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PS2 Reviews: Mafia


Mafia screenshots


The Final Say!


reviewed by Tory Favro 
Review Date: March 2004
Review Score 7/10 
Distributed By: Take2 Interactive

"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."

Mafia is the blockbuster PC title brought to life on the Playstation 2 after about two years from it's original release. The game at the time was a hit as far as I was concerned and many other gamers felt the same way as me from the feedback I got.

Look I've gotta say it, you ARE going to draw comparisons to GTAIII and they are totally and utterly justified. Anything you can think of for that title is in this one, which is not a bad thing however considering who made the game renders the ideas a little obselete. The game looks very similar and plays very similar to the GTA title and I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about it when I think about it in those terms.

Even the rags to riches storyline is very similar to GTA where you start off as the lowest of the low and make your way up the food. The games level design does give the impression that you can go anywhere and do anything, however the way that the game is designed there really is no point to doing this as the cars aren't that much fun to drive outside of the bounds of missions. They handle exactly the way that you would imagine with poor steering, braking and everything else associated with the vehicles of the 1930's era.

In this title you play the part of Thomas Angelo (Tommy Vercetti anyone?) who gets sucked up into the vice like grip of the mafia whilst working as a taxi driver in the fictitious town of Lost Heaven, very similar to the surrounds that you'd expect of New York or Boston of that same gangster infested period of time. Attention to detail is everywhere that you look and quite believable.

The way the story is cool and like a flashback of sorts as Thomas is telling the story after the event in exchange for protection from the mob. There are twists and turns throughout and I was of the impression that there was a genuine effort put into the story to be just as good and moving as the actual gameplay is. You will find yourself engrossed in all this despite the fact that some of the cutscenes are a little stilted and aged due to the amount of time that has passed from the PC to the PS2 port.

It's the port of this title that really gets this game into trouble with some sluggish controls and a quite annoying pop up problem with buildings and other items occasionally just appearing in front of you. It appears that the code hasn't been fully optimised to take advantage of what the PS2 has to offer and make the most of it. Possibly the other thing that is going to make people scream are the load times as they are pretty damn long.

The weapons used are of the era and gun nuts might be a bit disappointed at the lack of futurist weaponry. For the rest of us though, chances are you are going to be really happy with what's on offer in terms of authenticity and the way that those around you react when you've got your gat going on. Wandering around the streets with a baseball bat won't get the attention of the cops and there is a sort of wanted system like GTA where once you get enough speeding tickets you will then get the kind of looking at that will not be desirable.

Illusion Software who are behind this game have given the vehicle driving such a great physics engine that you are going to be more than happy with the end result of your efforts. Cars react just the way that you would expect them to. This may not make everyone happy however it's sticking true to the theme of the game that's important and if you don't feel like you are in prohibition era America then it would have been a waste of time.

Concealing weapons is public is also a must as I found to my dismay as the AI of this title is not slightly stupid and the police will react to you walking around with a gun in the street. They also will react to beat downs that you inflict to the public and crimes committed. There are a number of ways to get around the title too in both Racing and Free Ride modes. These exist out of the general story and are a way of scoring some extra dosh to fix up your own bad self and your ride.

Soundwise the game is a treat as well with very realistic effects that will suck you right in. This is a great soundtrack and even lookers on in the street will react with screams and cries that will make you feel even more reckless in your lumbering car! Weapons sounds are insane with the deep thumping boom of a shotgun always making you feel better about your job of killing. Music and the general atmosphere of the game will keep you rooted in the gameworld which is of course the intention, however it is something that many games do not get quite right.

All things said and done, this is a neat game that is ultimately flawed by a bad port of code to the mean lean black machine that is our PS2. Shoddy load times, some problems with controls and pop up mar what would have been a game that would have scored a lot higher had these problems and others not kept showing their ugly faces. And let's face it but despite those problems I am still happy to give it a score of 7/10 or 70%, however I'd leave your money in your wallet until you have the chance to either rent it or it goes down to $49.95 as with such a linear storyline and no real motivation to keep playing after you've finished story mode, Mafia might not be all that you've wanted out of a game in terms of replay value. Rent first and make your mind up for yourself.

- Tory Favro

Copyright 2004 www.impulsegamer.com