Mafia (video game)

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. Set within the fictional city of Lost Heaven in the 1930s, the game's storyline follows the rise and fall of taxi driver-turned-mobster Tommy Angelo within the Salieri Mafia 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 of the game 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, also developed by Hangar 13, was announced in May 2020 and is scheduled to release in September 2020.


Mafias 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 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, compared to vehicles in other games that used pre-made damage models. 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 can be removed from most vehicles with physical means such as crash-driving, hitting with blunt weapons 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

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 will end up with the player being fined, and serious offenses 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 offices 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.



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 of 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.


In 1930, impoverished taxi driver Thomas "Tommy" Angelo finds himself strong-armed into helping two members of the Salieri family - Paulie and Sam - escape an ambush by the Morello family. Upon successfully escaping their attackers and reaching a restaurant owned by Don Ennio Salieri, Tommy is compensated for his help and promised a favor. The following day, he is attacked by thugs from the Morello family who tracked him down and attempt to kill him as revenge for assisting the Salieri family. Tommy escapes and reaches Salieri's restaurant to call in his favor. After the thugs are dealt with, Salieri offers to recruit Tommy into his organization. Having lost his job after his employers learned about his involvement with the Mafia, Tommy accepts, and soon becomes friends with Paulie and Sam as they complete various jobs together.
In 1932, Tommy becomes involved in attacks against the Morello family operations under order of both Salieri and his consigliere, Frank Colletti. At the same time, he develops a relationship with Sarah, the daughter of Salieri's bartender, Luigi. The relationship leaves him questioning his morals when he is ordered to eliminate an informant named Michelle during a raid of a Morello brothel. Finding her to be a friend of Sarah's who needed money to pay for her brother's medical care, Tommy goes against his orders and advises Michelle to leave the city, covering up his actions from Salieri. A year later, Salieri orders a hit on Frank following an ambush on a bootlegging operation, after he is found to be supplying information on money laundering activities to the authorities. Tommy agrees to the job, but finds that Frank was forced to do so to protect his family. Tommy allows him to leave for Europe with them, covering up his actions from his boss once again, before recovering the evidence against Salieri. Tommy eventually marries Sarah, with the couple receiving a daughter a few months later.
In 1935, Salieri declares open war on the Morello family, after Don Morello calls a hit on his rival while he is visiting his favourite restaurant. Upon preventing the assassination and killing Salieri's bodyguard for betraying his boss, Tommy helps to weaken the Morello family by eliminating a corrupt city councillor that supports them, and assassinating Morello's brother after several failed attempts. Eventually, Tommy, Paulie and Sam, go after Morello and kill him after chasing him into the countryside. By 1938, Salieri has full control of the city's rackets and territories. Becoming ambitious by this time, Paulie asks Tommy and Sam to help him rob a bank, against Salieri's permission, but both men refuse. When Tommy and Paulie steal crates of imported cigars on Salieri's orders, the pair find a cache of diamonds amongst the cargo. Suspecting Salieri knew this when he comes to check the cargo and sends the pair away, Tommy changes his mind and agrees to Paulie's heist, without Sam's help. Although the bank heist succeeds, Paulie is murdered the next day when Tommy goes to collect his share of the stolen money. When he goes to meet Sam at the city's art gallery to discuss Paulie's death, Tommy learns that Salieri ordered him to execute both men for conducting the heist behind his back, having betrayed the pair. Sam further reveals that Salieri became outraged when Tommy's failure to kill Michelle and Frank came to light, forcing him to hire others to kill the pair. Tommy kills Sam, avenging Paulie's death, but is forced to flee the city with his family to escape his former allies.
A few months later, Tommy returns to Lost Heaven to arrange a deal with Detective Norman, offering to give evidence against the Salieri family in exchange for protection for himself and his family. Norman agrees to the deal, and the resulting investigation and mob trials lead to most of the Salieri family being convicted and sentenced, with Salieri himself imprisoned for life. Tommy is moved into federal protection with his family to Empire Bay and enjoys a good life, until two men murder him on Salieri's behalf in 1951. As they drive off, Tommy narrates his lament over 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. 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.
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

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. 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.

Alternative editions

The game was released in numerous forms for PC, including various different bundle packages including other games, as well as big box versions for Poland and China. The Italian version of the game on PC features alternative artwork.
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.


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.


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, while GameSpot described the PC version as "one of the best games of the year" and rated it at 9.3/10. 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."
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. 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 for three games to vote for.
According to Take-Two Interactive, Mafia had sold 2 million copies by 12 March 2008. Its computer version received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association, indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom; and a "Gold" certification from the Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland, for sales of at least 100,000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.


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


On 13 May 2020, a complete remake of Mafia was announced by 2K Games, to be titled Mafia: Definitive Edition. The remake would serve as part of the Mafia: Trilogy, a collection of all three games that had been released in the series up until 2020, developed by Hangar 13. Unlike its sequels - Mafia II being remastered with new graphics, and Mafia III receiving mostly updates - Mafia would be rebuilt from the ground-up as part of its remake, with developers focused on expanding the original story, altering the game's setting to provide a new look to Lost Heaven, a major overhaul of gameplay including the introduction of motorbikes, and a new "original score". It is slated to release on 25 September 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Windows.