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Mafia PlayStation 2

Published by Gathering
Developed by Illusion Softworks
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

When Mafia was released on the PC back in 2002, it received worldwide recognition for it's gameplay, attention to detail, and fantastic storyline. Based on the success of the original release, Take Two (under their Gathering label) have decided to expand on this by releasing the game on PS2 and Xbox, hoping the story of one man's rise and fall through the Mafia can grip console gamers as it did the pc gamers. Have Take Two succeeded? Read on to find out.

Mafia follows the story of Tommy Angelo, a lowly taxi driver who through a combination of circumstances finds himself joining the Salieri mob, starting as a small-time thug and working his way up. The story is told by Tommy himself, as the pre-game intro shows him meeting a police detective, to offer information on the Salieri mob in exchange for protection from his former employers. The missions you play are actually the stories that Tommy tells the police detective, with occasional breaks back to the present day as Tommy explains things, giving the story more depth and background. And what a story it is! The story is easily one of the best I've ever come across, and certainly compels you to move further into the game to find out more about Tommy, his life, and what will happen next.

As those who have read our original review will know, the game is set in the 1930's, the peak time for gangsters. A time when prohibition was rife, and the mob ruled everywhere, the game captures the style of the time perfectly. From collecting money from "friendly" businesses, delivering hooch, assassinating rivals, the missions really make you feel you're part of the mob, where your actions can have repercussions far beyond your expectations. The missions are varied, and while they're quite linear in structure, you never feel like you're being led through levels. This is undoubtedly a good thing as it can stop you from being frustrated by doing the same thing over and over again.

So, we know how great the story and missions are, but how does the game actually play? Well, as a self-confessed fan of Mafia, I have to admit to being very disappointed with the Playstation version, for several reasons. First of all, while the PC version of Mafia looked fabulous, the PS2 version is at times a mere poor relation. The number of textures has been greatly reduced, so instead of a lush city where every building looks unique, you're treated to a city that looks like everything has been made by one company who only had a limited number of styles.

And then we move onto the controls. Gone is the super fast responsiveness of the keyboard and mouse, instead replaced by the awkward movement and shooting with the analogue pad. It's been a common problem on console shooters for a long time, and several games have made efforts to overcome the inherent lack of accuracy the PS2 pad brings. Unfortunately though all that has been done here is to reduce the accuracy of the AI, giving you a bit more breathing room. You can of course adjust the sensitivity of the pad, but it still never feels enough. The upside of course, is that driving on the PS2 game feels more natural that using a keyboard, and seeing that you do spend quite a lot of time inside a car, this is obviously a good thing.

I also noticed what seemed to be a bug when driving, that cars sometimes seem to disappear when changing views. It seemed that at times a car would be behind you, yet when you looked again a second later, it had gone. The car could obviously have turned a corner, but it happened often enough to make me wonder if this was some kind of bug in the game.

Some final problems have to be mentioned as well. Firstly, that the game seems slightly dumbed down for console users. Gone are the 40mph speed limits, replaced by a more friendly 60mph speed limit. As mentioned, the AI seems to have taken a hit as well, which means the game isn’t as hard as it once was (though the original was labelled too-hard by some, so this may not be a bad thing). The loading times are also abysmal, worse than any PS2 game I’ve seen in a long time. There are load times between missions, before missions, and during missions, as you move from island to island. The tutorial is also a distant memory, instead replaced by hints before missions (which are shown in text), letting you know what buttons are required to perform various functions. The most unforgivable problem for deaf gamers though is the complete lack of subtitles. For a game which relies so heavily on a strong storyline, to not have subtitles is almost criminal. I can only assume this is due to space limitations due to the PS2’s hardware specifications.

So, with all of the above problems, is this still a game worth playing? To be honest, if you have a decent specification PC, buy it on budget for that. If you’re hankering for some gangster action, there are better alternatives available, such as GTA, True Crime, and The Getaway. It’s a PC classic which has suffered from a terrible port, steer clear.

Overall Game Rating: 5.5/10
A superb storyline surrounded by poor controls, awful loading times, several niggles, and a general feeling of “should have been so much better”.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The game has no subtitles whatsoever, meaning the games main redeeming feature, the story, will go unnoticed. Missing out on the story means missing out on the main reason to play what is a poor conversion of a PC classic.

Reviewed by David Pitchforth