Review by FullBurst41

"One of the best games of all time, and I'm not kidding."

When I first heard about Mafia, it did look compelling, but not that different form games like GTA. That was a few years before the game was released. Little was heard about the project for some time, until it cruised towards us, visible through the rear view mirror. It quickly shattered the windows of the thing that is called Gaming...

Mafia was developed by a Czech developer, and in a sense that makes it all the more impressive. I don't know how much money the people of the team had to spend, but they sure invested it well.

First off, it is important to note that Mafia is a single-player only game. This should not detract that much from the game's awesome single-player game, as well as the extra modes. However, that must be one of the only gripes you could have with the game.

Speaking of the single-player game, it is quite astonishing. You are Thomas Angelo, Tommy, Tom... whatever you prefer. He's a cab driver, until things start going horribly wrong. From the opening scene of the game, you'll figure out that the game tells the story through a running conversation with a detectivE. You complete missions, as you unravel more and more of the plot (with interludes in between, showing you and the detective talking). I won't tell you more than that. Why? The story is what makes Mafia so exceptional. It's not the driving, it's not the great gun battles, it's not the great environments... but it's the story, and the way you're drawn into it.

This is due to several things:
- Great voice acting, all the way through, except for a few tiny details.
- Great graphics, it looks so real...
- Attention to detail in both the graphics and sound. When the person supplying you with weapons puts a gun down on the table, you'll hear it. When someone's drinking, you'll hear it: from the filling to the glass, to the actual drinking. This is also true of the graphics.
- The great writing behind the game: The story, in itself, is quite good. It keeps surprising the player, with good, believable dialog, and jobs and situations that ''feel right'' putting things in the '30s and the world of the mafia Dons.

The gameplay in itself is quite good aswell.Driving can be a little tedious at first, mainly because you start out with the worst cars... and remember, we're in the '30s. However, the driving's fun, even as it gets a bit irritating if you have to climb with one of those old hunks. The city feels real, and is fun to drive through. There are police officers patrolling around, enforcing the speed limit (this is not GTA, folks), and just because the police is behind you, doesn't mean you have to ditch them, or blow them up. If you drove too fast, or ignored lights, they will fine you. Only if you're carrying around weapons, or have actually killed someone will they arrest you. Once you get out of the center of town, you can sttart going a little faster though. Cops aren't patrolling as frequently, so that is an advantage.

Another cool thing in Lost Haven is the bridge. It sounds and looks great... but it's a pain to wait for it. Get a fast enough car, and you could try the jump... it won't do your car too much good though, but it's a fun test. The city is very varied, which is another plus, so it won't get boring fast.

As far as missions go, they are varied aswell, very varied. Most of them are full of surprises, and there are some very memorable moments. One of the most memorable of these for me was the church gun battle. I won't tell you how it came to be, but it's quite exciting. It's both challenging and exciting. The sound really shines here too. Echoes ini here are amazing, and work great.

And then there are the other game modes. Ther eis Free Ride, which is, as the name suggests, allows you to cruise through Lost Haven without worrying about missions.

Free Ride Extreme is a special mode which lets you steal cars for use in the Free Ride mode. This is quite neat, and adds some replay value to the game.

Except for the main missions in the single-player game, there are also side missions, which usually involve doing a special job, after which you can go pick up a car for storing in your garage.

Overall, this game is just a great piece of work. Although there is no multi-player, the single-player ocmponent of the game is so much better than most of the games out there. The atmosphere is amazing, the sounds, speech and music are fantastic, the graphics are rich and set the mood, and the gameplay is outstanding. What you get is, without a doubt, on eof the best games of all time, belonging in any gamer's collection, except if you hate the action genre, that is.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/30/03, Updated 04/30/03


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