Mafia returns to sale after vanishing for five years

After five years of not being sold for download anywhere (and long being out-of-print on disc), the first Mafia has returned to sale. GOG this week dredged the digital bay, hauled the crime ’em up out, and chipped off its concrete boots to re-release it DRM-free. This version has an edited soundtrack with the licensed music removed, mind. Presumably music licenses expiring is what got the game pulled from sale back in 2012. I’ve not played Mafia since ooh it was on CD, so I am tempted to see how it feels 15 years after it came out – and after two sequels of varying quality and direction.

GOG are selling Mafia for £7.99.

You might want to download this widescreen mod to better utilise your fancy modern monitor. And if you do have the CD or Steam version but want it DRM-free too, this tutorial explains how to bust open data files and add the original music back. Oh! And a mod added multiplayer a few years back.

For those who haven’t played Mafia, a brief summary. It’s set in the fictional American city of Lost Heaven during the Depression, where a taxi driver gets pulled into the mob and slowly climbs its ranks. The story spans several years, living out chapters of Tommy’s life as he tells his story, which I always liked. It’s a third-person shooter with car chases aplenty and one notably horrible race. One curious aspect is that though it’s set in a Grand Theft Auto 3-ish open world, it’s a fairly linear and mission-based game. Aside from a wacky post-game mode, the open world is not full of hidden tasks and missions as you might expect. It was strange, even at the time, but I did enjoy that I could just drive for driving’s sake without feeling nagged. And it’s a pretty decent game? I think? People will tell you it’s so much better than the sequels but my memory is hazy here.

It is a shame to lose the licensed music. Hours of driving across Lost Heaven means certain period tunes from the radio are stuck in my brain. They set such a great mood. The version presented to posterity is an inferior version, one not in tune with the game’s vision. Such is the sorry state of video game preservation.

Alan Wake was pulled from sale earlier this year because its licensed soundtrack expired, and GTA: San Andreas was updated to remove some songs. What a mess.

33 Comments

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    I did enjoy this, up until the mission where you had to win a race in the floatiest skiddiest race car ever.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      This is the patched version, which fixes the race. Though it also breaks a lot of other things like decal textures. Personally I liked the unpatched race, and mods sometimes don’t play nice with the patches.

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        Speaking of which, a lot of the older mods have been lost with the waxing and waning of mod sites, but Mafiascene came back a few years ago and started collecting them again.
        If you want a winter mod for Christmas, there’s one I worked on years ago on the last page of the mods category in Downloads.
        http://mafiascene.com

    • Squido says:

      I seem to recall you could cheese the race via a short-cut at some point around the track..

      • GenialityOfEvil says:

        It is a cheat though. After the first hairpin turn, there’s a road on the left with bollards. When you’re at the end of the road, you reset the car and it warps you to the start line. You can cut almost all of the track doing that, but it is more cheat than shortcut, since the other cars can still beat you if you just use it as a normal shortcut.

  2. Mecha_Rocky says:

    Darn, the music was one of the best parts. Sometimes when I drive back roads I put on the soundtrack and pretend I’m in an old jalopy!

  3. gamma says:

    Slightly OT:

    I can only see myself become worse the more cross domains I have to trash. Suggestion: host your source of revenue, AFAIC www trust ends there.

  4. UnknownTarget says:

    Just wanted to say that the “[blank] ’em up” joke is really stale.

  5. G_Man_007 says:

    I break out the CD version every couple of years as it’s one of the most perfect games ever made (as in, the ending isn’t terrible, it’s actually good). This is good news, though the music thing sucks. I’m sure the music can be obtained, or even other period music, and made to work in the game. Be interesting to see if that can be done.

  6. KFee says:

    Best single player game I’ve ever played, a real gem. Though, the music thing is bad.

