Gamescom will be here in mere hours, and the staff at OnlySP are looking forward to quite a few titles, including Rise of the Tomb Raider, Quantum Break, Halo 5 and more. For a few of us though, the most exciting official reveal will be that of of Mafia III, set for August 5th on Youtube. Well… it’s actually not a “full reveal”, all that’s promised is a trailer according to this tweet:
— Mafia Game (@mafiagame) July 28, 2015
But hopefully this means we’ve got much more information to come, and soon. Still, don’t be shocked if this is a simple tease, and the game is still a ways off. After all, it took more than 8 years for Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven to get it’s sequel in 2010. Regardless, there is excitement amongst the loyal fans of this somewhat niche series. Maybe it’s the difficult combat and driving, and unforgiving shooting, or the interesting stories with nods to mafia tales both from real life and the movies. Probably it’s the combination of everything the above, with two games that provide an authentic “mafia” experience, based on how we view organized crime through history, without sugar-coating things — yes the criminal life can provide fortune and sometimes fame, but the price our anti-heroes pay is significant.
So in anticipation of the Mafia III trailer reveal at Gamescom, we’ve decided to take a quick look back at the two games in the Mafia series with a couple of Classic First 15 segments.
Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven
Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven came to us from Czech Republic-based Illusion Softworks and developer Godgames aka Gather of Developers. Illusion at that time was best known for Hidden and Dangerous, and you can see some of the basics of their shooting mechanics in Mafia. The Mafia series has often, wrongly in my eyes, been called a period-piece Grand Theft Auto. While there is a certain degree of freedom of movement, actual free-roaming is confined to free-ride mode. Instead, Mafia and its sequel is focused on storytelling. Check out how City of Lost Heaven begins.
In the first game we focus on the store of one Thomas “Tommy” Angelo, a Lost Heaven taxi driver who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on one evening. Tommy ends up playing the part of getaway driver in the middle of a gang war, his passengers members of the mafia under Don Ennio Salieri. This quickly gives players a taste of some of the gameplay they can expect.
Immediately, Angelo is at the wheel attempting to get away from rival mobsters. His passengers and their assailants exchange fire, and if they’re close to the vehicle, Tommy and his friends begin to take damage. But that’s not all players have to be aware of. Not only is Mafia’s driving mechanics modeled far more realistically, and thus more difficult that other series such as Grand Theft Auto, with their easy arcade-style controls, but the game also features an intense damage-system. This means the car takes damage and will eventually break down. And be careful what you hit and how fast you’re going — even moderate speed in a head-on collision is almost guaranteed insta-death for Tommy or one of his friends riding shotgun.
Once the initial chase is over, Tommy is instructed to make his way towards Salieri’s bar. He’s thanked with some money and the offer of more work. He initially turns down the idea of working for the criminal organization. But, how much of a mafia game would this be if the story stopped there? Through a series of events Tommy Angelo is slowly drawn into the world of organized crime, and before long he becomes a made man himself. His journey there and eventual attempt to escape the life make for an excellent game.
Mafia II – 8 Years in the Making
Though a critical success (on PC at least) and seller of 2 million copies, a sequel to City of Lost Heaven was not a sure thing. An official announcement on the existence of Mafia II wasn’t issued until the summer of 2007, 5 years later. In control now was 2k Czech, formerly Illusion Softworks, which meant publishing under the 2K Games banner. Things were fairly quiet until the summer of 2010, prior to Mafia II’s launch, when we finally began to get details about the game. Our time frame had move from the 1930’s to the 40’s and early 50’s. And it starts like this:
It’s easy to see that Mafia II sets a slightly different tone from the start. Protagonist Vito Scaletta already has a bit of a bad streak in him, helped along by the influence of his buddy Joe. When Vito gets nabbed during a petty robbery, he’s given a choice, fight the Axis in Italy, where he was born and thus can make use of his native tongue, or head to jail. Vito enters the war and players are immediately thrown into combat. While the first game saw a car chase, it developed at a somewhat slower pace, and took a while for firearms to become part of gameplay. In Mafia II, they’re there from nearly the beginning. The sequel showed off refinements to fighting and shooting mechanics, while keeping some of the driving feel of the original.
Again the story focuses on the ascent of our anti-hero as he becomes deeper embedded in the world of organized crime, and with his new-found power, Vito must also face up to the consequences of his actions. Much of the story is impacted by his life-long friendship with Joe. Later DLC would even give players the chance to experience life from Joe’s point of view while Vito was at war. There’s also an excellent bit of fan service, with a sequence that ties this game back to City of Lost Heaven.
Both games have good stories that are enhanced by the developer’s commitment to making an experience that feels authentic to the time period and the subject matter they deal with. This goes down to the types of cars, the architectural style and the clothing they wear. Perhaps for me though, the greatest thing they chose to do was the licensing of period-authentic music. I had a vague interest in certain types of Jazz and oldies, but the first time I heard Django Reinhardt near the beginning of Mafia, I became a huge fan. They really add to the credibility of the world that Illusion/2k Czech are selling here, and I’m most definitely buying.
For the latest on Mafia III, the other games at Gamescom 2015, and of course the latest news, previews and reviews of single player gaming experience, stick with us here at OnlySP.