Review by chance074
"If you ignore the loading times, this game is pretty fun."
Ahh, the Mafia. Is there anything more American to idolize? Well, perhaps baseball stars, but this isn't MLB 06 The Show. It's Mafia, an action game ported to the PS2 from the PC. Many people call this game a GTA clone, but it's pretty linear: About twenty or twenty-five numbered objective-based missions that take about twenty to thirty minutes at the low end and about an hour at the high end to beat (when you take out the loading times, of course). Still, it's set in the 1930's, it has decent controls, and there's driving, shooting, and, oh, let's just get to the review already.
It was the best of graphics; It was the worst of graphics. That's a pretty good summary of what this game looks like. The original PC game, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, had awesome graphics, but the PS2's limitations force them to downgrade. A lot. The cut-scenes look great, and the cars and character models are pretty well-done for the most part (a notch above GTA), and the game pretty much succeeds at creating a dark and seedy atmosphere (think: Portland in GTA3), but I have one word for you (or is it two?): pop-up. The pop-up in this game is just plain horrendous. You'll crash into fences that don't even appear until after you crashed into them. Everything looks pretty good, however. Still, the fact that you don't quite appreciate it's beauty as much after you crashed into the invisible graphics detracts from this score quite a bit, putting it at a mediocre 5/10.
I was never one who thought audio was one of the most important factors in a game, but I did love it in this game. The music was very 1930's, and gave it a feeling very conducive to the mood of this game. The SFX were fantastic, even though the engine sounds got annoying after a bit, and I especially have to compliment the guns. They sound incredibly realistic. The voice acting isn't quite superb, but it's definitely decent, putting this at a solid 4/5.
I really enjoyed the story in Mafia, involving a cab driver's accidental rise to the top of the Salieri crime family, with a whole cast of eccentric characters that rock. You'll enjoy it, too, but the modes in this game aren't all that awesome. The free roam in this game is incredibly boring, and the stupid cars and stuff you have to do tedious tasks to unlock just aren't worth it. By a long shot. Considering the story, this bounces its score up to a decent 8/10.
Well, I have no complaint with the controls. It's about what you'd expect for a sandbox hybrid shooter/driving game: While on foot, X is action, triangle is steal cars, RI is shoot/attack, R2 is auto-aim, and driving is X for acceleration, square for break, and triangle for reverse. The L1 speeder cap is a very nice little button, as you can get a ticket for speeding. Yes, this game does insist on being realistic. My only real complaint is that the handbrake is a bit awkwardly located at circle, but this is the same in a lot of other games, so perhaps it's just me, putting the score at a fantastic 5/5.
Well, let's start with driving. It's pretty fun in this game, and speeding away from people in hot pursuit of you is pretty cool, but then you figure out that apparently there are cops everywhere. So ubiquitous are they that you can't blow a red light, or even go above the speeding limit. (Officer, I swear, everyone else was doing it!). If I wanted to waste my time pulling over and letting a collection of pixels write me a ticket, I'd get my car and go outside and blow a stop sign or two. That, however, isn't the worst part: There are about a minute (doesn't sound long, but go ahead and count in your head to sixty--slowly--right now) loading times between the three relatively small islands that make up this game, and you travel between them a lot. It's not even as if this fixes the aforementioned pop-up or anything. Man, I am sick of that stupid loading screen.
On foot, however, this game really picks up. Whatever I'm doing--sneaking into enemy compounds, throwing molotovs (the poor man's grenade) at barrages of gangsters, destroying cars with baseball bats, or just good ole' Tommy Gun shootouts, it's fun. They should have focused a lot more on foot action--It's more fun, less realistic (even though you must holster your weapon in a public street, but this is more of a nice touch than an annoyance), and there's no pop-up or loading times, the two major flaws of the game. But there's a good amount of it, and, once you beat the game, you can go back to a mission select and replay your favorite moments of gun-on-gun action! This lifts the score up to an average 10/15.
Replay Value: 2/5
Well, the replay value isn't that bad, and, once you beat the game, you'll probably feel compelled to replay a few of your favorite missions, and maybe screw around in free roam and try to unlock a couple things (it'll get boring pretty quickly, though). There's a lot of potential replay value, put the fact that it's not that fun puts it at a sub-par 2/5.
In conclusion, this game ain't that bad, if you can get past it's glaring flaws-pop-up and loading times, and some more minor flaws like the over-realism. The foot action in this game just rules, and the driving can be cool at times, too. To recap, awesome story, and if you're into sandbox games, this is pretty cheap, especially online (about $5 with shipping on eBay), I'd pick this up if I were you.
Still, as always, I'll let you make up your own mind whether to buy, rent, ignore, etc.
Averaged Total: 34/50, or 6.8/10
Bottom Line: Once you get past the obnoxious pop-up and obscene loading times, Mafia can be a lot of fun, especially it's action sequences, cool story, and seedy 1930's atmosphere.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/12/06
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