Mafia Review: Role-Playing Is Not Dead
By Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
Mafia is a text-based online game that is role-playing heavy. You are put into the shoes of a criminal starting off in the scene and it is through you efforts in doing crime that will skyrocket you from a lowly mugger into a respectable crime boss.
Mafia is like any other text-based game where you are given options on how to go around earning money and respect in the criminal community. The options you have range from doing petty crimes such as mugging, stealing, gambling and of course the occasional dirty job from some random big boss. The game has every staple action you would find in a game of this kind.
However, the things you can do in Mafia are limited, unlike other crime-based online games where you are given every criminal action done by man. At first glance the lack of criminal actions you can do would undermine the things you can do in the game, but the game is more than just your ordinary browser based game.
More Than Meets the Eye
Though it is quite true that the game’s actions are limited to the basic crimes one can commit, this is not the game’s main draw. Mafia is not just a browser based game where you only point and click a button and viola! You’ve practically played the game, Mafia centers more using the creative juices of players in the form of role-playing.
Majority if not all of the loyal players of the game are into roleplaying rather than just being the “I’m the toughest Mafioso around!” To earn the respect of people in the game you’d have to make sure you have a great hand in writing rather than being a good money earner.
They Even Have a Newspaper
As emphasis to the role-play as being the game’s major strength is the presence of a game newspaper which is named as The Mafia Gazette. The Maia Gazette serves as the game’s official in-game periodical. The paper reports in news style the various events that are happening in the game. This adds to the role-playing element the game already established by imprinting to its players that there is an alternate world where your character could eventually become a headline.
The Pitfalls of Mafia Role-Playing
One of the biggest problems you will be facing in Mafia is that you will read a LOT of things as you play the game. Mafia is not just a game that you can pick up right off the bat. You really need to take your time trying to pick the game up and see how you can jive to the existing structures that are already in place. This would also mean that you would have to follow a strict set of rules when it comes to the overall gameplay. The rules act more like as a mediating measure for the whole experience, this could in term be translated as a stifling measure for those players who abhor rules and regulations. Of course if you have been role-playing before, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, however, it is those who are new to the whole roleplaying bit that needs to be more patient to the whole process.
You do not become a good roleplayer overnight and that you would really need to stumble first to get around playing Mafia. The thing is, it is truly a reward for you to get the hang of role-playing in Mafia. It’s like earning the respect of the majority of the players in the game.
Communication is Important
The game also emphasizes on the importance of players communicating with each other. Your profile is automatically your Mafia forum account therefore eliminating the inconvenient process of making a separate account just to join the forums. The game also has a chat system where you can get to talk to players in real-time, however as far as I’ve played the game there has yet to come to a time where you get to talk to a lot of players.
Competition is Not Dulled
Even if the game is centered around role-play, you cannot forget that Mafia is a game too. The competitiveness of players in Mafia is quite high. There is no “no kill” period in Mafia therefore once you are sucked into the game, your character can be killed. Being a meal ticket for higher characters is a big probability for newbies, and it is part of the whole gameplay. You can cry to the admin about it but it would only fall to deaf ears. Dealing with the ruthlessness of the Mafia world is part of the gameplay, deal with it or you better chicken out.
If you disregard the role-playing elements the game has carefully fostered and nurtured, Mafia is just like any other browser based game out there, a game a lot worse than most of the new criminal themed games out there. However, the whole Mafia experience relies heavily on the role-playing aspect of the game, this serves as the replayability factor for most players and that if you really get hooked into the whole roleplaying bit it will serve as your main reason to stay.
Also, there is already a strong fanbase from Mafia veterans who would welcome you into the game. Though the welcome would be more like a trial by fire, the tough welcome serves as its endearing quality, because you worked that hard to get to that point. If you are the type of player that likes action and nothing else in your browser games then Mafia is not for you. However if you want more depth to your browser games and you want a really immersing experience Mafia is just for you.
– The forum and the website is interconnected, you won’t need a different account to join the forums
– A chatroom is available for real-time interaction
– The Mafia Gazette enhances the role-playing feel of the game .
– The game is visually bland
– The color contrast can really hurt the eyes especially for computers with old monitors
– The roleplaying rules can be quite hefty specially for players who are looking for a “I-join-I-click-I-win” game.