The wave of GTA 3 copycats was real and it led to some fantastic and not so fantastic gaming.
Size of Liberty City in GTA 3: 8.12 km²
Size of Lost Heaven in Mafia: Approximately 10.2 sq.km The game also features a countryside outside of the city. The total area of the countryside measures between 30 and 40 square kilometers (18.75-25 sq. miles)
Growing up with Scorsese films has been a blessing. Arguably the greatest and most influential director of all time, his films have spanned decades, genres and eras. But obviously his name is most closely associated with the Crime genre. More specifically, the Italian Crime Family subgenre because literally no one has ever or will ever do it better than Martin. The name, “Scorsese” is synonymous with Mafia.
I could literally write an entire post dedicated to Scorsese and eventually I probably will but this is just a quick nod to the man whose gigantic sphere of influence has not only influenced almost every director after him but video game developers as well.
2k’s Mafia series is no exception and it is glorious and cheesy for all the right reasons. The game is jam packed full of film references, Italian-American mob stereotypes and a lot of really old cars.
The game begins cinematically with protagonist, Tommy Angelo in a diner – across from an Irish detective. Tommy tells him he could give him the dirt on major crime boss, Don Salieri in exchange for protection. The detective implores him for more details and Tommy starts from the beginning as a cabbie during the prohibition era where he is inevitably roped into the crime syndicate.
One of the most important aspects of the Mafia series that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries was that as the plot lines progressed so did the time. As years go by the technology, cars and city around you changed. It’s a novel concept and it translates well.
This game takes place from during the late 20’s throughout the 1930’s and many of the cars the game features are really not fun to drive. Which is probably super realistic. I imagine most cars in the 30’s drove like shit. No power steering – shitty ass skinny wooden spoke wheels, garbage brakes, etc.
Once in awhile you do come across a car that drives really well and it’s a joy. I know this was intentional but it still sucks some of the fun from the experience as a whole. Most cars just suck so badly that when you play a game that features you driving a car 80% of the time – enjoying driving is important.
Speaking of driving another novel thing that 2K did with the Mafia series is traffic laws and it’s pretty hit or miss. For example if you speed in the city – a cop will light you up. Turn on its sirens and try to pull you over. But if you drive on the wrong side of the road as long as you’re following the speed limit you’re good. All-State drivers discount and all. So the A.I. is far from perfect. In fact, it’s far from great or even good for that matter.
If it wasn’t for your adversaries basically being bulletproof cyborgs the game would be simple. You would simply be able to run into a room, turn around and wait. As all the enemies in the area funnel through the door they’re easy pickings.
But the controls and shooting mechanics are just something that SO MANY of these style games struggled with during the time (including GTA) and Mafia is no exception. In fact, it’s honestly below average. It hurts the overall experience. Shooting is hard enough, Melee? Forgeeeduaboutitt!
The story is not up to par with any of the classics but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and the writers wear their mafioso loving hearts on their sleeves in a way most fans of modern crime can get behind and enjoy.
While it’s by no means perfect it’s a strong introduction into the Open-World genre that the PlayStation 2 would come to be known for and despite its flaws it’s still very much worth its affordable price tag.
Platforms: Windows/ Xbox (ported) / PlayStation 2 (ported)
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