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July 12, 2004
Mafia - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
14/2/2004Take TwoIllusion Softworks1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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One of the building interiors.
Mafia isn't a new game by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed it has been available on PC since August 2002, almost a year and a half prior to the PS2 versions release in Australia. One would expect that in that amount of time the developer, Illusion Softworks, would be able to ensure the highest quality conversion. Sadly, that isn't the case as this title has several issues that hold it back from being the perfect, or even good, gangster title. But more on the problems later, there are still many good features including the storyline.

You play the role of Tommy Angelo, a cab driver in 1930's. One night he gets caught in the crossfire of a mafia war and ends up picking up two gangsters trying to escape from a rival gang. Soon enough Tommy gets drawn into the Mafia underworld where he becomes friends with Paulie and Sam. As time progresses the work becomes more brutal, and Tommy becomes more disillusioned with his life.

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A bloody cut-scene.
Gameplay has two elements the driving, and on foot action. Let's first look at the driving in the game which is where much of the early game takes place as you drive members of the mafia family around the city - naturally you have to avoid rivals as well as the police. Mafia includes approximately 60 different cars to drive around the city, of which Illusion Softworks have re-created around 12 square miles. The cars use a realistic physics engine incorporating over 100 different parameters to make the vehicles as realistic to real life as possible. While it is great fun to tear through the streets at 60mph, these cars have quite different handling to cars in many other games - and will take some getting used to.

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Watch out for the cars!
The on-foot action is the second main gameplay element. It's fair to say that this is quite enjoyable, not as much as some games, but certainly no slouch either. The game include 12 realistic weapons including Baseball Bats, shotguns, Magnums and the Tommy Gun. The aiming in the game is tricky, but this is further compounded by a poor frame rate during the levels.

The game does have some big problem which detract from the gameplay. The first is the lengthy load times as you move from one part of the city to another. We're not talking a couple of seconds, more like thirty or so. Surely if a game such as Jak II can have absolutely no loading during the game then so could this! I also wasn't keen on the cops who are too keen to enforce the law. Speed a little bit in the car and you can guarantee that a cop will be on your tail in a flash. Also disappointing is the lack of mini-games, side quests or even locations to explore. In such a sprawling city, and after playing so many other games it is such a disappointment that this game is so linear. Hell, even in the time since the PC games release the developers could have re-worked the game a little to add some more.

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Carnage in the garage.
Graphically Mafia is one of those games which both impresses, and yet fails to impress. It's clear to see that Illusion Softworks have captured the essence of the 1930's perfectly. The cars are all wonderfully detailed and look spectacular while the buildings all look authentic. However it's the characters that bring this game to life, all in authentic clothing and wonderfully motion captured for the game. Finally the cut-scenes tell the story well and have a wonderful life to the. So that's the part that impresses.

What doesn't impress is the very poor draw distance and pop-up which, when driving around the city is quite noticeable. Fortunately this doesn't occur indoors - obviously due to the small settings. The frame rate also struggles at times which is a little disappointing given the low detail levels at times.

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Smashing up the car!
Sound in Mafia has been made authentic by the inclusion of dozens of musical pieces of the period - mostly jazz or instrumental - and it sounds terrific. The voice acting, while not the best ever heard, is good enough while the sound effects, particularly the weapons are fantastic. Overall the sound presentation is quite good.

Mafia is a game that should be a lot better then it is. Everything is in place, great story, good gameplay, solid graphics and sound however the game disappoints with poor graphics, a lack of side quests, and far too many loading points. I did play the original PC game when it came out and to be honest if you have a PC you should look at that game, it's much better. Having said that if you're after some 1930's gangster action then this may keep you happy.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSIt's OK, but certainly not going to win any awards, bad draw-in.
SOUNDVoice acting is quite good as is the music, effects are adequate.
GAMEPLAYThe load screens really interrupt the game, playing is quite fun.
VALUEPretty much linear in missions, and doubtful you'll play through twice.
OVERALLMafia really was a title that I enjoyed playing on the PC, on the PS2 it was no where near as nice to look at, or fun to play. Only recommended for those without a good PC, or those looking for gangster styled action.

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