Mafia II Cultural References can be seen and heard throughout Mafia II.
The city of Empire Bay is a vast and culturally diverse city that serves as the setting for the Mafia II game. As such, various historical and cultural references can be seen and heard as you play through the game. Many of these references come in the form of Press Radio News reports or other broadcasts heard on the radio.
Movies and Television
- A house identical to the one in the 1960 movie Psycho can be seen in Highbrook.
- The mission Exit the Dragon is a reference to the 1976 Bruceploitation film called Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger, staring Bruce Li.
- As Vito enters Hartmann Federal Penitentiary, the prisoners are banging on the walls and threatening new prisoners, similar to the opening scene of the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption.
- The .357 Magnum's tagline is, Feeling lucky?. This is a reference to the phrase "You feeling lucky, punk?", made famous by Clint Eastwood in the 1970 film Dirty Harry.
- The scene in which Leo, Vito and Pepé are present in Leo's suite-like cell in prison is reminiscent of a similar scene in Martin Scorcese's 1990 film Goodfellas.
- Movie posters for four Humphrey Bogart movies, Casablanca, The Big Sleep, The African Queen, and The Maltese Falcon can be seen inside The Maltese Falcon.
- Vito and his father, Antonio Scaletta, share their first names with The Godfather characters Vito Corleone and his father, Antonio Andolini.
- The Hillwood House, featured in the Joe's Adventures mission A Lesson in Manners, is based on the Vandamm House from the 1959 film North by Northwest.
- An in-game commercial for Master Beer features fictional actor "Marion Barlow" doing a voice impersonation of Hollywood actor Marlon Brando.
- A portion of the anti-drug speech given by Frank Vinci at Vito's Made Man ceremony is a word for word quote from Marlon Brando's speech from The Godfather.
- In The Buzzsaw, an NPC can be heard saying, "It's a good day to die, kid!". "Today is a good day to die" is a Klingon battle exhortation in the Star Trek universe.
- The neighborhood of Hillwood features a sign inspired by the famous Hollywood Sign.
- Comedian, actor, and World War I veteran Jack Benny is mentioned in an Army recruitment spot that plays on the radio in the 1945 segment of the game.
- A news report mentions the introduction of television studios broadcasting in color and the release of Color television sets.
- Chapter 14 is called Stairway to Heaven, which is the title of a famous song by British rock band Led Zeppelin.
- In The Wild Ones, when a greaser gets killed, occasionally Joe will say, "another one bites the dust!", which is a title of a popular song by British rock band Queen.
- News report on rebellious teenagers and the dangers of Rock and Roll music can be heard on the radio.
- A WWII news report mentions German Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel.
- A picture of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci can be seen in Leo Galante's prison cell in Hartmann Federal Penitentiary.
- Another of Leonardo da Vinci's works, the Mona Lisa, is used in the menu icon of its namesake bar The Mona Lisa.
- A news report mentions the fictional Broadway play "Tears in Tangiers" that will be coming to Empire Bay.
- Vito Scaletta is mentioned in the video game The Darkness II, another title made by 2K Games. A character named Jimmy "The Grape" will say "I knew this guy, Vito Somethin'-or-other. Me an' him did some time in the fifties. Boy, could that kid jack a car."
- Before Vito hits the showers in chapter 6, a prison guard says "Would you kindly?", a reference to another 2K game, BioShock.
- The title of the mission Murphy's Law comes from Murphy's law, which states, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong".
- While driving or walking through Empire Bay, you may come across a hobo. If you stand in front of him for a while he will say "Family kidnapped by ninjas, need money for Karate lessons". This is a reference to a once popular internet meme.
World and Military Leaders
- German leader Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party are mentioned many times throughout the 1945 segment of the game.
- News reports of Korean War general Douglas MacArthur being removed from his position as General of the Army by President Harry S. Truman will play in the 1951 segment of the game.
- The 1952 race between presidential candidates Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson is mentioned in news reports from the 1951 segment of the game.
- The same news reports also mention former Vice President Richard Nixon, who later became President of the United States in 1969.
- Calogero Vizzini, also known as Don Calò, is mentioned in The Old Country and Home Sweet Home.
- The real world governing body of the Mafia known as The Commission is mentioned in the game.
- News report about the execution of convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg can be heard in the 1951 segment of the game.
World War II
- Chapter 1 involves Vito taking part in Allied invasion of Sicily, code named Operation Husky.
- While in the military, Vito was assigned to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
- While in the military, Harry Marsden took part in the landing at Utah Beach during Operation Overlord in Normandy, France.
- Press Radio news reports on the Soviet Liberation of Poland in January 1945.
- Press Radio news reports on the Yalta Conference, where the heads the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union gathered to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe.
- Press Radio news reports on the allied forces battle to push back the German Army in the Ardennes offensive, also known as the Battle of the Bulge.
- Press Radio News reports on the Siege of Budapest.
