EG’s Retro Sunday: Mafia

By John Walker on April 19th, 2009 at 4:46 pm.

Drinking appears to be up there with hugging as something game engines just can't do.

With Mafia II news due to break any moment, this week seemed a sensible time to go back and play the 2002 original. Which is what I did, and is now up to read on Eurogamer.

“Mafia is still a radical game. In 2002, just a year after Grand Theft Auto III had shaken up everyone’s expectations of sandbox gaming, Illusion Softworks’ open city went deeply against the grain. Rather than embracing the freedom of choice a living city offers, it chose to make a tightly scripted, extremely linear story with little else to do. And thank goodness, because seven years on, Mafia is still compelling despite its aging technology.”

It carries on here.

Tonight we will have the very latest information on Mafia II right here on RPS. Be here.

, , .

38 Comments »

  1. Flobulon says:

    The link seems to be screwed. Great article though.

  2. Pavel says:

    Mafia 1 – one of the best games ever made, certainly better than any GTA (and I love GTA, even fourth one, which I finished today).

  3. Stupoider says:

    Oooh, I loved Mafia’s story, and I’ve still got the disk lying around somewhere near my Xbox!

  4. TheLordHimself says:

    I recently replayed Mafia and even now it is still one of my favourite games. For those who have a computer powerful enough, I cannot recommend enough downloading the draw distance removal mod. Being able to see from one end of the city to the other is absolutely breathe taking. I would even go as far to say that, with that mod, the game betters any other city game for making you feel like your in an actual city, because you can see so far, you can see everything.

  5. Dreamhacker says:

    Mafia: Probably the best GTA clone in the world.

    I look forward to number 2.

  6. Stuk says:

    Correct link here: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/retrospective-mafia-article

    Mafia is a fantastic game, with some great cut scenes. I guess time has removed my memories of the AI, as I can’t recall them being that annoying, but you are certainly right about the difficulty…wave? Some missions were incredibly difficult, especially without quick save, but the joy of completing them was great.

    And yes the ending is a good one. I personally haven’t seen any similar.

  7. Rinox says:

    I replayed Mafia a few months ago and it hasn’t lost any of its glory. I was gonna say “even if the fighting sequences were a little hard to control” but then it’s not like things have gotten a lot better in more recent games.

    One of the few games that passes the test of time both in gameplay and graphics. Some of the interiors were just class – like that of the hotel murder scene. Ah Mafia…gotta respect a game that has developers smart enough to implement a legal speed limiter.

  8. Zyrxil says:

    The thing is, Mafia was in development longer than GTA3, and it started before GTA3. I wonder what GTA would be like now if Mafia had been released 6 months before GTA3.

  9. St_Martyne says:

    A true Godfather equivalent in video games!

  10. HidesHisEyes says:

    My favourite game of all time. The gameplay was fantastic, the story was great and told in a fantastic fashion, and it’s literally the best ending of any game i’ve ever played. It’s everything GAT3 could have been and much more. It sounds like it should be boring when you say “you spend a fair proportion of the game driving people around, following the rules of the road and observing the speed limit” but it just makes the whole thing more believable.

  11. John Walker says:

    Link fixed. And Lord, I wish I’d known about the mod! Will check it out.

  12. Paul says:

    That retrospective goes against Eurogamers original review: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/r_mafia

    Although everyone knows that review was just completely wrong. Mafia is one of the best PC games ever created.

  13. Nuyan says:

    Jesus christ, that original review…

  14. John Walker says:

    Actually, there’s almost nothing that’s factually wrong about that review. There’s a couple of glaringly stupid mistakes, including not knowing what year the game begins, but every fault described is absolutely correct. It is screamingly frustrating in places, and remember this poor bugger was reviewing it with the original race.

