blowing Chandler away with a Tommy gun and fighting off unwanted attention in a prison shower.

The action is set in the stunning surroundings of Empire City (i.e. New York) after Vito returns from World War II.

The backdrop is breathtaking and you could easily spend hours driving through the city taking it all in. Music from the 1940s and 1950s makes the experience even more impressive.

The cut scenes are cinema quality - although sometimes a little drawn out - and developers 2K obviously take the storyline seriously.

You meet up with old friend Joe who 'knows people' and rapidly fall into the grimy world of organised crime.

The Mafia bosses rule through fear and violence and it's not long before it's all molotov cocktails and shallow graves.

The graphics are excellent and the gameplay is sharp and addictive once you master the controls.

It goes without saying for a certificate 18 but if you don't like swearing in games please don't buy this.

You'll only end up writing to the Daily Mail fearing the collapse of western civilisation.

Mafia II is entertaining, visually impressive and best enjoyed while wearing a tuxedo and trilby.

Four stars out of five.

Mafia II: Review on PS3, also available on Xbox 360 and PC.Certificate 18