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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action Adventure

 

Publisher

Gathering of Developers

 

Developer

Illusion Softworks

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2004

 

 

- The classic PC game is finally on the Xbox

- Engaging story that is worth the ride

- Excellent soundtrack and music

- Delivers an accurate representation of the 1930s

 

 

- Common bugs and glitches

- Voice acting sounds dry

- Framerate issues and frequent loading screens

- Graphics have been toned done

 

 

Review: Mafia (PC)

Review: GTA - Double Pack (XB)

Review: Max Payne 2 - The Fall of Max Payne (XB)

 

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Mafia

Score: 6.7 / 10

 

mafia xbox review          mafia xbox review

 

Iíll make you an offer you canít refuse: Either read through this review before buying this game or go ahead and buy it without any prior knowledge. See, I knew you wouldnít be able to refuse. Before running out and spending your hard earned dough on Mafia find out why this isnít Grand Theft Auto with pasta.

Mafia was released almost two years ago on the PC, became somewhat of a hit and at first glance Mafia on Xbox is almost identical to the PC counterpart. From the

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menus to the actual story, much has been kept intact.

The story centers on Tommy Angelo, an unlucky cab driver suffering the effects of the Depression, who is confronted with two mysterious men that are in desperate need of a ride. After driving them to safety he realizes that the two men were the part of a mafia family run by Don

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Salieri. From the opening cutscene youíll notice the story is told in the past tense. Tommy narrates the story as he tells it to a detective. Mafia carries one of the most intriguing and in-depth stories I have ever seen in a video game. It is well-written, easy to follow, and most importantly, appealing.

On the PC Mafia was one of the best-looking games found on store shelves at the time but on Xbox... the graphics have been toned down immensely to the point where the cars donít have any real-time reflections. The substantial cutback was necessary in order to keep the world of Lost Heaven intact. The pedestrians, hundreds of cars, and ambient sounds have all been cut down in order to make for a smoother experience, which happens most of the time. Buildings take the most heat in comparison to the PC. The buildings appear out of nowhere in the distance whereas in the PC version they would gradually fill the screen as you get closer. Add that to poor textures and a bland atmosphere and you have a mostly dull looking experience.

Driving controls have been translated well. Turning, braking, and accelerating remain the same from the PC version and handles with great ease. The busy streets and crowded sidewalks donít affect the framerate at all except in two situations: rain and nighttime. During those atmospheric stages getting through the mission becomes frustrating. This was never an issue in the PC version and seeing it plague the Xbox, after almost two years, is inexcusable.

This technical gaffe is not the first and last technical gaffe you run into. Among the framerate are odd glitches that I experienced only minutes into the game. In one instance a cop pulled me over and suddenly his car was on top of mine; as if they were meshed together. When I tried getting back into the car it simply would not move. The only way I could get out of the situation was to restart the game.

Youíll get to know dull and droning familiarity within the first few missions, which have you driving endlessly completing errands. In one mission you drive around the entire city working as a taxi diver. In the PC version the slow start of continually driving around wasnít as unbearable to due the excellent graphics and sound. However on the Xbox, with the toned down graphics and poor quality transfer of music, these missions feel as if they take longer than they should. Once the first few missions are over, you get to finally walk around and engage in combat.

To add to the list of translation woes is the control (excepting the driving portions). The controls on the Xbox are, surprisingly, worse than the PC. For one, targeting has been changed and various moves have been compressed to a combination of buttons. When shooting a target you have to waste at least four or five bullets in order to take him out. The poor targeting system, which lines up the enemy helps to some extent, but is still a bother. Turning around and trying to target someone quickly is done stiffly because of the analog and frustrating to accomplish. In the PC version getting into shootouts was quite fun and exhilarating but the Xbox version makes it feel like a chore.

 

mafia xbox review           mafia xbox review


The sound of Mafia is great! The soundtrack is filled with authentic 1930s music from real artists and jazz bands of that era. The vehicle noises are on the same level as the music with lifelike engine crackles and rumbles. Pedestrians are also given some sound bytes that are heard in situations where you drive your car onto the sidewalk or ďaccidentallyĒ misfire your weapon. The voice acting, on the other hand, isnít up to par. (Not to worry, this was also an issue in the PC version.) The main character, Tommy, seems to have the same emotional response while driving the car or starring down the barrel of a gun.

Once finished with the game, which should take more than 25 hours (or thereabouts), there are other features at your disposal; most of which are essentially driving around town and doing what you please ŗ la Grand Theft Auto.

Mafia was a game-of-the-year candidate for the PC but is only a decent title for the Xbox. The same features, story, and style of the era survive the port, although the graphics, gameplay, and sound are roughed up.

- Eric Lahiji
(March 29, 2004)

 

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