Mafia (video game)

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Developer(s)Illusion Softworks
Publisher(s)Gathering of Developers
Producer(s)Lukáš Kuře
Programmer(s)Dan Doležel
Artist(s)Pavel Čížek
Writer(s)Daniel Vávra
Composer(s)Vladimir Šimůnek

Mafia is a 2002 action-adventure video game developed by Illusion Softworks and published by Gathering of Developers. The game was released for Microsoft Windows in August 2002, and later ported to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2004. Set within the fictional city of Lost Heaven during the 1930s, the story follows the rise and fall of taxi driver-turned-mobster Tommy Angelo within the Salieri crime family.

Mafia received positive reviews for the Windows version, with critics praising the game for its story and realism, while the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions both received mixed reviews. A sequel, Mafia II by 2K Czech, was released on August 23, 2010, and a third game, Mafia III by Hangar 13, was released on October 7, 2016. A remake, entitled Mafia: Definitive Edition, also developed by Hangar 13, was announced in May 2020 and released on September 25, 2020.


The player controls the character of Thomas Angelo from a third-person perspective. He can freely move around, using cars or public transport.

Mafia's storyline gameplay consists of driving, mainly easy city cruises between different locations, as well as chases and races; the rest of the game is based on third-person on-foot navigation and shooting - all inter-connected with cutscenes. In addition to the city and countryside, detailed interiors like the city's airport, a museum, a church, a hotel, an abandoned prison, restaurants, and Don Salieri's bar are included. Weather changes and day/night cycles are in use, though unlike in Grand Theft Auto, missions take place at a set time and the weather is fixed during the duration of the level.

51 classic American cars around the city can be driven in Mafia, plus 19 bonus cars (5 of which are racing models) unlockable after the main mode and the opening of a new game mode. Cars are introduced periodically - in the beginning of the game, early 1920s models drive on the streets of the city, while models from the early 1930s begin appearing in later game stages. All of the vehicles are based on real-world cars from the era, albeit renamed and redesigned due to copyright issues.

Police book players for minor offenses such as speeding or running a red light, and car accidents cause physical harm to the driving player. While other forms of transport are available, such as trams and elevated rails, they are only ridable and not drivable by the player.

Mafia is noted for having comprehensive damage physics on nearly all vehicles, even going so far as to make use of real-time deformation,[4] compared to vehicles in other games that used pre-made damage models.[5] While substantially more robust than their real counterparts, smaller and weaker vehicles stand less abuse before breaking down and finally exploding, than large armoured vehicles. More realism is added here compared to other games in the same genre, such as the ability to puncture the fuel tank, overheat the engine, and the ability to break transmission gears. Many exterior components (such as windows, tires, headlights, and bumpers) can be removed from most vehicles with physical means such as crash-driving, hitting with blunt weapons (fists, baseball bat) as well as firing weapons at them.

Finishing the main storyline unlocks the "Freeride Extreme" mode, which is essentially the same as Freeride, but with the added benefit of stunt jumps, side quests, and the lack of police patrols. Side missions in this mode range from the trivial, such as carrying packages or killing gangsters, to the extreme and sometimes outlandish, like chasing an alien spaceship or driving an explosive-rigged truck at a certain speed.

Major and minor offense system[edit]

The police department in Lost Heaven uphold the various laws that have been set. When these laws are broken in view of the police, they will respond by booking the player with offenses that can be "minor" or "serious" (similar to the Grand Theft Auto series' "Wanted" system). Minor offenses (such as speeding in a vehicle or running a red light) will end up with the player being fined (-$1,000 in Freeride mode, no monetary value in campaign mode), and serious offenses (such as physical assault, or visible display of a weapon) can lead to the player being arrested for the first offense, or a shootout with the police. A series of four successive minor offenses qualify as a "serious" offense. Police force increases with the severity of the player's disregard of the law to a point where police, now well armed, form blockades with tire spike strips in attempt to defeat the player while firing from behind their cars.

Certain acts which would catch police's attention in real life do not in the game, such as driving on the sidewalk or on the wrong side of the road. The police AI do not recognize computer AI violations. In freeride, the police will ignore violent actions against the player. Certain motorists in the game will resist with violence if the player attempts a carjacking. The AI of these motorists does not differentiate between the player and police officers in active pursuit, and motorists will attack police if they are nearer than the player. The police will not take defensive action against the motorist and will, if the player stays out of reach, eventually be killed by the motorist.



