Mafia (video game)

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Developer(s)Illusion Softworks
Publisher(s)Gathering of Developers
Director(s)Daniel Vávra
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 the Xbox consoles in 2004, in North America and Europe. The game traces the rise and fall of Tommy Angelo, a fictional mafioso in the 1930s.

Mafia received positive reviews for the Windows version, with critics praising the game for its realism, while the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of the game received mixed reviews. A sequel, Mafia II by 2K Czech, was released in August 2010, and a third game titled Mafia III by Hangar 13 was released in October 2016.


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 cruise 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 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 1930 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,[1] compared to vehicles in other games that used pre-made damage models.[2] 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.

Law and order[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". 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.[3]

Mafia takes places during the prohibition years of the 1930s, within the fictional American city of Lost Heaven - a coastal city that incorporates architectural styles, public transportation and other notable landmarks from the real-life cities of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles from the same time period - and the surrounding countryside around the city, encompassing around 12 square kilometers.[4]


In 1930, Thomas "Tommy" Angelo (Michael Sorvino), a local taxi driver, is strong-armed into helping Paulie (William DeMeo) and Sam (Matt Servitto), two mobsters working for crime boss Don Ennio Salieri (George DiCenzo), escape from an ambush planned by members of the Morello family; he is compensated for his trouble with money and a promise of assistance if he requires it. The next day, Tommy lures two Morello thugs who attempt to kill him to a bar owned by the Salieri family where they are promptly gunned down. As repayment, Tommy is recruited as an associate. Two years after joining the Salieri family, the restaurant's bartender, Luigi, informs Tommy that strange men have been harassing his daughter Sarah (Cara Buono), who passes on the information to Salieri. Outraged at the news, Tommy and Paulie are tasked with scaring the punks off, though while completing the job, the pair end up killing one of the leaders of the gang who turns out to be the son of a prominent city councilor. Following the job, Salieri's consigliere, Frank (Dan Grimaldi), sends Tommy to plant a bomb in one of Morello's brothels and then later tasks him with eliminating an informant within their ranks. Upon learning that the informant is Sarah's close friend Michelle, Tommy spares her life and sends her out of the city. He subsequently marries Sarah, who a few months later gives birth to a daughter.

In 1933, while collecting a shipment of whiskey for bootlegging, Tommy, Paulie and Sam are attacked by policemen on Morello's payroll, barely escaping with their lives. The next day, Salieri orders a hit on his consigliere, after Frank provides evidence of his money laundering activities to the authorities, assigning Tommy to the job. As part of the mission, Tommy is given a sawn-off shotgun to execute Frank by Salieri's gun expert Vincenzo (John Tormey). Chased to the airport, Frank eventually explains his motive for betraying Salieri was due to his desire to protect his family. Revealing to Tommy where the evidence he took was hidden, Frank is allowed to live, faking his own death before fleeing to Europe. Two years later, Salieri survives an assassination attempt by his traitorous bodyguard Carlo, and in retaliation, travels to his apartment with Tommy to kill him, before eventually focusing his attention on weakening the Morello family, ordering hits on Morello's underboss and brother Sergio, as well as a city councilor in his pocket, both of which Tommy successfully carries out. With his rival's power greatly weakened, Salieri orders a hit on Morello (John Doman), with Tommy, Paulie and Sam chasing his armored limo through the city streets and into the countryside, where the trio eventually kill him. With Morello dead, Salieri seizes control of his territories throughout Lost Heaven.

In 1938, the increasingly ambitious Paulie asks Tommy and Sam to help him rob a bank without Salieri's permission, only for both to turn him down. But while doing a job for Salieri to steal several crates of imported cigars, Tommy becomes suspicious behind the motive for the heist, suspecting that he and Paulie are being used. His suspicions are confirmed while Sam leaves to pick up Salieri, when Paulie finds a cache of smuggled diamonds amongst the cigars. Upon Salieri's arrival at the warehouse the crates were brought to, he politely declines Tommy's offer that he and Paulie help to shift the stolen goods for him, with Paulie claiming that the Don intends to keep the diamonds for himself. Following this, Tommy decides to go along with Paulie's bank job without Sam's help, which proves successful. However, when Tommy seeks his share of the proceeds the following day, he finds Paulie dead in his apartment, whereupon Sam calls him and advises him to meet with him at a local art gallery. Once there, Sam reveals that he told Salieri about Paulie's bank job and of the pair's disobedience, whereupon he was ordered to execute them as a result, further explaining that Salieri was outraged to learn that Tommy never killed Frank or Michelle when he was ordered to. Although Tommy kills Sam and flees from the gallery massacre, he learns that both Frank and Michelle were eventually found and killed.

