After two long years of waiting, Mafia has finally been ported to the consoles. The PC version was a hit, with a compelling story line and superb graphics. Let’s see if Mafia has stood the test of time and can bring to the PS2 what it brought to the PC.
It’s a sad thing that Mafia mimics games that are already on the market. Mafia resembles GTA:3 the most. Every element in GTA 3 can be found in Mafia excluding the storyline. While playing Mafia, I had to think of, "Haven’t I seen this before?"
Tommy is the unlucky character that gets caught in a mob fight and is forced to work with the mafia. Now he is trying to get out and finds some help with the local detective. The game plays like a movie. Tommy begins the game by telling the detective his side of the story and you play along with it. Before each mission, Tommy gives a summary of what you will be doing. Don Salieri gives you your orders but how you go about doing them is completely up to you. A good portion of the time, the missions will start at Salieri's bar. Instead of being stranded all alone, you will have a few other mobsters that help you out.
Computer A.I. is quite impressive. You won’t feel alone because your partners run off or die frequently. When they get shot at, they will shoot. Be careful though – you can’t go around creating havoc without gaining the attention of the police. Even though you have connections with the police, they can only take so much. Two speeding warnings will be assigned before you’ll be locked up. Fish tailing, bumping, and take overs are just some of the moves the police will use to stop you. They will arrest you for having a weapon in public (the baseball bat does not count), and as soon as you start shooting, they return fire.
Since the game’s time set is placed in the 1930s, the cars look and perform as you would imagine they would in that period. When you take damage from bumping into other people and such, your car reflects this by getting damaged. The more damage you take, the worse your car is going to perform. The rides back to Saleiri’s Bar can seem like a long haul trip since the average car can only manage 60 mph.
Besides the Story Mode, there are the Racing and Free ride. Winning races, blowing up cars, fighting mobs, and driving the taxi are just some of the ways of gaining money. The money you earn can only be used for healing you and your car. Completing missions will result in unlocking extra cars to choose from.
You have a number of guns to choose from. You can pick them up at various locations. Unlike the PC, the PS2 has to use the analog sticks to move and aim. If you’re a veteran of FPS games for the PS2, this is normal, but for me it was a challenge. The button layout isn’t too hard to remember. Luckily, each button is placed where you can take action when you need it.
The sound effects are top notch. Babies crying, the guns blazing, and car engines are just some of the noises you'll hear on the streets. It all adds to the realism factor that you're walking through the crime ridden streets of the 30s. Voice overs are also one of a kind. They are professionally acted without flaws. What is fun but aggravating, is when you are driving, people will scream and shout at you when you do dangerous maneuvers.
Each weapon you use has a unique sound. Machine guns have a light sound, while a heavy pistol has a heavy booming effect. Mafia has a soundtrack that features various artists. Each track has the characteristics that you would expect from a song in that era. Swing and Jazz are the main selection.
I might be the only person that hasn’t played the PC version of Mafia. That is why I picked this copy up. From assumption I could give an educated guess that the PC version’s graphics were twice as good. The environments lack the fine detail you would expect from a great title such as this. The car and human models are an exception however, being crafted to perfection. The details on the faces were amazing. Faces were so detailed that you could see the wrinkles on Don’s face clearly.
Outdoor details are down right depressing. The colors are composed of darker shades of brown and gray. A 2d-ish look often comes off, and a good portion of the game looks unfinished. Clipping errors and aliasing problems that could've been solved by turning on advanced graphics options on the PC are all present in the PS2 version of this game – only this time around there's no options to choose from.
Mafia is a great game even though the graphics aren’t top notch. This is a great start for people who haven’t played the PC version (like me)! A strong story line and graphics that are merely ok for the most part will have you seeing everything in Tommy’s eyes. Freeride and Racing modes add a few extra hours of fun, but eventually lose their appeal (you won’t solely rely on these modes for fun though). A good recommendation for those who haven’t played Mafia for the PC, or don’t have a PC at all.