    You can defend that review a pretty long distance. Still, it’s wrong : )

  15. A-Scale says:

    Mafia is not only one of the best produced pc games of all time, it also has an incredibly compelling story and superb action that really immerses you in the 30s. I have never found quite the satisfaction in any other game since. I hope Mafia 2 will live up to its predecessor, but I don’t know if that’s possible.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    Absolutely loved the original for all the reasons stated here. I always considered it to be infinitely better than the GTA games, but really they are a different genre and it isn’t right to compare. I seem to remember that the original reviews all seemed to miss the point (PC Gamer gave it about 70% if I remember correctly,) and were overly negative. The slow start is certainly longer than you remember, but I think this is completely intentional, as it really sucks right into the world it is set in.

    Exciting to hear that there will be some news coming out about 2, as it seems to have been quiet for quite a while. Hopefully, they will announce a release date. The comments on the Eurogamer retrospective provided this link with gameplay footage: http://kotaku.com/5217800/norway-gives-us-mafia-ii-gameplay-footage looks pretty good.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Nero says:

    One of my favorite games of all time Mafia 1. It was simply a stunning game. Hope number 2 is good, though the footage i saw looked so so. I’m getting tired of cover systems actually, and this game will have it.

  18. John Walker says:

    PC Gamer UK gave it 83% on release, which is a much more sensible mark.

  19. Heliocentric says:

    Why couldn’t have this game not been about organised crime? Its so beautiful in every other way. Never finished it mind.

  20. Pavel says:

    95% and above is a much more sensible mark.

  21. Rinox says:

    I don’t really understand how almost every review/retrospective keeps mentioning the overactive police as such a major breaking point. I run into way more police madness in the GTA titles than I ever did in Mafia, and no one ever complains about the police in those games. Possibly because half of the fun of GTA is turning entire squadrons of police into roadkill?

    In a game of Mafia’s seriousness and with the relatively slow pace outside of missions a lenient police force just wouldn’t feel right anyway. GTA is so over the top that driving over 10 pedestrians just so can park your car properly doesn’t seem all that bad…but Mafia has a much more serious tone.

    /rant mode off. But I still don’t see how people had so much trouble with the police. If you use the speed limiter that comes with the game it isn’t all that hard.

  22. A-Scale says:

    PC Gamer UK gave it 83% on release, which is a much more sensible mark.

    Methinks not. This game was not 17% bad, off, or substandard. It was not in the 83rd percentile of all games, or even all games in its genre. It is a top of the line title that should be missed by no one.

  23. MeestaNob! says:

    Goddamit why wont Mafia 1 come out on Steam!? What few budget copies I’ve found about the place aren’t very attractive propositions with 4 CDs cluttering up the place.

  24. malkav11 says:

    I installed Mafia once. Fired it up. Went through the tutorial. Started the game….and got into a car chase that I simply could not get past. That was the end of the game for me.

  25. EBass says:

    Brilliant brilliant game. A lot of publications at this time were all goey eyed over GTA3 and simply compared Mafia directly to it “NEEDZ MOAR SIDE MISSIONS, WHERE IZ FBI AND ARMY!” etc etc. Morons, heads should have rolled.

    The AI is pretty bad, but its still far better than GTA’s AI, and no one complained about that. Granted on foot AI played a bigger role in Mafia, but the only real mission where Sam and Paulie have any chance of dying is the garage, which isn’t really that hard, maybe the farm as well.

    The graphics still stand up remarkably well today for a game that ran on my old p600, the shooting out of windows mechanic was brilliant in car chases as you could manually aim for their tyres or the driver himself (something that didn’t come in till GTAs fourth edition)

    Overall, brilliant brilliant game.

    Also, have to say this.

    THE RACE WAS NOT HARD, GET OVER IT. I DID IT FIRST TIME ON HARD WITH AN UNPATCHED GAME USING A FRIGGIN KEYBOARD.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    Oh, was it as high as 83? I seemed to be remembering being very surprised at how low it was and how negative the review was. Maybe I’m thinking of another mag. Then again I was much younger and naive and may have thought an 83 was a shit score.

    I do agree that the race was unbelievable hard pre-patch.

  27. Tim says:

    One of my few disappointments in the backlog. I can tolerate a lot of shitty game design and gameplay, but not without a quicksave. Story seemed relatively interesting when I wasn’t smashing my PC.

