When Mafia was first released on the PC a couple of years ago, it became a big hit. It had an excellent story, some great cinematic action and some superb graphics for its time.
Mafia brings the 1930’s underworld to life in this 3rd person 3D action game. Rise from the lowly but well-dressed footsoldier to the envied and feared Made Man in an era of big bands, zoot suits and Model T’s. Take on the role of a hitman, enforcer, getaway driver and more in your struggle for respect, money and power within the Salieri Family.
You choose a life with the Salieri family and the cops and feds will be the least of your problems. Expect a hail of bullets from a Tommy gun or a shotgun in the face over linguine.
The city of Lost Heaven is at war as the Salieri and Morello mobs fight to control the lucrative protection rackets, smuggling and the women of Lost Heaven. Join the Mob – you’ve got no choice, unless you think choosing death is a smart move! Mafia grabs you by the lapels and plunges you into the middle of a vicious and deadly turf war. The cops, the feds, the Morello family – each of them are out to get you and none of them care how they take you down.
It has taken Mafia an age to come out on the consoles, not quite as long as the original game took to get released onto the PC though. As I mentioned earlier, in 2002 the game turned out to be one of the best games released that year, it was kind of like an early era Grand Theft Auto title, fully story driven that had some fantastic action sequences and some realistic, but sometimes dull driving sequences. So 2 years after the PC release it has hit the Xbox, and while most of the game remains the same, it does have a more dated feel along with some much longer load times due to city sizes.
The game revolves around you, Tommy Angelo, you begin the game as a taxi driver, but during a slow evening you manage to get involved with a Mafia mob who are on the run from a crime and need a getaway vehicle. After helping those guys out, you end up getting even more involved with them and in the end become a member of the mafia.
The game takes part in massive city, people are driving around, walking around and generally going about their business just like they do in the Grand Theft Auto titles. You can take control of various cars in the game, either from carjacking or using a car from the garage. You can also get out of your car and walk around on foot if you would prefer it (You have to for most missions). Now as I have mentioned before, most of the game features driving, this would be fine if it wasn't for the fact that driving in the game is not a great deal of fun. Cars are slow, don't brake well etc, all fine as it's showing how the cars may have reacted back then, but it doesn't make for fun game driving.
One of the main problems is the dull feeling when driving around, this is mostly due to the graphics though as on the Xbox, the textures seem far too blurry and don't have much detail to them, building popup a lot more often and those buildings themselves generally look ugly. There are also other bad points of note too, most missions rely on you driving from one side of the city to another, this wasn't too bad on the PC, but here on the Xbox there are points where you have to load up the other side of the city, it breaks up the atmosphere that was so prominent in the PC version.
It isn't all bad though, the missions themselves have not suffered too much compared to the PC version, walking around is just as good as it was, but the controls are nowhere near as good as they could be. When you are on foot, you are playing the game in third person shooter mode. The controls tend to be your basic Xbox first person controls, but with a few silly exceptions. The black and white buttons are used to aim towards any enemies who are coming at you, this wouldn't be so bad except that as most of us know, the positioning of the black and white buttons are not perfect. The game also has a lack of rolling, something that was in the PC version, and helps when it hard situations. The indoor sections of the game tends to have a much better feel to them than many of the outdoor ones thanks to far more detailed surroundings.
Mafia does have a lot of things going for it though, despite all this, it has an excellent story, lots of missions (20 in all) and these missions are big. Once the game has gotten past the really boring driving missions that happen early on, the game does get better and better.
Graphics & Sound
Graphically Mafia has not held up so well when you compare it to the PC version even today. The excellent cutscenes that were throughout the PC version are now recorded into video scenes, and it doesn't look as pretty. The look of the game remains close to the PC version in general terms, but the lower quality textures and lower frame rate doesn't do it any favors. The animations are still just as good, and the indoor sections are really well detailed.
The voice acting is just as good as it was on the PC version (which wasn't given the credit it should have been) and all of the sounds are the same too.
Overall if you have not played the PC version then there is an excellent story to be had here, the game's atmosphere has not held up as well as it could have done though, especially when it comes to load times and the game's graphics.