Review by Fila

"My gun wants to talk to you... it has some business it wishes to settle"

After playing GTA3 I heard about this game. But what I heard was that it was supposed to in the same style. So after grabbing the game I proceeded on installing it. Boy that really took awhile. The game is 3CD’s and the install also takes long. No wonder since it installs almost 2 gig on your HDD. However I have patience when it comes down to installing software so that didn’t bother me.

After finally installing I toyed around the setup.exe file and cancelled the “Disable EAX” option. Let this be a warning… DO DISABLE EAX if you have crappy performance while using EAX. I had in-game settings at low and I still have occasional freezes. Reading on the net while I searched for some solutions, I took off EAX and now I am playing the game with full details and almost no freeze!

You are Tommy, a honest cab driver and nothing more. One night you decided the take a break and smoke a cigarette, without knowing that this was to be the night that will change your life.
In the neighborhood a car chase started between the two mafia families. The Morello family wins the chase and almost kills it’s enemies. Hearing the shots Tommy cannot stop his feeling of curiosity and wants to go around the corner to see what happened. The gang members that were shot see you and threaten you with the gun in order to drive them away from the place. And this is where the human player already begins. The game starts off with a car chase in which you need to loose the tail and bringing the mafia members back home.

The action takes place during 1932-1938, when mafia were making public assassinations in order to show their power. This game being a realistic ones offers you guns and cars from that period. So in the campaign mode you won’t have cars with amazing speeds. Most of them barely make it to 80mph. The damage is very good applied. Also if you crash your car, it is going to loose speed more and more and the handling gets affected. The biggest way to mess up a car’s handling is to shoot it’s tires. If you shoot all four of them the cars handling is very seriously affected. So seriously that you should think about stepping out and stealing a brand new one. In the car chases the tails shoot after you and if you are unlucky to have your traction on the rear tires and both of them to be shot well you shouldn’t take the turns very optimistically.

The detail of the game is big (does my phrase sound correct?). That is if you can run the settings from medium starting. You can see bullet holes in your car if someone hits it. When it rains the pedestrians use umbrellas and they also get out of the way in time if you can bother yourself to sound the horn. The smoke is very well done (the cigar smoke really made me stare at it in amazement). Lightning and reflection on the same high quality level as the rest of the graphics. Although the car shininess is big it won’t reflect you if you stand near or right next to it L (just like in Gran Turismo 3). Also there is public transport in the game if you are interested. Ah yes, I forgot to talk about my favorite feature: You can shoot and kill someone that is in the car. Yup, unlike GTA3 if your aim is good enough with 2-3 shots you can take the person down and if he was driving at the time the car will still continue to run until it hits something. Fuel is another feature not to forget. It is basically harmless with the cars that you start from your own garage (since they start fully loaded) but if you steal a car the fuel lever is varied. I once stole a car and after 5 corners I was out of fuel while being chased by police (imagine the luck). So there are gas stations in the city where you refuel and again pay with imaginary money (actually… you don’t pay). You cannot steal every car you like at start. This people lock their cars and you need to learn how to unlock them. During the game you will learn to unlock them mission by mission. Some people drive around with the cars locked and some with the cars unlocked (because I was able to steal a car and after I trashed it I tried stealing another exact model and I wasn’t able to).

Now let’s talk about the cops. There is a cop that walks around and there are the cops in cars. I personally ignore the ones that walk around and simply speed up since they can’t do anything. But with the ones in the cars it’s another story. If they catch you speeding you can immediately brake and get out of the car and you will simply receive a fine that you pay (with imaginary money I assume). If you continue driving they will arrest you if they catch you. When they stop you and throw you out of the car you are not busted, you can still run away on foot.
When you are out of the cops view range you can change vehicles and they will loose you. An image about a confused cop will appear and with patience (and no law breaking) they will forget you. The game comes with a speed limiter too if you want to drive around the city safe (but it starts to be boring when you need to go from one side of the city to the other).

The AI of the game is above mediocre. It’s not bad and not good. For example I was waiting near some steps for the bad guys to come. They climbed up the stairs, I shot them but not killed them and they still didn’t turned around. Then they walked around the room with me shooting them and simply ignoring me. I got confused and thought he was a friend so I walked next to him. He looked at me, I looked at him, he turned, I looked at him, he then looked at me again I continued to look at him and then all of a sudden he starts shooting. It was like he had a revelation.

There are a number of weapons in the game: 4-5 pistols, 2 shotguns, 1 thompson, 1 rifle, 1 sniper rifle, grenades, Molotov cocktail, knife, baseball bat and… punches (if you consider them a weapon). I don’t think there are more… but don’t quote me on that. The best weapon in my opinion is the Thompson. If you learn to shoot one or two bullets it can take down enemies real quick from no matter what distance (some distances are too far though for any weapon besides sniper rifle). And of course in a close encounter you can just let the bullets fly and you will kill him in no time. Unless he has a shotgun and your reflexes are slow… then you are dead.

Now this is where the game differs from GTA3 a lot. The engine that gives power to the game (LS3D) is able to render great outdoors and indoors. But you will have to wait for the load to finish (and when you progress into the game the load time gets longer and longer). So you will have to battle inside buildings also. The interiors are also decorated with amazing graphic.

The game also offers you “Free Ride” and “Free Ride Extreme”. Free Ride is basically the version more inclined in the GTA3 fashion. You just do what you want. But I didn’t got the same feeling to kill everyone like in GTA.

Graphics – 10
Well they aren’t perfect, there still are some alignment problems in some areas but they impressed me so much that I am giving them a 10. And I am not talking just about the textures I am talking about everything. The way the head is rendered is amazing. In some scenes it can even look real.

Sound – 9
Sound is good, very good. The music, well there aren’t any radio stations and there is just one theme music for every area (Chinatown, little Italy and so on). On my computer the music occasionally started to “drag”, like I was listening to it in 5fps. The solution to this was to press ECP and then resume back. Because the songs are just one for each area it gets repetitive but, at least in my case, they didn’t annoyed me. I was so hooked on the action that I simply didn’t even noticed it (I do love the Chinatown song).

Replay Ability – 7
Free Ride will make you still play but it doesn’t bring the same feeling as GTA3 does (in my opinion of course).

Story – 8
Great Mafia story.

Overall – 9

P.S. The last level… well it amazed me the most form the graphics point of view.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/08/02, Updated 09/08/02

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