Gamebytes and Bots
Gamebytes and Bots
Mafia screenshot
Mafia screenshot
Mafia screenshot
Third-person Shooter

MAFIA: Aug 2002
DEVELOPER: Illusion Softworks
GENRE: Third-person Shooter
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Very Positive


MAFIA: Aug 2002
DEVELOPER: Illusion Softworks
GENRE: Third-person Shooter
MODES: Single-player
STEAM RATING: Very Positive

REVIEW: Played Aug 2010
REVIEW: Played Aug 2010

Although Mafia scores in the upper percentile in most of the ratings there is the odd dissenting voice and I must admit to having mixed feelings about this game myself. It is undoubtedly one of the most frustrating experiences I've encountered with its ability to engender feelings of like and dislike at the same time. At first I found this game's title to be somewhat of a misnomer for although the overall setting concerns our character's stint in the Mafia, the first 5 levels are all about driving and precious little else. By the time I reached the race course level, I was heartily sick of missions that not only involved driving from one side of the city to the other, but were timed as well. This situation could have been relieved had there been more missions of a different kind scattered in between, but these were few and far between and the inevitable tedium of driving could never be avoided. This is not to say the reviews are wrong, but it's a matter of taste and spending most of my time in a car is not my thing. However, to be fair, the game starts to adopt more of a variety in the missions once past the race, but driving always plays a major part in accomplishing them.

Mafia screenshot

Our character is Tommy Angelo a taxi driver who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Helping Mafia boss Salieri's men out of a difficult spot places him on the radar of the opposing mob and the only way to escape his own demise is to join the Salieri family. Tommy's loyalty and skills are tested along the way as his status rises with each successful mission. Having been a cab driver, he is sent on missions that involve any driving. As he advances, the types of cars available for his use also increases. As they become unlocked in the game, they can either be obtained from Frank the mechanic or stolen from the streets. There are also side missions obtainable from Bertroni's garage, which will unlock more cars.

The setting for the game is a city called Lost Heaven bearing a certain resemblance to New York. Due to the heavy involvement of driving, you will need to learn your way around. It's fraught with dead ends and indirect routes and rarely has a straight run from one end of the city to the other. A map is available while in any car, but during car chases it's easy to find yourself going in the wrong direction. It's very realistic with traffic lights, stop and yield signs, pedestrians, tram cars and very bad drivers who are determined to get in your way. On close inspection the graphics are not realistic, but the broad, overall view does a very good job of making the city seem real. IOW, it does the job it's meant to do as there is little need to closely inspect it.

The game is very challenging, but this is often achieved by it being weighted in favour of the AIs. Although they carry exactly the same weapons, in the hands of the enemy they seem far more accurate and deadly. At times Tommy can empty one or two clips into someone before they have the grace to fall over, but he can be killed by one shot. You are also often responsible for keeping your fellow mobsters alive and if they die the mission fails. This game is hard and I had to replay missions quite a few times in order to find a strategy that worked. I'm not sure forcing many replays is the best way to arrange a games difficulty, but fortunately you can also bypass the long repeating cut scenes and get straight back to trying again. Mafia cannot really be described as a shooter in the sense that all upgrades pertain to cars and not to the weapons. The weapons remain the same throughout.

After completing some missions, Free Ride becomes available whereby you can roam freely about the city collecting money, fighting gangsters, destroying cars and buying weapons. After completing the game, Free Ride Extreme is unlocked where you need to accomplish certain tasks in order to obtain special cars that can then be used in normal Free Ride mode.

The glamorization of the Mafia may cause moral issues for some as there are really no good guys in this story. Although Tommy experiences doubts about his choices, he's still a mobster, albeit with a heart. There is really no originality in the actual story itself; it's a fairly typical gangster script. However, as I said, the game's concentration is on cars and the detail is spent on these as they each perform and handle differently. If driving is your thing, this game is for you. It received great reviews at the time and is very fondly remembered by most, but from now on, I think I'll be avoiding games with such a heavy emphasis on driving.

It would be fair to say that Mafia, for the most part, is about cars with a scattering of shooting missions in between. For those of you who are car affectionados, you will probably love this game and I can appreciate the rewards of accomplishing a mission in order to unlock and be able to drive the large variety of makes and models. The UI features a showcase for all unlocked vehicles.

UPDATE 2012: Mafia became unavailable for sale probably due to licensing issues with the soundtrack.

UPDATE Oct 2017: Mafia has been resurrected from the dead and was available as a temporary exclusive from Gog. However, it is now back up on Steam as well with an edited soundtrack.

Game Issues Experienced

About the patch for disc copy. Be advised that this patch will eliminate using the cheat Gamespot on the race level. That cheat can only be used before patching. The patch will add "easy" and "very easy" modes to the race, although it doesn't help by much. Some people have found this so difficult that it might be worth not patching the game till after this level. I didn't try this, though, as I had already patched it before I knew.

In extreme ride, you cannot save subquests without returning home first after each. If you don't, you will have to do all of them again if you get into a jam. I learned this the hard way when I got stuck with the wrong car on a mission. The game then failed getting too close to the waving guy and all progress in extreme ride was lost.

Tommy will sometimes get stuck in a doorway, but you can get him out with a lot of button mashing.

Development Note

Original plans for Mafia included a multiplayer and a racing mode, which did not make it into the finished game. The PC version of the game received high marks, finding more favour than the Grand Theft Auto games due to its realism, seriousness and larger maps. However, the later port to consoles did not fair as well and was criticized as an inferior version of the original.

Six years after the release of Mafia, Illusion Softworks, the developer, was bought by Take-Two Interactive and renamed 2K Czech. In Aug 2010, the long-awaited sequel, Mafia 2 was released. On July 28 2015, 2K announced that Mafia 3 was in development by the newly formed studio called Hanger 13.

NOTE: For the vast majority of PC games, many digital distributors will offer "Online" CD keys that can be added to your Steam Library
Other games in series:   Mafia 2,   Mafia 3
  • Genre: Third-person Shooter
  • Developer(s): Illusion Softworks
  • Publisher(s): 2K
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS2, Xbox
  • Release: Aug 2002
  • Mode(s): Single-player
  • Media: Download, Optical Disc
  • DLC Available: No
  • OS: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, 8, & 10
  • CPU: 1.4 GHz
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Hard Drive: 3GB free space
  • Video: 3D Graphics
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0 compliant
  • Shader Model:
  • Input for PC: Keyboard & Mouse
  • DRM: Steam, Gog Drm-free
NOTE: Minimum requirements are those officially published at the time of the game's release.
Official Site - Take-Two Interactive
Achievements: None
Patches: Steam Auto Update
Mafia Scene
To indicate what kind of performance you may get, compare your specs to the system this game was played on. You can also try  Can You Run It
  • Version:  CD
  • OS:  Windows XP SP3
  • CPU:  Athlon 64x2 4200+ 2200MHz
  • Ram:  4GB
  • Disk Drive:  DVD/CD
  • Video:  ATI Radeon 4830
  • Shader Model:  4.1
  • DirectX:  9.0c
  • Resolution:  1650 x 1050
  • Input:  Keyboard & Mouse
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