Still The Best GTA clone based on the Mafia, and still the best Mafia game outright, no game is as deserving of the title 'Mafia' as Mafia. The driving sections were awkward and clunky which might be attributed to the fact that cars at the time were awkward and clunky, and some missions were horribly unforgiving with cruelly placed checkpoints and spiking difficulty.
Everything else though, like the scripting, the plot, the style, the characters, the shootouts and the locations, and the set-pieces, oh, and the humour. And the action. That stuff is all excellent, almost perfect and carried off with such a sense of Hollywood authority that you'll be overcome with satisfaction from start to finish. It's got great era-specific music too, and the old cliche of being in a 'living, breathing city' is alive and well. For five pounds, this is an essential piece of PC gaming history worth owning. So what if that sounds like an infomercial? It's still true.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
You haven't lived until you've played this game because:
It's 2002 and Grand Theft Auto 3's been out for six months when Illusion Softworks show off their masterpiece. It's a perfect recreation of 1930s America, very admirable. What's more, you explore it all from the point of view of a cabbie who slowly turns into a Mafia goon as the game progresses.
It's got violence, history, varied missions, an enormous city to explore and production values that haven't been trumped. Vehicles are slow and handle badly (hence accurately), the streets feel alive and it's fiendishly tough. The story is well told (in flashback) and, if that bores you, there's two Free Ride inodes so you can just explore the authentic-looking city of Lost Heaven.
Add in excellent music, awesome cliaracterisation and animation, plus the fact that it plays and looks better than The Godfather which was released four years later, and you understand why it was so highly rated across the board.
People probably didn't play it because:
Illusion Softworks also made Hidden & Dangerous 2 and neither sold that well. As the relevant companies marketed the product well, we guess word-of-mouth didn't spread. They were tough, intelligent simulations, if their system specifications were a little high; perhaps the public just want something simpler? Or perhaps they were still playing GTA3? Finally, releasing the same month as Medieval: Total War and Max Payne might have been a bit unlucky. Stand-out moment of brilliance: Speeding. Give your hard-handling jalopy too much gas, run a red light or prang another car and the cops will chase you down relentlessly, just like real life. However, they won't shoot you for that; you'll just get a speeding ticket and a fine. If they spot a gun though...
The panel's views:
Will: "I love the music - there's no other game I've ever played that automatically just puts you so easily into the mood and setting. At first, I was bitching about getting stopped by the police for speeding etc, but then I just realised that it was all part of the game." Steve: "It's got fantastic voice-acting as well, and it still looks great even now. It just nails the whole 1920s thing - and the missions are really inventive. Like getting the Canadian whisky -going out into the countryside and having a shootout on a farm."
Better than Goodfellas. That's the film, not the pizzas.
Tonight, matthew, I'm going to be a gangster. I'm going to go back to the '30s, when the roads were clear, and I'm going to play the part of a taxi driver who gets caught up in the syndicate of an old-school mob family, then pussies out and decides he wants his family to be safe.
So, we start our story with a chat to a good-old Oirish New Yoik trench coated copper, cutting a deal. The policeman wants us to tell our story -and that's what the game is.
A few things make Mafia stand out. The soundtrack is as authentic as any GTA game, with Django Reinhardt's jazzy skidoodles guiding you around the streets. It's less commercial than a cross-promotional set of '80s themed CDs, but things were less commercial back then. The mini-map only tells you about traffic, if you want to know where you're going, you have to look at a map, which obscures your view. Like it would.
Also, the cars are slow. The opening mission can leave you stumped, until you realise that you can't outrun the other car - you have to nudge it into a pillar, and take advantage of their lousy manoeuvrability. By the time they've three-point turned out of their corner, you'll be well away.
Still, our hero is a good example of a hapless soul, whose road to hell was paved with self-doubt and good intentions. He's not a typical Rockstar ex-con protagonist, lie's an example of how good people can be tempted and that makes him more immediately sympathetic. Because none of us here are thieves. Now for information on how to steal this game, see "But how?"