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Driven by a narrative that tells the story in flashback of Tommy Angelo, a member of the mob who wants out, the game positively oozes detail. From cars of the time through to a lively, living city to explore, you can't help but be drawn into the world that Mafia creates.
The key gaming elements are also suitably polished. The missions generally mix in some driving work along with tense action elements, and they're predominantly interesting, diverse and fun to play. Plus they don't have any qualms about pulling the rug from right underneath you.
There's a hybrid of game styles at work here, with the player needing to master both the driving and on-foot segments of the game. A useful tutorial at the start certainly helps there, and soon you're left to relish the surprisingly broad selection of vehicles and an arsenal that's as likely to have you handling a baseball bat as it is a tommy gun.
The game is glued together though by the exceptional mood and atmosphere that it generates. Frankly, it's a multimedia feast, and hugely engrossing for it. Perhaps at times it's a little over ambitious, and there are moments when the pace slows a little too much, but these are few and far between.
Ultimately, Mafia sets itself very high targets and pretty much meets them all. It's arguably one of the best three single-player games of the year, and it's a very demanding gamer who won't get their money's worth from it. --Simon Brew
There are 20 action-packed missions each of which have their own sub-quests. Luxury and riches are yours for the taking, if you do as Don Salieri has requested. From mob hits, car chases, shoot-outs and more, complete the unsavoury tasks the Family needs done and you will be handsomely rewarded. As well as the missions, there are over 12 square miles of the 1930s American city, with simulated traffic, landmarks and surrounding landscapes to explore, it's a sprawling city where opportunity is around every corner.
The environments pull you into the 1930s with their attention to detail and style. From seedy bars and hotel rooms to train stations and airports--every location is rendered in fantastic detail by the 3-D "LS3D" engine, such as the Lost Heaven International Airport and Chinatown. You get to try out some classic firepower, such as the Tommy Gun, Colt 1911, S&W model 27 Magnum, or pump-action shotgun. In addition, drive over 60 different vehicles (including the Model T, Roadsters and delivery trucks) with some of the most realistic car physics ever made in a game.