Review by Curtis_Mayfield
"Were not in Vice city any more!"
Once you load the intro movie theirs one thing every one can agree on, Were not in Vice City any more. Mafia is defiantly not what you would expect a GTA-clone (I hate that term but that's what we use to call them) and in this case its a good thing, I mean I have no problem with taking a popular idea and formulating your own idea around it but when you try and copy it almost note for note is were I draw the line. Now on to the review
This has to be one of the most enveloping and detailed stories for a video game in a long time, I mean it's almost as if your in a movie. Now for those who don't know this game takes place during the depths of the Great Depression and the High of Prohibition. Now I don't want to give away the whole story for those who have yet to play it (you know who you are) but hears the skinny. You play as Thomas Angelo who struggling cab driver but after being hijack by two Mafia thugs after they crash while fleeing form some other thugs and is then pulled into the life of a Mafia Enforcer. The game chronicles his rise and fall as he tell his story to a detective in order to secure protection for him and his family. I won't spoil the ending (because it is amazingly epic) but its a fitting ending to such a magnificent story.
Game play 8/10
Now this is were I've seen most people gripe about the game for not being like GTA, but was that Illusions goal when making this game? I think not. As I said you play as Thomas Angelo (Tommy for short) and relive key event in his life as a high ranking Mob enforcer in the Salieri family. Now the game is liner but this is explained by the way the story is presented as a recollection of an event or "job" now that isn't to say that you are forced into a little area and dropped off at your destination, quite the contrary you are in a sprawling urban metropolis that is surrounded by a equally large rural area (their are a hand full of mission set out their so it does serve a purpose) and you are often required to get a car. Which mean you go out back and talk to Ralph and he shows you how to steal the car and then gives you the car (is important in Free ride) and you then drive to your destination. One more thing before I continue, you unlock more cars as time progresses like in 1930 you'll only be taught to steal certain cars but in 1932 you'll be taught to steal more and so on. It' s basically a way to make you play story mode before Free ride (more on that latter) but it doesn't Hurt the game any. Now the as GTA like game their is a fair amount of missions that involve chases but as long as you treat you 36 V8 coupe like a 36 V8 coupe and not a Ferrari you'll do fine. Though that isn't to say all the missions are fun their are two (the second one as a matter of fact) that are universally hated. The first involves you the day after helping Salieri's men and you have to fulfill your duties as a cab driver. Now that wouldn't be so bad if you only had to drive 2 or 3 people around but you drive about 7 people all over the place which seeing that Lost Heaven is almost Double the size of what Vice City was it drags on, and the second if the racing mission which is impossible to beat unless you install a patch or use the shortcut cheat to beat. With that said the story mode is fun and challenging and despite the crappies of the two mentioned missions it's well worth the 20+ hours it takes to complete.
Now from story mode lets go to Free ride which is basically were you can steal all the cars that Ralph has tough you to steal (see it's important) . This mode is a little difficult to describe but if you ever played the getaway (yeah remember that game) is basically the open ended part of the game, so most of the cars that have be come available by playing the story mode are available to be stolen and driven in Free Ride (theirs a mod to fix this). Now their isn't a garage to save your cars in Free ride (unless you play Free Ride Extreme) but their are numerous "safe" parking lots were you can park them after saving. Now their isn't to much to free ride aside from jacking cars, buying guns, and killing mobsters for some cash to buy guns and ammo. It's a little disappointing that you can't go in any of the buildings you entered in story mode but what ever. Overall its a nice mode but just feels incomplete.
All right Free Ride Extreme, Ill keep this short. Is basically free ride but the cars that aren't unlocked in free ride show up ion hear and you have a house and a garage to save your cars and you can do humorous little mini quests. I don't know why they didn't combine this with free ride, it would have made them both a lot better and would have greatly added to the replay value.
This games graphics are phenomenal especially given the time the game was made (late 2001-2002) especially when compared to its compared competition *cough* Vice City *cough* though it does go for a more realistic angle than VC it still holds up better 7 years latter. The cars are beautifully rendered and detailed with tires going flat and even being able to be broken off the axle. The city is also very well detailed with high quality textures and models. Now the main gripe with the graphics are the Character models, now that isn't to say that they look out of place or sloppy. Faces are wonderfully detailed and animated looking life like and Solid, no the problem is with the body's the clothing textures don't quite meet the standard of every thing else and they all have the old school club hands (fingers are fixed in one position and don't move) but you can't have every thing.
Sound and Music 9/10
The voice work is excellent, clean and crisp are the two words I would use to describe the voice overs and the actors convey the correct emotions for every situation and the voices fit the characters to a T, Not much else to say so on to the Music, first off I'm not a fan of most Swing Era music in fact I detest most it, but given the games time period I new it was going to be full of it and I prepared for the worst. I was presently surprised they actually found some good period artist to use as well as made their own orchestral themes, now while I wouldn't go out and buy the recordings of these artist it does lend the game a feel of authenticity to the game. Now aside from that god awful Lake of Fire hip-hop ( I hate that stuff more than Swing) garbage they play during the credits I found the sound track to be enjoyable.
Replay Value 7/10
As stated the Free Ride and Free Ride Extreme modes really should have been one mode as apposed to two separate ones, but whats done is done. Plus if you liked a particular mission ore part of one you can go back and play them buy selecting the mission in the Story Mode menu.
As I said Mafia has it's flaws but so does Grand Theft Auto or any other game for that matter and overall this game is an amazing amount of fun and If you haven't played it you really should, it takes a relatively over used premise and makes it feel new by placing it in an far of era (did you live in the 30's, didn't think so) of under ground empires and illegal booze and make it palatable to the modern gamer with out boring them to death.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/26/09
Game Release: Mafia (US, 08/27/02)
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