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Mafia Xbox

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

We all know that it's possible for games to vary a little from platform to platform. A game that could be brilliant on one platform can be slightly inferior when ported to another. However it's not common for a game to go from exceptional to merely average when making the journey from one platform to another but that's exactly what happened when the PC classic Mafia arrived on PlayStation 2 a few months back. Now we have the Xbox version of Mafia, but how does it stand up to the PC version and is it be better than the PlayStation version?

Mafia is the story of Tommy Angelo and his involvement with the Salieri gang. The game begins with Tommy meeting Detective Norman in the hope of agreeing to a trade. Tommy has climbed the ranks in the Salieri gang but now feels that he is a marked man, with the threat coming from within the Salieri gang itself. Tommy wants out and in exchange for the protection of his family, he will give Detective Norman all the dirt on Don Salieri. Detective Norman agrees and the game begins with Tommy explaining his story from the very beginning, where else you might ask, and explains how he came to work for Salieri after getting caught in a gang shoot-out. You control Tommy through these reminisces and get to see him rise through the ranks of the Salieri gang.

As you may know the game is set in the 1930s and everything in the game reflects this. Vintage cars, old-fashioned weapons and hats and long overcoats are the fashion, in fact it is true to say that Illusion Softworks have given the game a very authentic feel. The missions have a pleasant amount of variety about them and the mix of killing, having to blow things up and of course having to steal and drive cars all over the city of Lost Heaven, which is large to say the least, all serves to create a very believable and enjoyable gangster flavour to the game. Aside from the main game, there's also a Free Ride mode. As you progress, various sections of the Free Ride mode are unlocked. Different cars become available to you. You can work as a Taxi driver, roam the city or even fight gangsters if you so wish. There are also some races to compete in too, although they are nothing spectacular. There is also a Carcyclopedia which enables you to view all the cars that appear in the game.

If you haven't played the PC version of Mafia what you won't notice is how everything seems to have been dumbed down. I'm not embarrassed to admit that certain levels in Mafia gave me a real headache and I had to attempt them many times. However I had no trouble in waltzing through the bulk of the Xbox version without as much as even coming close to failing. There are some control issues though and I'm surprised to find there isn't an auto-aim feature and that you can't lock on to your enemies in an effective manner. As a result it can feel cumbersome at times and could cause frustration. You'll notice that enemies don't appear to take realistic damage and will often survive a couple of hits from a shotgun, which is very strange. That said though the driving feels more comfortable using a gamepad than it did with the keyboard and mouse on the PC version.

The frame rate in the PlayStation 2 version was nothing short of hideous. Thankfully it's not so bad (although it still has a tendency to dip from time to time) with the Xbox version, but it still can't compare with what you'd have on a good specification PC and the graphics are nowhere near what the Xbox is capable of. The PlayStation 2 had multiple load points in levels whereas the PC version had none and once again the Xbox version has inherited these problems. The load times aren't quite as poor as the PlayStation 2 version though. I don't know for sure but it appears that the Xbox version is a port of the PlayStation 2 version, which is a big disappointment as it's more than capable of handling a direct port of the PC version, which is far superior in almost every department.

Perhaps the most painful aspect of the PlayStation 2 version was that the subtitles had been completely ripped out of the game. This was a catastrophe of the highest order for deaf gamers. The PC version had been subtitled so to see no subtitles at all was very disappointing. Unfortunately the Xbox version is exactly the same as the PlayStation 2 version and once again we have a console version of Mafia that has no subtitles. Why? Had the PC version not been subtitled then it could have been argued that no extra effort had been gone to but to remove them is ridiculous and far less appealing for deaf gamers. Tutorial messages appear in text and basic objectives are given in text too (these can be recalled by pressing the start button) but that's small consolation when the game's fine story can't be enjoyed.

Whilst Mafia looks and plays a little better on the Xbox than it did on the PlayStation 2, there really is no point in deaf gamers picking up either console version. The fact that the Xbox version, like the PlayStation 2 version, has had the subtitles removed means that it should not be considered by the deaf gamer. Don't get me wrong it's by no means a terrible game (the score would have been a lot lower if it was) it's just that a PC classic has been turned into a mediocre console version. If you haven't played the game yet our advice would be to opt for the PC version as that is subtitled and you'll be able to enjoy the game in all it's glory and not have to suffer a version of the game where you'll not be able to appreciate the story.

Overall Game Rating: 5.6/10
It's the second console version of Mafia that we've looked at and yet again it fails to measure up to the PC version in more ways than is acceptable.

Deaf Gamers comment:
It's a big disappointment to see that the subtitles are again absent.