Hands-onMafia

We take Illusion Softworks' new organized crime action game for a little spin.

Illusion Softworks' new organized crime game Mafia is hitting stores today, and we've finally gotten our hands on a final version of the game. Mafia is a visually impressive third-person action adventure game with both driving and shooting elements, and, judging from what we've seen so far, it focuses quite a bit on its solid story.

You assume the role of Tommy Angelo, an innocent cab driver who gets dragged into the Salieri crime family after helping two of Salieri's boys escape from some thugs working for the Morello crime family. The early part of the game is part story and part tutorial, showing you how to handle weapons and control Tommy, as well as understand the layout of the fictional city known as Lost Heaven. The game features realistic police response, in that nearby cops won't act until they see you commit a crime. As such, you'll have to obey traffic laws--running red lights, speeding, or getting into collisions will get you fined. You'll also be able to give cops the slip by escaping your car or, if you're acting up while on foot, slipping into a car without being spotted. As you progress through the game, you'll learn how to pick locks on more and more vehicles, allowing you to steal a larger variety of cars.

Mafia follows a fairly strict mission-based formula. It uses a compass and a radar display to show you your surroundings and destinations, and a map can be called up anytime you need to see the city streets. Missions often change drastically midstream. For example, the second level starts out with you simply driving your cab and learning the lay of the land while taking passengers from place to place, but a run-in with some of Morello's boys turns the mission into a footrace as you try to reach the friendly confines of Don Salieri's bar before your pursuers kill you.

Mafia's storyline is basically one large flashback. The game opens with Tommy spilling his guts to a cop in exchange for protection, and the gameplay picks up from there, letting you take the reins of Tommy's Mafia memories. The story is told using lengthy in-engine cutscenes that look reasonably good but sound much, much better. Most of the voice work we've heard thus far seems to be top-notch, and the feeling of being part of a 1930s crime family really comes across very well. The graphics also look very sharp, though the animation--both in and out of the cutscenes--seems a little strange at times.

While the early parts of the game focus on getting you acclimated to your surroundings and seem somewhat rudimentary, the third and fourth missions definitely start to pick up the pace, and the well-told story definitely seems to add a lot to the game's atmosphere. We'll have a full review of Mafia soon. For more information on the game, have a look at our previous coverage.

Written By

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

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jakeboudville
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