A few months later, on the run from his former allies, Tommy arranges a meeting at a local restaurant with his police contact, Detective Norman, and details his entire story about his life in the Salieri family, eventually brokering a deal for protection for himself and his family, in exchange for evidence and his testimony against the Salieri family. As a direct result, Don Salieri receives life imprisonment for his crime, with most of the Salieri family convicted and sentenced for their activities, some of whom are executed. Tommy, meanwhile, is transferred in safety by the FBI, under a new name, to a new life in Empire Bay. Several years later, in 1951, an older Tommy is watering the grass outside his home when two men confront and murder him with a shotgun on Salieri's behalf. As the pair drive off in their Ford Thunderbird, with Tommy dead on his lawn, he laments how he and his friends only wanted the good life but ended up with nothing at all.


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.[2] 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.[5][6][7]

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.

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10][11]


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.[12][13][14]


Review scores
Game Informer9.25/10[15]7.75/10[16]8/10[17]
Game RevolutionA−[19]C+[20]N/A
GameProN/A3/5 stars[18]N/A
GameSpy4.5/5 stars[24]N/A2/5 stars[25]
OPM (US)N/A3.5/5 stars[32]N/A
OXM (US)N/AN/A7.3/10[33]
PC Gamer (US)91%[34]N/AN/A
The TimesN/A2/5 stars[36]N/A
Aggregate score

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,[29] while GameSpot described the PC version as "one of the best games of the year" and rated it at 9.3/10.[21] 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."[15]

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.[22][23][30][31][40] 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 even 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 for three games to vote for.[41][42]

According to Take-Two Interactive, Mafia had sold 2 million copies by 12 March 2008.[43][44][45] Its computer version received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[46] indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom;[47] and a "Gold" certification from the Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland (VUD),[48] for sales of at least 100,000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.[49]


A sequel, Mafia II, was announced on 22 August 2007.[50] The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on 24 August 2010.[51] The third installment in the series, Mafia III was announced on 28 July 2015 and was released on 7 October 2016.[52]


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  2. ^ a b Bracken, Justin (25 August 2000). "Mafia Preview - Page 2 - Civilians, Game Engine, & Damage Modeling". Neoseeker. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Mafia The City of Lost Heaven, časť druhá". Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  4. ^ Smith, Edward. 10 Years On: Interview With Mafia Director Daniel Vavra, 29 November 2012. Retrieved on 5 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Czech". Retrieved 13 May 2014.
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  7. ^ Martin Šebela (hadl). "Czech". Retrieved 13 May 2014.
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  10. ^ Hladik, Roman (29 August 2017). "My Life in the Mafia (Games): Looking Back on the Series' 15-year History". PlayStation.Blog. Sony Interactive Entertainment. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  11. ^ Roman Hladik (30 August 2017). "Mafia – Celebrating 15 years in the life - MAFIA III". Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  12. ^ Roberts, Samuel (19 October 2017). "Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven comes to GOG, years after vanishing from Steam". PC Gamer. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  13. ^ Ariyasinghe, Pulasthi (19 October 2017). "Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven is purchasable once again after five years - Neowin". Neowin. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
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  28. ^ John Wrentmore (31 March 2004). "Mafia - XB - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on 6 October 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  29. ^ a b Dan Adams (29 August 2002). "Mafia Review (PC)". IGN. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  30. ^ a b Douglass C. Perry (26 January 2004). "Mafia (PS2)". IGN. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  31. ^ a b Douglass C. Perry (30 March 2004). "Mafia (Xbox)". IGN. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  32. ^ Thierry Nguyen (April 2004). "Mafia". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine: 98. Archived from the original on 28 June 2004. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  33. ^ "Mafia". Official Xbox Magazine: 74. June 2004.
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  52. ^ Mike Futter (28 July 2015). "First Mafia III Trailer Coming August 5". Game Informer. Retrieved 28 July 2015.

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