Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mafia Driver

I would have liked to review an Easter-themed game for today's post, but the first one I came across, Easter Rampage, made me feel so good about the holiday that I couldn't bring myself to do it. Besides, I found a game that's awful every day of the year in Mafia Driver.

Imagine if you were to take Grand Theft Auto and remove everything fun about it. Take out all the high speed chases, gun battles and random acts of violence, and you'd probably be left with something that looks very similar to Mafia Driver. The plot of the game is that you're an undercover cop trying to infiltrate the Mob as a driver.

So far this sounds like it's going to be a pretty cool game. But the truth is apparent from Level 1.

Now maybe my vision of the Mafia has been skewed somewhat by Hollywood, but I never imagined parking skills were the first thing mobsters looked for in a driver. I would have imagined one's ability to drive really fast would have been more important, but I was clearly wrong.

And it keeps going on like that. This is it. This is the game. The point of this level isn't so you get used to the controls - parking is all you do. Drive to a spot, park there, drive to another spot, repeat.

And there are at least seven levels of this crap.

At least it looks nice; at least I can say that about the game. There's no point driving faster than ten mile per hour, but at least I look good. If I have any complaint here it's with the camera's annoying habit of shaking back and forth whenever I'm between two areas of the level.

Some areas are remarkably frustrating, like on Level 3 when I have to get around one vehicle while avoiding cars coming in the opposite direction. Crashing is far too easy as the car is incredibly sensitive, and you'll total it regardless of how fast or slow you were driving. I barely nudged the car in the screenshot above, yet suddenly the whole right side of my vehicle is crumpled up into a burning heap.

I am trying here; I'm just having a little bad luck. But then maybe if the Mafia invested in some cars that weren't weak pieces of crap, I'd do better.

God damn! So I'm crashing everywhere and on top of that I remember that I'm playing a parking game. It's not even a real game! Why are parking games so popular? Parking is the least enjoyable part of driving. Unless you're a valet who really, really loves his job, what pleasure can be taken from a parking game?

As the game goes on and we seem no nearer to wherever the hell it is I'm supposed to be taking the Mob bosses, things start to get a little tricky. First I'm required to snake around other cars, and then I'm faced with some maniac who slides back and forth across the street at high speed.

OK, so how come he's allowed to drive like crazy while I take the most dangerous driver's ed class in history?

OK, that was totally not my fault, and I expect to share insurance information with that son of a bitch, right after Big Vito and Donny are finished breaking my legs with iron bars.

It should come as no surprise that the nutjob prevented me from getting much further, and in the end it doesn't matter because at no point in Mafia Driver did it appear I would get to do any actual driving. I commend Baller Arcade (oh my God) for putting a new spin on the parking game, but that doesn't hide the fact that it's still a parking game, and parking games will never be cool or fun, no matter how many cranky Sicilian back seat drivers you include.

Oh, and Happy Easter, and shit.

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