"Five Stars" are NOT enough to rate Mafia
Mafia is nothing short of one of the most beautifully crafted, realistically-lovingly animated, atmospheric, living breathing worlds I have had the pleasure to game in. Mafia is basically the most refined and sophisticated open-world shooter game released to date. It was initially developed for PC by a Czech based company formerly known as ‘Illusion Softworks’ and later (Mafia) was ported to PlayStation 2 in 2003 and XBOX in 2004.
Mafia takes place in the 1930s, during the era of Prohibition, in a fictional city of 'Lost Heaven' (located on the East Coast of the United States). In the single-player campaign, the player assumes the role of Thomas “Tommy” Angelo, an ordinary albeit decent taxi driver, who inopportunely was implicated in a mobster car pursuit--quickly and unexpectedly becomes involved in Organized Crime as a driver for the Salieri crime family, led by Don Salieri.
First of all, ever since the game starts, everything is incredibly believable, polished, the city in movement, the graphics are very impressive. From the architecture, to the clothes, to weapons, to the cars inspired by authentic classic automobiles, the city of Lost Heaven is a world firmly grounded in historical reality. No other video game to date has managed to more faithfully and cinematically capture its time and its characters than has Mafia. The feel that you are in the early to mid 1900s is achieved marvelously and you can see many events occurring in the city and it makes you feel immersed as every person has their own agenda with expectations on the world.
One of the most impressive aspects of Mafia is its graphics. Simply put, Mafia looks stunning. Much of this has to do with the art design mentioned above, but overall--the graphics are exceptional considering the time frame in which the game was released, with high quality detail and excellent models. Most of the animations are excellent. Furthermore, the textures are incredible, as you can see the game's setting is specially highly detailed on every aspect.
The music score in Mafia is brilliant. While driving, or within a cut scene inside a bar, you’ll be subjected to the music of the 1930s, which is mostly consistent in jazz and it changes depending on the area of the map you’re currently driving in - it’s a little nice detail - there’s also plenty of music in the game soundtrack. The voice acting is top notch. Every mob voice is crisp and very believable in its entirety. The sound effects are rich and powerful. Each piece of music, each sound and each voice in the game is purposeful and is implemented perfectly. The game's opening theme is almost as much a masterpiece as the game really is.
The storyline is the major point of the game. The way you go from being the average guy to become a well respected member of your "family" is just too smart, very well developed, it's truly amazing and very well structured. Mafia makes you feel like you are playing a game and watching a classic mobster movie at the same time. In fact, Mafia is inspired and based on memorable gangster films. Therefore, Mafia is basically a crime drama film you play and interact with.
The gameplay mainly consists on completing the jobs of your boss, Don Salieri, he gives you plenty of variety in the jobs to do, and the missions have enough variety to keep you hooked. Some missions have you quietly boosting a shipment of whiskey, while other missions have you locked in massive firefights, or have you publicly assassinate an enemy--the missions are extremely well-designed, and often have multiple chapters--with excellent plot twists that often change the goals of the mission. The AI is very good, as enemies will look for cover, and friends will position themselves for better shots. The game manages to make the story coincide with all the events, and the result is none other than perfect--the third-person shooter mode is where Mafia really shines.
Driving around the city is also a big part of the gameplay and it has a very realistic format, because you’ll be dealing with other motorists that do plenty of ill-conceived driving moves, pedestrians that cross the road at the wrong moment, and also police that will give you a ticket--of course you can run away, but then you'll be arrested. If you resist to be arrested (you really don't have a choice. If you get arrested, you'll lost the mission), you'll become wanted. On the other hand, the Law in 'Lost Heaven' is one of the most unique and realistic elements that the game has to offer.
Overall, Mafia is stunningly impressive and you will not regret playing this game at this game, multiple times, never. If you haven't played this gem yet and you're interested, I would recommend playing it on the PC as I have heard that the console ports don’t have many of the features of the PC version such as police patrols around the city, graphics, realism, details, gameplay, etc... A sequel is already coming out in about a few months, so If you want the full "gangster experience", start first with Mafia. You can buy this game via online for mere $10.