Version tested: PlayStation 2
"Let me tell, youse guys, it ain't easy being a freakin' gangster game. One minute you're riding high on the power of a cultural zeitgeist, the next you're lying face down in a bargain bucket in some two-bit games shop with nothing but a 'Buy 2 Get 1 Free' tag to identify you. Sometimes that's the least of your freakin' problems. Like what happened to my old pal Joey 'The Getaway' Pompeii. After they'd massacred him in the press, the boys opened him up and gutted his freakin' manual. They had to bury him at the back of the second-hand rack. Those godless sons of painted freakin' ladies."
Made Man, as if you hadn't guessed already, is a Mafia game. It's also a game that, given the amount of half-stirred influences chucked into its simmering cauldron, should have come packaged with a large wooden spoon to stir it properly. These chunks of inspiration aren't, for instance, the sublimely metered concerns of respect and revenge that make up The Godfather (the film not the disappointing game). Hell, no. They're the banal under-cooked, over-excessive cliches of Tarantino and Scorcese-esque violence, with none of the ugly beauty or directorial intelligence of either.
"I'll tell youse a little bit about myself. I'm a freakin' soldier for the Giocomedio family, working in the shadow of my elders, Johnny 'The Headhunter' Gazpacho and Frankie 'The Dead To Rights' Sekonda. Together we're running this huge scam, profiteering from the exploitation of people's expectations. See, people are so freakin' in love of our cheap knockoffs of ultraviolence that they'll turn a freakin' blind eye to the actual quality of the merchandise. That's why we've gotten away with it for so long, no matter how the freakin' authorities react to it. And if someone should freakin' complain, let me freakin' tell you, they'll soon be sitting on the bottom of the riverbed in a pair of concrete press quotes."
In stealing its ideas from a long lineage of third person shooters, Made Man doesn't offer anything new. Its main gimmick is a means to duck behind cover and pop out quickly to fire a few rounds at the enemy, a feature both seen in countless games before and currently wowing the 360 masses in the manly Gears of War. Although having said that, it wouldn't be fair to compare the pensionable PS2 to the next-gen console, so instead we should mention specifics. As in the common problem of having a guy lined up dead in your sights when behind cover yet inexplicably firing at some invisible corner of your hiding place when you jump out to shoot. You know, that one where the camera angle seems a bit unwieldy. Yeah, that one.
"Recently we've formed a uneasy freakin' alliance with the Cloneonis, an outfit jointly run by its two bosses Paulie "The True Crime" Bugatti and Tony "The Driv3r" Vespa. Their chief means of business is counterfeiting. They'll steal an acclaimed idea, paint over it so it's not legally recognisable and sell it like it's their own. They also have a successful line in car theft and gun-running, and all they've ever served is a six-month sentence for bad-rep. Can you freakin' believe that?
"I on the other hand, find that ambitious stuff far too freakin' risky. Instead I am entirely focused on my own freakin' goal, to the detriment of not caring about anything but the freakin' mission. And that goal involves murdering everybody that gets in my way until I can get through the next door."
It does, mercifully, claw some points back for its attempt at variety. If you ignore the banal Cosa Nostra clichés in the plot, there's at least an effort made to inject some semblance of diversity in the environments. That includes a slightly incongruous decision to go to Vietnam for a couple of levels in which you have to put your army hat on and blast through the VC, all the while wondering exactly where this is going (something to do with gold, I gather). Don't worry, though, it's the same kind of blasting you'll be doing throughout the whole game. Indeed, it just about manages to be interesting enough to let it lift its head above the poor attempts at stealth, and the rogue AI that can sometimes see the bad guys either shooting at nothing or blowing themselves up.
"But ultimately, in this line of work, if you're not freakin' careful, you're going to get whacked. I had betrayed the family by asking for too much, and now they'd put a contract out for Mickey "The kill.switch" Biscotti to silence me. I mean, I had learned great freakin' things from that game: the focused attitude, the one-track mind. But I'd been a fool, put too much on my plate, and got sloppy. And the price I had to pay was to get blasted by one of my mentors like a fat man after one too many lasagnes. In a freakin' fireworks factory.
A mark of the tolerable, then. Playable within its faulty parameters, yet at the same time, something we've seen a million times before, and in many ways better. Roll on the next one, please.
"My only hope is to turn stool pigeon. Confess to the feds that I'm not actually as good as I think I am and live the rest of my freakin' days in the protective lower shelf anonymity of freakin' game shop suburbia. That's a kind of hell to me. I ain't kidding ya, even the most ambitious man can turn into a schmuck when your number's up. And where does that get you? You ain't even nothing."
5 / 10