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Mafia Video Games
Introduction: Mafia Based Video Games
The mafia has held the grip of American imagination for decades. With popular movies like Goodfellas, The Godfather, Donnie Brasco, and more, the appeal has crossed over to video games as well. Growing up, I played the a PC game called Gangsters: Organized Crime. It was my first taste of mafia strategy gaming. To date there has not been a good comparable sequel, although Gangsters 2 tried to be. Other games such as The Godfather (1 and 2) and Mafia (1 and 2) tried more vividly to bring the mafia experience to third person shooter realm, with varying levels of success. While many other games (like the famous GTA series) have played on the mafia theme, none of them have fully encompassed the experience like the above mentioned ones. This lens will highlight 1) Gangsters 1 and 2, The Godfather 1 and 2, and finally Mafia 1 and 2.
Gangsters: Organized Crime Gameplay Video
This provides a good overview of the general gameplay.
Gangsters: Organized Crime
A PC Strategy Game Straight out of The Untouchables!
Excerpt from Gamespot review: "Hothouse Productions' Gangsters is part business simulation and part empire builder. It has at its disposal an interesting premise: 1920s Chicago-style gang warfare....The game is divided into weeks. You split your hoods into teams and give them orders for the coming week. Under your command, these teams visit the local hangouts for potential recruits, collect protection money, expand your territory, run your businesses, and commit acts of violence (such as arson and bombing) on those local stores unwilling to aid your cause. These orders are then played out in real time, allowing you to watch your thugs in action and slightly modify their orders when the need arises. Then the week ends, and you repeat the process."
This game, despite its flaws, remains one of my favorites as well as a cult classic. Never before and never since has a game tried to blend classic action shooter with business economic simulator. Think of it as a combination between Red Alert and Sim City, with elements of The Sims thrown in for good measure. If you like strategy games and love the mafia genre, pick up this classic game from Amazon or Ebay.
Where to Get It
A Different Flavored Sequel
Excerpt from Gamespot review: "In Gangsters 2, you play as Joey Bane, a small-time mobster looking to avenge the death of his father and become big-time in the process. You begin in the city of Buffalo Falls, where you must hunt down a few of the men responsible for your father's death and establish a foothold for your operations. You hire gangsters and the muscle to protect them, and you send them out into enemy territory to wreak havoc on your rivals' establishments, kill their henchmen, and take over their operations........A typical scenario will go something like this: You begin with your territory established. There are a few illegal businesses already set up or a few predetermined locations where you can set them up yourself. Then you send gangsters out to protect your investments or hire local muscle to guard them. Some enemy gang members will inevitably come in and try to wreck your buildings, and your guys will kill them. Once you're set up, you send your guys to their territory and take key places. Then you either take over the objective location or kill the guy you're supposed to kill. And so on."
While the game interface is much more fluid and user friendly than the original, this game lacks the free form strategy simulation element that made the first so unique. Instead, the player is forced to follow a largely limiting linear storyline without the third person shooter attributes. Only get this game if you really want to add to your collection. Stick to the original if you want the real deal.
Gangsters 2: Vendetta Gameplay Video
This gives you a taste of the Gangsters 2 play.
The original third person shooter from EA Games
Excerpt from Gamespot review: "The Godfather puts you in the role of a peripheral character that didn't appear in the film, but nevertheless played a critical role in the story. While the character is by no means an official write-in from Mario Puzo or Francis Ford Coppola, he meshes well with the rest of the story, a large part of which is taken directly from the film......... You start off as an unofficial enforcer for the Corleone family, which means your job is to muscle merchants into paying you protection money. You do this by simply walking into a store and talking to the owner. Usually the owners won't simply give in, but you can intimidate them by smashing up their stores until they start to see things your way. In a new twist added for the Xbox 360 version of the game, sometimes the business owners will ask you to do a favor for them in exchange for a cut of the business. You might have to off a drug dealer who is scaring customers away from a bakery, or take out a troublemaker who refuses to leave a hotel. These favor missions bring some welcome variety to the extortion game, but they're so simple and easy that they'll hardly have any effect on the way you play the game. Once you take over a business, you get a payout on a weekly basis, and there are dozens of shops you can shake down all throughout the five boroughs of New York. Some stores are fronts for illegal rackets, such as brothels, gambling dens, and illegitimate importing operations, and you can buy out these rackets to further increase your weekly income."
I would highly recommend picking yourself up a copy of this classic. While there are minor flaws, EA Games actually managed to produce a half-way decent rendition of the classic tale by Mario Puzo and retold by Francis Ford Coppola. It provides interesting strategy elements as well as your traditional third person shooter action. Buy It!
The Godfather Review
Gamespot sums it up nicely here.
Where To Get It
The Godfather II
Excerpt from Gamespot review: "You play as Dominic, an key member of the Corleone family who has somehow managed to make it through the epic movie trilogy without ever wandering into camera shot despite apparently being involved in a number of key scenes. As one of Michael Corleone's most trusted men, you've been groomed to head up your own family, and after a brief introductory sequence set in Cuba, the game proper gets under way in a diminutive New York where you're instructed to set about making a name for yourself. From this point on, much of your time is spent seizing and attempting to retain control of businesses run by rival families in order to make money and, ultimately, force said families to retreat into their compounds where you can eliminate them entirely."