  28. TheLordHimself says:

    @John

    Its worth trying just to see it. But, you will need a pretty kickass machine to keep the framerate reasonable. Also its a pain to setup because you have to manually alter about 50 files. Happily, someone at MafiaScene.com has altered them all and packaged them together. The pack is something like the optimised draw pack or something, have a look.

  29. Kent Pribbernow says:

    Ah…that brings back memories of free ride hijinx. I got my jollies by driving my taxi through boroughs at high-speed, hitting pedestrians while sideswiping rival gang cars and police cars, culminating in a posse of criminals and cops chasing me through every corner of the city. When that got old I would hop aboard an L-train and snipe at cars and citizens with my Tommy gun, instantly igniting running gun fights with the police, who waited for me at every terminal. Good times.

  30. Ashurbanipal says:

    I remember picking it up on a gamble and it being quite good. Never finished it, having abandoned the thing in a fit of pique after an insurpassable racing section. I wanted to play it again, but my old computer didn’t like it. Now that I’ve got a new one, this article has given me the idea to give it another shot, actually. Thanks!

  31. Shadowcat says:

    The original unpatched race was awesome! (Although EBass is clearly a bit freakishly good.)

    Sure it took a few attempts, but come on people, it’s a race. You’re supposed to have to learn the track and your car’s abilities a little. Seriously, what kind of satisfaction is there in a racing game that has no challenge?

    Now that’s not to say that I don’t think they should have patched it — Mafia isn’t actually a racing game first and foremost, after all — but I was seriously pissed off when I heard that they’d made it easier in the patch without given you the option of playing it in its original form! That really, really sucked.

  32. Shadowcat says:

    Without quicksave, and with astonishingly high difficulty in places, I remembered that many of Mafia’s best missions are about repeated attempts, refining your approach until you find the slickest, subtlest, and cleverest technique for surviving the situation.

    I just wanted to say that it’s pretty weird of you to say that, and still have issues with the race :) Your comments here are completely applicable to that mission, and that is precisely why the race is one of my favourite memories of playing Mafia.

  33. l1ddl3monkey says:

    One day the local kids carried my mothers groceries home from the store. Ya know why? It was out of respect.

  34. url404 says:

    @malkav11

    I’m rather ashamed to say my experience rather echo’s that. I dug up the game tonight and tried to re-installed it but now I can’t due to hanging on the 2nd CD during install. I wonder if I can still bother take2…

  35. Lucas says:

    I didn’t enjoy Mafia. After GTA3 it felt so stiff and stale. I did like the racetrack mission, but then I’m a Gran Turismo “have to get all the license tests gold” type. The looong slow cinematics are the final nail in its coffin. It was authentic, but not very much fun.

  36. Jakson Breen says:

    The Alley chase scene near the beginning was one of those golden gaming moments that made me squeal just a little. It made me wonder why other games at the time never made me run away from my enemies instead of shooting them in the head…

  37. Rei Onryou says:

    A good retro piece, and the draw distance mod sounds cool. It’s already on my “to play” pile behind me. One day I’ll reach it. :)

  38. PC Monster says:

    Ok.

    I’ve had the game a week now (cheers, eBay) and am now uninstalling it. It was fine while I could get it to work but the perplexing absence of sound in the video cutscenes (of which there are thankfully few) and the recurring, play-ruining animation-loop I can’t stop Tommy getting into (or break him out of; it’s still there when I reload or start a different game mode!) have finally forced me to give up on it. It’s a real shame: there is obviously a great game here, and a very well-written story feeding it all, but the technical problems even in the patched version are just pissing me off right now and have killed dead any desire to continue playing.

    Reminisce at your own peril.

    In other news, Steam won’t let me play Zeno Clash because it keeps trying to apply the new update and failing to find a server to do so – they’re “too busy”, apparently. That’s right: this miraculous wonder-service won’t let me play a game I’ve bought and paid for. The next person who sings Steam’s praises on this site is getting hit in the face.