developer: 2K Czech / Illusion Softworks
Game mode: single player
Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven is a third-person gangster action game for PC, PS2 and XBX, portraying the criminal underworld of 1930s America. The Czech studio Illusion Softworks is responsible for the creation of the game, known mostly for a criticaly acclaimed tactical war shooter Hidden and Dangerous. The world distributor is Gathering of Developers, a part of Take Two Interactive corporation.
The action of Mafia has been placed in fictional American city of Lost Heaven (based on Chicago, New York and San Francisco), and is set in the years 1930 to 1938, but the cinematic epilogue of the game shows the further course of events, up to 1951. During the gameplay, we assume the role of a young taxi driver, Thomas Angelo, who wishing to earn a living, hadn’t avoided even the most dangerous fares to the “shady” areas of the city. During one of them, he was attacked by Morello gangsters, but he managed to escape and hide in a nearby bar. There, he received an interesting job offer, made by Don Salieri – the owner of the bar and a mafioso, who rules the entire Italian neighborhood. This way, following an unexpected course of events, our protagonist entered the ranks of a famous criminal organization.
The plot of the game was presented in the form of flashbacks, during a conversation the main hero has with a detective interrogating him. In exchange for protection and status of a key witness, Thomas Angelo reveals further secrets of the criminal underworld and its boss, Don Salieri, to the police. The players assume the control of the gangster, and take an active part in his subsequent memories during the gameplay.
The mechanics of Mafia share certain similarities with the last installments of Grand Theft Auto series, and both games are linked through various elements, such as third person perspective, the ability to drive cars, and an open world, filled with various side activities. The Lost Heaven map encompass more than a dozen square miles of a living, bustling city, which can be freely travelled on foot, as well as in cars (taking a tram is also possible). More than 60 car models had been mapped for the game, including a number of iconic models from the era. Unfortunately, due to the lack of licensing, their names had been changed. What is interesting, we should obey the traffic rules during driving, as any committed offenses can end up with a ticket or an intense police chase.
The main storyline consists of 22 missions, enriched by numerous subplots. During the gameplay, we carry out various tasks like collecting extortion money from the bar owners, taking over the transports of illegal alcohol, transferring the stolen cars to special drop-off points, or elimination of traitors and members of competing crime family. During the missions, we make use of a sizeable weapon arsenal, created on the basis of authentic 1930s firearms. We can also undertake extra tasks from non-player characters, including beat downs, warning or saving friends, or acquiring and bringing a certain type of vehicle. The plot advances are accompanied with cut-scenes, realized in a typical movie manner, showing the characters’ fates and moral dilemmas.
Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven for PC, PS2 and XBX is a single player-only game. The developers prepared extra modes of gameplay, in order to provide some activities after finishing the game. The first of them is the free ride mode (unlocked gradually with the progression in the game), in which we earn a living by transporting people by taxi, killing members of the opposing family or destroying cars, and the goal is to earn as much cash as possible. The second mode is free ride extreme, available after finishing the main plot, which gives us the opportunity to undertake a number of difficult and often quite abstract tasks (for example, chasing the alien ship). The rewards for doing those tasks are exclusive and often very fast car models.
Released on PC, PS2 and XBX, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven was originally developed on the same graphic engine as the mentioned Hidden and Dangerous from 1999. As the engine didn’t live up to the developer’s expectation, a completely new and much more refined, original engine called LS3D had been prepared. The noteworthy aspect of the game is the suggestively recreated climate of 1930s America, and the appearance of Lost Heaven, created based on historical architecture and design of that era. The game contains numerous references to pop culture, and cult classic gangster movies like The Godfather or Goodfellas.
PC / Windows
Recommended: Pentium III 500MHz, 128MB RAM, graphic card