The game itself is an unfortunate sequel. It bears none of the finesse of the first Godfather, or the authentic time period feel of the original. It was almost as if EA Games slapped together a game that looked good on the outside, but was hollow on the inside (not enough time in development). For true mafia aficionados, this game will most likely let you down. Look to the original game for a more authentic experience.
The Godfather II
The disappointing sequel...
Where To Get It
An early masterpiece
Excerpt from Gamespot review: "Most of Mafia's 20 large missions are split into sections. You'll usually watch one of the game's long but well-done in-engine cutscenes, get assigned a few weapons, choose a car, and then drive through the city to a given destination. At this point, a separate level--generally a third-person action sequence--is loaded. After you complete the level, you'll usually drive home. Some missions mix the structure up a little, and some offer an optional bonus task on the drive home. The most serious complaint that can be made about Mafia is that the city isn't as tightly integrated into the missions as it is in Grand Theft Auto III. Often, driving across the city is more of a mood-enhancing interactive cutscene than a gameplay element that poses an actual challenge. This is fine in the beginning, but by the time you've reached the halfway point, you may find yourself wishing that you could simply fast-forward through these parts."
This game is truly and epic masterpiece. With the power of modern computers, I would recommend getting this game for the PC as that was the best optimized version of the game. Think of this game as Grand Theft Auto with a fantastic and authentic mafia storyline. This game truly makes you FEEL that you are in the era in the shoes of a two-bit up and coming mafioso. It is a must have for mafia video gamers!
Awesome opening video for the original classic Mafia game.
The latest mafia themed video game
Excerpt from Gamespot review: "The story kicks off in 1945, and you meet Vito Scaletta, the son of Italian immigrants who, along with his smart-mouthed best friend Joe, seeks out the fastest ticket to a big fortune. The duo starts small: a jewelry store heist, black-market sales of gas coupons, working over some uncooperative dockworkers, and so on. Eventually, the stakes are raised, and Vito and Joe prove they've got the guts to whack a guy just because a mafioso with the moola tells them to. Vito's occasionally stoic, occasionally fiery demeanor makes him an excellent leading man. He and his cohorts are not Italian caricatures, but are thoughtful and (yes) moral men who adhere to principles that may seem barbaric to most people but provide a strict ethical framework within "the family." Mafia II never holds back when depicting this world's everyday violence. Whether the murder is a cold-blooded, no-questions-asked assignment or a vicious execution driven by Vito's seething rage, the killing is typically accompanied by copious spurts of blood and profane deathbed curses. Vito and Joe are showered with hedonistic rewards--alcohol, women, even houses--and never delude themselves with a greater purpose. At one point, Vito reminds Joe why they do what they do: to have stuff. And you have to appreciate his honesty."
This game is the most recent mafia themed game to hit the markets and it does measure up well to the competition. It does an excellent job once again of placing you in the time period and putting you in the shoes of a gangster. The story and acting reads and views like a movie script. The missions are both fun and detailed down to the last element. The only shortcoming is that the game appears unfinished at the end stages, as if the developers ran out of time and were pushed to an early release. Definitely pick this game up, especially if you want up to date graphics and can't be bothered with the old version. While not "better" than the original, Mafia II is still a solid game that will bring you hours of entertainment and authenticity.
Mafia II Video Review
An in depth video of the latest Mafia-themed video game to hit the market.
Where To Get It
An Action Mafia Sim RTS
Gangland is an eclectic gaming mix by Whiptail Interactive. It is part action RTS, part business simulation, and part strategy game. The game borrows some from the Gangsters series from Eidos Games. There are a variety of illegal establishments to set up, including chop shops, brothels, gambling dens, illicit distilleries and more. As the gang boss, you put out contracts on other gangsters, orchestrate drive-by's, and determine where to establish businesses. Combat occurs in real-time from a top down perspective. As you rise through the ranks from low-level gang leader to high profile mob boss, you will take over the city one block at a time.
The game is a fun diversion for fans of the simulation top down style of play. Fans of the original Gangsters games might like to try this one out, but if you are looking for a fully cultured Mafia experience you will not necessarily find it here. The game is meant to be played a little tongue in cheek. It generally received above average reviews from most major gaming sites.
Gangland Video Review
A video review of this mobster RTS-action sim.
Omerta: City of Gangsters
Omerta is a relatively new entry in the mafia/gangster video game genre. It features game design and game-play similar to Gangsters and Gangland, but features some updated graphics and a story-line to follow. This game in many ways was billed as the spiritual successor to Gangsters: Organized Crime. For fans of this classic game, Omerta promised to bring back many of the addicting game qualities. While the end result was so-so, many hardcore gangster sim gamers were definitely disappointed.
I would advise you to try Omerta out for yourself. If it is your first experience with mafia simulation games that it will be a good experience. However, if you are looking for the sequel to Gangsters, then you will definitely be disappointed. The game has so many good ideas, but they are poorly executed in the end.
Omerta: City of Gangsters Video Review
A video overview of the latest gangster simulation game.
Where to Get it
XBOX 360 version.
PC instant download.