  7. Moose Malloy says:

    I used to detour through Chinatown wherever I was going, just to hear “Chi-na-town, my Chinatown” by the Mills Brothers. It definitely won’t be the same without that and all the Django Reinhardt. This is one of my all-time favourite games, more for the period atmosphere and the story than the actual gameplay.

  8. woodsey says:

    A true classic, for my money.

    The open world works precisely because it isn’t full of random crap to rack up the hours. Its a place with laws and customs that even a mid-level gangster like Tommy can’t just ignore, and the sense of normalcy they induce only serves to emphasise the violence you commit in the missions themselves. Shooting someone (a thousand someones, normally) in GTA is slapstick, but shooting someone in Mafia is murder.

    • Werthead says:

      Mafia was a linear mission-based game, it wasn’t an open world game and was never meant to be. The “free roam” mode I’m pretty certain was forced on Illusion by 2K, who wanted to cash in on the success of GTA3 the year before, but it was an iffy fit at best.

      I think the linear mission thing worked because it forced them to have a good storyline, because that was what the whole game was about. The GTA games could get away with having a shambolic main story because of how few people ever completed the stories in the games, instead just preferring to dick around.

  9. porcelain_gods says:

    Surprised it’s not been mentioned yet but the original music can be added, our friends in the GOG forums are on the ball

    link to gog.com

  10. malkav11 says:

    I never got past the opening taxi chase. It’s probably authentic but my word, what terribly handling cars.

    • Werthead says:

      They do get a lot better. The game spans a period of about 10 years and every couple of missions the game jumps forward and suddenly you get much better and much faster cars. You also see the city getting bigger, the suburbs spreading out, the city-centre buildings being knocked down and replaced by skyscrapers, along with the music changing with the passing years. That was all pretty cool.

      • malkav11 says:

        Unfortunately getting to those better cars would require me to be able to complete the opening taxi chase. Or willing to try enough to manage it, depending. It was infuriating.

  11. Lurid says:

    Imagine if movies had to do the same thing, or any other medium.

    • malkav11 says:

      You mean like the TV shows that either still don’t have a DVD release because they don’t have a perpetual license for the music they used or were re-edited minus the licensed music? Because that’s absolutely a thing that’s been happening in that medium. I’m not sure if anything like that’s happened with movies but they tend to have larger budgets and there was much more of a culture of rewatching with them than anyone expected out of television before the DVD or videogames before digital distribution.

      And yes, it’s terrible and nobody should be making licensing deals that force this sort of issue, but that just wasn’t how people were thinking at the time.

      • dethtoll says:

        It’s impossible to find a version of Return of the Living Dead 1 and 2 with their original soundtracks in the US.

      • Werthead says:

        I think the biggest casualty of this was Quantum Leap, which had period music in every episode from between the 1950s and 1980s. When the DVDs came out they had permanent rights for some music and not others and it turned into a mess.

  12. dethtoll says:

    I hated this game so much. I’ve never played a game so aggressively broken and half-formed. The city was lifeless; just cardboard. Even GTA3’s Liberty City felt more real. The voice acting was horrendous. The story was a long string of cliches and plot holes. And don’t get me started on the gameplay. The driving physics were horrible. The chase AI was horrible. The way every asshole could snipe you from 2000 feet with a sawed off was horrible. Even the PS2 version of Max Payne was less infuriating.

    It’s not the worst game I ever played. But it’s up there.

    • TheBeret says:

      Interesting review of GTA3 you’ve got there. Mafia, on the other hand, was outstanding- though I hear the console ports were just rubbish. PC all the way, with Mafia 1.

    • SexyHomie says:

      Interesting. I don’t know about voice acting in english, however, czech voice acting is probably one of the best. Although it was broken in many ways, it was actually very solid game.
      I guess it’s just not for everyone. Cheers.

      • Werthead says:

        The English voice acting is excellent, although the dialogue can sometimes be a bit stilted. But several of the actors in the game are from HBO series like The Sopranos and The Wire (whom they got cheap at the time, as The Wire had only just started), and do top notch work.