Map of Lost Heaven.[6]

Mafia takes places within the fictional US city of Lost Heaven, during the final years of prohibition in the 1930s. The city is situated in the state of Illinois, with a river dividing it into three boroughs: West Side, consisting of industrial buildings, the main port, and residential communities inhabited by Chinese and Italian immigrants; Central Island, consisting of the city's commercial district and municipal buildings; and East Side, consisting of both residential suburbs and slums, a bustling downtown district, and the city's local armory and stadium. The city features surrounding countryside that consist of a hydroelectric dam, international airport, and a race circuit. The game's main story involves two major mafia families - the Salieri family, and the Morello family - who fight for control over the city's rackets in the wake of the demise of a third mafia family. Alongside the two groups, the city also features a variety of smaller street gangs.

Much of the city's design, including the architectural styles, public transportation and landmarks, are inspired from real-life American cities of the period, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The overall size of the setting encompasses around 12 square kilometers.[7]


In 1930 in Lost Heaven, impoverished taxi driver Thomas "Tommy" Angelo is strong-armed by two members of the Salieri crime family - Paulie and Sam - into helping them escape an ambush by the Morello family. Although he is compensated for his help, Tommy loses his job and cab the following day when the Morello family target him in an act of revenge. Asking for Don Ennio Salieri's help, Tommy gets retribution upon his attackers and agrees to join Salieri's organisation. Assisting with the operations of Salieri's rackets across Lost Heaven, overseen by his consigliere Frank Colletti, he befriends both Sam and Paulie during the jobs they perform, while earning Salieri's respect for thwarting attempts by the Morello family to interfere in his business.

In 1932, Tommy begins a relationship with the daughter of Salieri's bartender, Sarah, after protecting her from some street gangsters. Under Salieri's order, Tommy and Paulie retaliate against the gang, but Salieri later reveals that its leader, whom Paulie killed, was the son of a corrupt councillor. Later, Tommy is ordered to destroy a brothel for switching its loyalties to Don Morello, and kill an informant working there. Discovering them to be Sarah's friend Michelle, who needed money to pay for her brother's medical care, Tommy begins questioning his actions and lets Michelle go in exchange for her silence. He later covers up his actions and assists Sam on a hit against a witness to the councillor's son's murder. In 1933, Morello begins using corrupt police officers to ambush Salieri's operations, and gains support from the councillor, who desires revenge for his son's murder. Following an ambush on a bootlegging operation, Salieri discovers that Frank has been supplying information on his money laundering activities to the authorities, and orders Tommy to kill him. Discovering he was forced to do so for his family's safety, Tommy allows Frank and his family to leave the country and covers up his actions, before retrieving the evidence against Salieri. Later, Tommy marries Sarah and starts a family with her.

In 1935, with prohibition ending, both Mafia families begin moving out into new rackets. Upon learning that Salieri is making moves to gain control over law enforcement, Morello attempts to assassinate him. Surviving the hit with Tommy's help, Salieri retaliates by declaring open war on his rival. To weaken Morello's position, the Salieri family target his operations, with Tommy assassinating the councillor, to reduce Morello's control on law enforcement and city politics, and Morello's brother Sergio, to reduce his control on the port unions. The war eventually concludes when Tommy, Sam, and Paulie assassinate Morello himself after chasing him into the countryside. By 1938, the Salieri family takes full control of the city's rackets, neutralizing anyone who attempts to stop them. When Tommy agrees to recover a shipment of impounded cigars, he quickly becomes disillusioned with Salieri's path upon finding that he is also smuggling diamonds.

Against Sam's advice, Tommy convinces Paulie to go ahead with a bank robbery he had been planning. Although the job is a success, Tommy finds Paulie shot dead in his apartment the following day and the stolen money missing. Upon meeting with Sam to discuss the matter, he quickly learns that Salieri ordered him to kill both men for going behind his back, and that Michelle and Frank were killed by Salieri's men after Tommy's past cover-ups were exposed. Surviving the attempt on his life, Tommy kills Sam, but is forced to go into hiding. With his former allies against him, he later contacts Detective Norman for help. After relaying his story, Tommy offers to testify against the Salieri family in exchange for protection for his family. Norman agrees to the request, and the resulting investigation and mob trials lead to most of the Salieri family, including Don Salieri, being convicted and sentenced.

After serving an eight-year sentence, Tommy is reunited with his family, all of whom are placed under witness protection and relocated to Empire Bay. Tommy lives a peaceful life with his family until 1951, when two men approach and fatally shoot him on Salieri's behalf. The game ends with a monologue narrated by Tommy, lamenting over how he and his friends wanted the good life but ended up with nothing at all, and concluding that it is important to keep balance in everything.


