Mafia Review

Developer: Illusion Softworks Publisher: Gathering
Release Date: March 8, 2004 Also On: PC, PS2 and Xbox

Mafia started out on the PC and did extremely well. Now, it is available on the Xbox, after first being ported to the PS2. Made and developed by Take-Two, this game takes GTA to the thirties era. You are Tommy Angelo and are basically forced to join up with the Salieri mob after you save two members from the opposing Morello mob. Tommy however is telling the story to a detective as you go through, so you will see everything that happened to him during his time in the mob and how he wants to send them all to jail. Is Mafia itself any good? Read on my friends.

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Visually, Mafia won’t blow you away. The cut scenes are beautifully rendered and the visual effects are top notch. During gameplay, things change. Even though the graphics aren’t that bad, there are some problems that need to be addressed. The character models aren’t that bad and some of the cars actually look really good. Many parts of the scenery however are squared instead of rounded. Take trees and light posts for example; they kind of have a square-like look to them. You can’t see that far ahead of you, since the game has to load up the foreground as you go. If these things were improved, Mafia would look excellent.

As in most games from Take-Two, the voice acting is superb. The narration by Tommy is fantastic and everyone seems as if they would be in the mob. The way they talk, what they say, all of this is excellent. Even though it doesn’t have big name actors portraying its characters, I say this is just about as good as GTA: VC in voice acting. The in-game music is virtually non-existent though. There is no radio, no driving music, nothing. This makes the driving part a little bit boring sometimes. The guns from the thirties sound just as they probably would have back in the day. From Colt-45’s to Tommy Guns, it’s all good.

Gameplay is what really makes Mafia an enjoyable game. The fighting system starts out a little hit or miss because you have a very poor handgun and you are just developing your aim as a mobster, but as time moves on in the game, things become easier. The driving physics are well done as well. The speeds and handling of these classic cars were well figured out for it being such a long time ago. During the game, even though it isn’t necessary, you should drive by the laws to not be stopped by the cops. What makes this game neat is that if you break a law, the cops will chase you, turn their sirens on and have you pulled over to pay a ticket. Break more extreme laws or not stopping for them will result in a chase. I also like the fact that there are turn signals that actually work on the cars. No other game delivers this realism factor.

The story is what really gives Mafia an edge over the competition. Tommy is a poor taxi driver that two members of the Salieri Mob run into as they are running from members of the Morello mob. You drive them to safety and then are offered a job with the organization. You said you would think about it, but then you are attacked by the Morello’s and forced to join up with the Salieri’s. You then go around as Salieri’s hit man, driver, or anything he wants you to do. After things go too far in the organization, you want out. That is why Tommy is telling this story to a detective, so he can protect his family and himself by testifying against the members in the mob. The story is well put together too. You will want to keep playing, just to see what will happen next. I think this probably has the best story in a game, ever.

There is so much to do in Mafia. The main game will keep you occupied for 10-15 hours and there is much to unlock in side missions while playing. There is a racing mode in which you will race against other cars around the city winning the driving championship. The free ride mode allows you to tear up the streets however you like by knocking off mobsters, testing out secret cars, driving taxis, or just going out for a jolly spin in the country-side of the map. This is one of the best games that I have played in a long time and it deserves just as much credit as the PC version received.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8.5
Written by Shawn Review Guide

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