I am replaying Mafia City of Lost Heaven, a game I fondly remember as having one of the most atmospheric cities in gaming and one of the best story lines but is the reality really as good as my memories?
Well first the bad news: Combat is awful and clunky. Camera angles when driving are frustrating. The level design is often cruel with long difficult levels having few save points necessitating frequency reloads. I did remember that the game had an infamous unskippable race level which caused many players to quit and yes it is still a frustrating hurdle. It took me about twenty attempts on the humiliatingly titled "easy mode" before I got through. Spare a thought for those poor players who tried to play the game before a patch added "easy" mode to the race. Some of the levels are so unfair that wonder if was deliberate cruelty on behalf of the devs. Consider a mission where you must shootout with a much of hoodlums in order to retrieve a payment for your Mafia boss. The clunky combat controls pretty much guarantee you will take damage but just when it looks like you have killed the last of them you get jumped not once but twice. The second of these pop up assailants grabs a car and drives off with your money so you must give chase. He is driving a powerful sportscar and you have a jalopy. Your only hope of catching him is to shoot out his tyres before he leaves you in his dust. If you do finally manage to force him to stop (after several restarts most likely) then he jumps out and starts shooting at you. This is when you realise that you are extremely low on health and the game autosaved at the very end of the initial gunfight when you health was at its lowest ebb with no opportunity to regain health. Arggghhh ...
Happily I can report that the city is still wonderful. It looks great and it sounds great and it feels like a 1930's city. The cars are slow and awkward but that is OK because it is the 1930's. Cars should be slow and hard to drive. You can get out of your car and walk or take public transport. The other good news is that the story is still good with strong characters and a good plot.
So are my fond memories of the game invalid? I would say not. The things I remember fondly from the game are still very good. It is just that I somehow forgot how bad the bad bits were. I am not sure I can still recommend a modern gamer to try the game any more though (not that that is easy to do anyway as no digital download is available).