- Press Radio news reports on the British Spitfire aircraft destroying the fuel production facility for Germany's V-2 rocket.
- Press Radio news reports on the discovery of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet forces in Poland.
- Press Radio news reports on the United States Bombing of Berlin by B-17 Bombers in February 1945.
- Press Radio news reports on Operation Bodenplatte carried out by the German Luftwaffe in January 1945.
- Press Radio News reports on the Bombing of Nuremberg Germany.
- Press Radio news reports on the Malta Conference between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the island of Malta.
- Press Radio News reports on the Liberation of Belgium from German control.
- Press Radio News reports on the crossing of the Roer River under Operation Grenade, marking the beginning of the Allied invasion of Germany.
- Press Radio News reports on the East Prussian Offensive where Soviet forces take the city of Elbing.
- Press Radio News reports on the bombardment of Dresden.
- Press Radio News reports on the Operation Plunder and the taking of the Rhine River.
- Press Radio News reports on Japanese Kamikaze pilots sinking ship in the Pacific theater. (The report incorrectly attributes the attacks as the Japanese being short on ammunition and hope, when in fact they were a strategic plan designed to destroy warships more effectively than conventional air attacks using specially built aircraft loaded with explosives.)
- Press Radio news reports on the Battle of Manila against Japanese forces in the Philippines.
- Multiple Press Radio News reports mention the bombardment and subsequent ground invasion of Iwo Jima.
- Press Radio News reports on the Peru joining the fight against Japan.
- Press Radio News reports on the Bombing of Tokyo and Yokohama.
- Press Radio News reports on the Victory in the Philippines after landings on the islands of Samar and Capul.
Many of the news reports in 1951 we about futuristic sounding inventions or ideas that would be commonplace when the game was released in 2010, and were geared more towards humor than actual news. The subjects of these reports include the following.
- Restaurants offering take-out or drive-thru service.
- The television remote control.
- The telephone answering machine.
- The car phone.
- The video tape recorder.
- The development of nuclear power.
- The introduction of credit cards.
- There is a ship in the ocean off of Empire Bay that resembles the RMS Titanic. The ship was on her maiden voyage to New York City when it sank in the Atlantic Ocean in 1912.
- A cut location from Joe's Adventures known as the Printery shows a newspaper being printed that references the Spanish–American War Battle of Manila Bay, which took place in May of 1898.
- Multiple news reports on the 1950 study of the dangers of smoking can be heard in the 1951 segment of the game.
- The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are mentioned in news report about the implementation of nuclear energy as a power source.
- A news report mentions the Treaty of San Francisco, which marked the end of Allied occupation of Japan after WWII on September 8, 1951.
- A news report mentions a new counting device known as a computer that will be used by the U.S. Census Bureau.
- A news report mentions the invention of the hydrogen bomb by the U.S. government.
- On the side of both the Clemente & Co. Fresh Meat and the SeaGift Fishing Co. trucks there is a city named Brno listed. Brno is a city in the Czech Republic where 2K Czech was headquartered.
- The Wanted Posters found throughout Empire Bay feature names and pictures of 2K staff members.
- A book can be found in the Scaletta Apartment entitled "Attack From Black Morass" by author Robul Ynrec. Black Morass is a location in World of Warcraft, and Robul Ynrec is the backward spelling of Lubor Cerny, the 2K Czech employee found on Wanted Poster 59.
- A considerable portion of the Mafia II Soundtrack is anachronistic to the time period in which they are played. While about 20 of the songs from the 1945 segment of the game came out later, nearly all of the 1951 songs were released much later in the 1950s or 1960s, with some as late as 1964.
- A news spot from the 1951 segment reports on the introduction of drive-through and take-out restaurants, both of which are out of place for the time. Take-out, or food prepared to be eaten elsewhere, dates back as far or further than restaurants themselves. As for drive-thru's, they would not begin to appear in the U.S. until the mid 1970s. What would have been coming into fashion at the time were drive-in restaurants, where customers would park their cars and a waitress, or "carhop", would serve them while they sat in their cars.
- The news report on the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the 1951 segment of the game did not take place until June of 1953.
- The presidential campaign between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson is anachronistic to 1951 due to neither candidate having announced their intentions to run, or won their respective primary election until 1952.
- The appearance of Playboy Magazines in Mafia II is anocronistic due to the magazine not being founded until 1953. The images appearing in the game range in date from 1953 to 2007.
- A Press Radio News report mistakenly states that God Save the Queen is the British national anthem. Great Britain was under the rule of King George VI until 1952, making the anthem "God Save the King" at the time the game takes place.
- Pop culture references are ideas that relate to specific real world pop culture, music, television shows, or movies that are mentioned or inserted into the game.
- Historical references are mentions of real world historical events mentioned in the game.
- Easter eggs are items or messages hidden in the game that reference past Mafia games, other works known to fans of the series, or items related to the game's developers.