Mafia Reader Review
Well, after finally playing through Mafia 2 and feeling completely let down I decided to play through the origional to lift my spirits so this is why I have decided to do a writeup.
Just what is is that made Mafia so special ? Was it the fact that the developers built a ten square mile city from scratch for you to explore, realistic cars from the prohibition period, fantastic visuals on the characters and cityscape or was it just great storytelling ?
Gathering Of Developers (GOD Games) created this wonderful vision of life in 1920's America all revolving round two opposing Mafioso families. To this day the game itself has only had three patches released for it which was literally just to keep the game up to date with new hardware and reduce the difficulty of that darned race! This tells you how much work actually went into play testing the game and the dedication of the team behind it, for once it was a game that didnt need keeping up to date every few weeks with a constant stream of patches unlike some of the more recent titles.
So after that small painless introduction what exactly is Mafia ? Closest thing to it has to be the GTA series of games crossed with Max Payne ! However the storytelling of Mafia far surpasses anything GTA can put you're way and is nowhere near as depressing as poor old Max ! You start out arriving in a traditional American diner to meet with an Irish police officer, here is where you find out that you are a high ranking member of the Salieri mafia family. Trouble is with the mafia once you are in you are in for life no matter what happens. At this point you start telling you're long story to the police officer to help him bring down the family so you can get out. This story spans over a period of time throughout your life from humble beginnings as a taxi driver to present standing. This is where play comes in, as you are telling the story you play out what is being said to the officer. Kind of like when you see an actor thinking back to times gone by in a movie.
To get around Mafias vast city you take the car (I will get back to the city in a moment), all the cars in Mafia have been recreated acurately from their time period right down to the way they handled and looked. You also have to abide to the law whilst driving, no speeding at all or you will end up getting the police chasing you and if you are carrying any firearms you get arrested and have to start again as save points can be few and far between.
To get back to the city the developers created ten square miles of maps and buildings, each area on the map is very different, for example if you head into Chinatown you see what would be expected right down to archways and traditional Chinese looking shops. Mafias city is split into three islands to make life a little easier, each area of the map has its own unique area instead of just the normal city streets, Hoboken itself has a mass transit system which can be used later in the game instead of using the car, you have the dockside area which is full of wagons moving cargo and the huge ship containers in the docks themselves. Of course to get around the game sucessfully you have to pull the map up onto the screen so you can check out roads etc.. You also have a small onscreen map with a pointer similar to driver to help you reach the destination desired.
Once you reach you're destination the game becomes a third person action adventure, this is where you can end up in some really fierce gunfights with Tommyguns and six shooters. One of the more dramatic shootouts I have to admit is the carpark scene where you are collecting a shipment of liquor. Unfortunately for you the opposing family arrives to spoil you're day and collect you're goods, its exactly what you see in the movies, big black cars arrive and the goons get out carrying shotguns and tommyguns dressed for the occasion in long coats and hats pulling the guns out from under the coats and all hell breaks loose. I have to admit some of the set pieces for the gunfights are superb, they have a very cinematic feel to them.
Visually the game is stunning, there is plenty detail and colour in the city textures and the character faces. If you have the game set at maximum detail and viewing distance you can see for miles over the water into other parts of the city. Only downside on these wonderful graphics is that the cutscenes you see when you are in the diner the textures on clothes can look a little fuzzy at times and not quite as sharp as they could be albeit the cutscenes are rendered by the game engine instead of just a recorded video which is always good to see.
Overall Mafia is a highly addictive and high quality game, you will find yourself tearing you're hair out at times after trying the same level a dozen times and wanting to quit but being drawn back in to have another shot at it, success at times can bring great relief and another save point ! From the humble start as a taxi driver to the final shootout in the museum you feel involved in this cinematic masterpiece. Feel every emotion the characters are going through right down to events happening and some of the key characters being killed and feeling gutted about it (Dont forget to watch to the end of the credits, theres a final cutscene)