The game was in development since the end of 1998. It was codenamed Gangster and originally intended to be a driving game similar to Driver. Multiplayer modes were also planned and announced during development, but were eventually cut in the final release.[5] The release date was scheduled for 2000. Illusion Softworks initially utilised the engine used in Hidden and Dangerous but was replaced by LS3D as the previous engine did not fulfill the developer's requirements. Due to the change of the engine, the game was released two years later than planned.[8][9][10]

Mafia was ported to PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2004. Illusion was not involved in porting the game. Some of the features of the PC version do not exist in the console port, such as police patrols around the city in Free Ride, and some aspects of the game's realism and graphics.

The Italian version of the game on PC features alternative artwork.[11]

Mafia: Special Edition, released exclusively to the German market and is limited to 5,000 copies. It includes the base game, official Prima strategy guide, replica copy of the Lost Heaven Courier, poster, ball-point pen, notepad, postcard and sticker sheet.[12]

Story and theme development[edit]

"[As] I dug deeper, I began to see these men as people who are unwilling to obey the rules and would rather set their own. I wanted to tell the full story of a gangster- how somebody joins the Mafia as a young man, rises almost to the top and then falls down to the bottom." —Vavra on writing Mafia.[13]

The original cinematic inspirations of Mafia were films like Goodfellas and The Godfather, aiming for a more serious and mature tone for the game. Wanting to create a rich story line, director Daniel Vavra tried to mix drama, action and humour to heighten the game's realism.[14] The development team originally intended to put players in the role of a police officer taking on the Mafia; this was reversed when Daniel Vavra took in charge of writing the game's script.[15][16]


A DRM-free re-release of Mafia was released on in 2017 after being discontinued from Steam in 2012. The GOG release is essentially unchanged from the original game, albeit lacking the soundtrack due to licensing issues.[17][18][19]


Mafia was well received by critics and players upon release as more realistic and serious than a usual Grand Theft Auto-styled game. Mafia contains a much bigger city to explore than most video games of the time, with multiple forms of available transport in addition to an expansive countryside. Dan Adams of IGN gave the game a rating of 9.2/10,[34] while GameSpot described the PC version as "one of the best games of the year" and rated it at 9.3/10.[26] Game Informer compared it favorably to Grand Theft Auto III, and wrote that "from the living city in which you reside, to the incredibly realistic vehicles, this title has the heart and soul of a blockbuster."[20]

While the original PC game received widespread acclaim, the versions for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox were considered inferior by many critics, and received lower scores as a result.[27][28][35][36][45] In the Czech Republic, the country where the game's developers come from, the game received universal acclaim from both critics and players. Mafia was elected the best video game developed in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in a survey by Czech server BonusWeb when it received 3866 votes out of 13,143 as every reader could choose three games to vote for.[46][47]

Sales and awards[edit]

Mafia won GameSpot's annual "Best Music" award among computer games, and was nominated in the "Best Single-Player Action Game on PC", "Biggest Surprise", "Best Sound", "Best Graphics (Technical)", "Best Graphics (Artistic)", "Best Story" and "Game of the Year" categories.[48]

According to Take-Two Interactive, Mafia had sold 2 million copies by 12 March 2008.[49][50][51] Its computer version received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[52] indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom;[53] and a "Gold" certification from the Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (VUD),[54] for sales of at least 100,000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.[55]


A sequel, Mafia II, was announced on 22 August 2007.[56] The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 24 August 2010.[57] The third installment, Mafia III, was announced on 28 July 2015 and was released on 7 October 2016.[58]

Mafia: Definitive Edition[edit]

On 13 May 2020, a complete remake of Mafia was announced by 2K Games,[59] to be titled Mafia: Definitive Edition. The remake was the main focus of the Mafia: Trilogy collection, which also features remastered versions of Mafia II & III, all developed by Hangar 13. Unlike the other two, which received only improved graphics and all downloadable content packs released for the original versions, Mafia had to be rebuilt from the ground-up, with developers focusing on expanding the original's story, altering the setting to provide a new look to Lost Heaven, doing a major overhaul of the gameplay (including the introduction of motorbikes), and creating a new "original score".[60][61][62] Mafia: Definitive Edition was released on 25 September 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows, both individually and as part of the Mafia: Trilogy.[63][64] The remake received generally positive reviews.

See also[edit]


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  59. ^ Trilogy, Mafia (2020-05-13). "Live the life of a gangster across three distinct eras of organized crime in America. Discover the #MafiaTrilogy Tuesday, May 19 at 9am PT / 12pm ET / 5pm BST at". @mafiagame. Retrieved 2020-05-16. External link in |title= (help)
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External links[edit]