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Score: 6.7 / 10
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
menus to the actual story, much has been kept
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
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
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.
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.