The demo has gone live on Steam and I finally managed to get the game running after encountering a few minor problems. Thanks PhysX!
Some critics say that the first Mafia was merely a clone of the GTA III formula with an emphasis on story and atmosphere. And in a way, Mafia II feels more like a GTA IV knock-off than a successor to the first Mafia. Is that a good thing? Frankly I don't know.
What is there in the demo is extremely light. A bit of driving, the warehouse mission that was shown at E3 and a final getaway that ends in a cliffhanger. Exploring the small chunk of Empire Bay that 2K Czech included is limited by a 10 minute counter, which frankly feels like a joke. The 30 minute limit in the Just Cause 2 Demo made sense, as it gave you just enough time to familiarise yourself with the game world and have a bit of fun in it. But 10 minutes in Empire Bay? That's barely enough to enjoy the ride to the only mission in game.
There's a lot of activities in the Demo and it's a shame you can't properly enjoy them. Bars, Hot-Dog stands, stores to buy clothes and guns and a fine selection of period-inspired cars are scattered around the map, waiting for you to discover them.
It should come as no surprise that Mafia II feels very "consolified". World textures can be muddy, streets look somewhat naked without road markings, cars control unfavourably on the keyboard and the interface was clearly designed with a controller in mind. That said, after playing the demo once with KB+M and then the 360 Controller respectively, shooting is definitely superior with a mouse. The rest however, handles decidedly better once you grab a Controller. Driving, moving and interacting with the world feels slightly off with a keyboard. And sadly, there is no way to fire blindly. I really hope those things are fixed in the final product but I'm not holding my breath.
Still, I'll probably play the demo again and explore the little bits of Empire Bay contained within.