    • gabrielonuris says:

      I’ve scrolled the internet in the last couple of days searching for a comment like this, and here is you!

      To be honest, no game of the past has aged so badly as this crap; all the people claiming it to be great are actually blinded by nostalgia; I wanna see them say that after one of the chasing missions, where the NPC could clearly clip through light poles and artificially increase its speed while you get near them before the scripted point (God, I feel shivers down my spine just writing this blasphemy).

      It is indeed the worst game I’ve ever played. And also, far-between checkpoint save system.

      • Werthead says:

        The save system is infuriating, I’ll give you that, particularly the way it saves just before the cut scene so you have to skip the dialogue all over again (protip: the “skip scene” button is space, which I don’t think the game ever tells you).

        The “artificial AI aids” problem is irritating, but it’s also incredibly common in almost every game out there, especially of that time. I remember installing a mod which allowed you to move in the cut scenes in Max Payne and it made it clear how artificial the game was in that you could have killed bad guys very easily but the game insisted on forcing cut scenes on you and then setting you up to fail. The recent(ish) Max Payne 3 was actually by far the worst at that (fly through a door with guns outstretched, ready to start shooting, and instead a cut scene plays and now you’re hiding behind a barrel for some reason). In Fallout 4 you could fix the problems in the Commonwealth in 3 seconds if the game just allowed you to shoot the bad guy when you first meet him (as New Vegas did) but nope, Bethesda want you to experience their thin narrative for several hours first. BioWare games are even worse at this. And the Total War games require extensive behind-the-scenes AI boosts to help it out because it would fall over without it.

    • Werthead says:

      The voice acting – by several castmembers of The Sopranos and The Wire – was excellent. I don’t recall the story, which was pretty simple and tight – having many major plotholes other than you getting away with so much carnage, and the fact the police were on the mafia payroll explains that reasonably well (and it’s even a plot point in the framing story). The driving physics were challenging because they were replicating late 1920s cars, which had the handling of bricks on wheels. It gets a lot better as you upgrade to better cars and time passes and technology improves. Even at their worst, they still handle far better than some recent games like Watch_Dogs (like, what the hell was going on in that game with the cars?).

      I liked the fact that they treated the shotgun as an actually effective weapon at range. Most shooters, even today, seem to suggest that a shotgun has an effective range of about five feet and is useless beyond that. In Mafia it’s still better for close quarters but it’s a useful weapon at all but the longest ranges, which is more realistic. The Tommy Gun being an effective sniper weapon across ridiculous distances is a bit more of a problem, but only because it makes the game a lot easier, the AI never seemed to hit on that.

      It’s an old game that has issues and will probably be best appreciated by those who played it at the time in the context of when it was released, but it utterly crushed the GTA games of the time in terms of graphics, story and character. It lacked the insane open-world hijinks of GTA, but then it was trying to do something a lot more ambitious with the story, which interestingly GTA4 then seemed to try to follow (and did less successfully).

  13. Boronian says:

    Great game, don’t know how many times I completed it. And its music (especially Django Reinhardt) is one of its biggest strengths. So I am happy that there is a way to get the music back. I still have the cds lying around somewhere but I will get it on GoG during a sale for sure!

  14. Werthead says:

    The relationship between Mafia and Mafia 2 is odd. Mafia has, easily, a better (if more traditional) story and far more memorable characters. Mafia 2 does edge it on gameplay and gunplay, but it has a lot less combat than the first game, which had some epic, massive battles. I respect the fact that Mafia 2 was trying to tell a different kind of story, but that involved making the main character an unsympathetic arsehole who never, ever learned or grew from his experiences, which made it hard to want to play the game. Tommy in Mafia, whilst first a naive idiot and later on very self-serving, did eventually realise what he was doing and tried to escape from it, which made for a much more satisfying story.

    Mafia 3 I haven’t played yet, and don’t have any plan to until a major sale knocks down the price.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>