By Sam Coles:
There are not many games that follow a story about the mafia, before you say GTA III you were not in in the mafia you were working for them in first half of the game. In 2003 a little game came out on the PC, PS2 and Xbox and that game is Mafia. It became a classic with its story telling with a twisting narrative and interesting characters despite its flaws it is still a fantastic game.
Mafia takes place in the 1930’s where Thomas Angelo is being interviewed by a federal agent where he is retelling the events of his line of work. Thomas starts off as a humble taxi driver when one lonely night when he is having a cigarette two men from a mafia family are being chased and they crash their car and asks him to lose their tail. He eventually loses them and they give him money as compensation for the damage of his taxi, they also offer him a position within the Salieri organisation but he respectfully refuses. The next day he is ambushed by the same goons who were chasing him the night before as they remembered his number plate. Thomas ends up going to Salieri’s bar where they attackers are then shot and killed and he ends up joining the family. The story has lots of twists and turns with plots of revenge and betrayal.
The gameplay is an open world but not in the traditional sense like Grand Theft Auto as there is this open to drive around but there is nothing to do in it, it is there to set up the narrative to make the game feel more believable. The game is very much on a linear path guiding you through the story, you’ll be doing your fair share of shooting and driving and it’s competent but a bit clunky in parts. The shooting is not bad but the aiming can feel a bit sensitive and sometimes you can’t tell if you’re hitting your target due to the lack of visual feedback. Driving is good but if you turn too much you will swerve out I guess to create a sense of realism, the wanted level system is more sensitive than GTA as the police will chase you for speeding and running red lights it adds an extra detail in the world.
The presentation is a dated these days and has not aged well with a poor draw distance with a fog effect to mask it coupled with the poor character models, but they do have more detail compared to the character models of GTA. Animation is stilted and characters never seem to blink if they do it’s not often and you’re left with these cold stares during cutscenes. Voice acting is very good for the most part but there are few bad lines where you can tell that some of the developers stepped in and did some of the work but the cast of main characters are well voiced.
Mafia is a flawed but great game which kick started a franchise with a release as recently as 2016 with mixed opinions. If you want to play the game that started it all then pick this game up its super cheap I picked up my copy for 99p in my local retro store so it won’t break the bank.