App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Only on a mobile device with GPS functionality could people pose as violent mobsters, build an empire of Wiseguys in real-world locations, and get into turf wars with other people and face no significant repercussions. Mafia Planet offers the latest social organized crime war technology at a price even The Family accountant would warm up to. It doesn’t exactly blow the lid off the genre, but it’s no cafone. That’s right, I tossed in a random mafia expression. Wannafidaboudit?
Location is a key factor in Mafia Planet’s gameplay. Empires begin wherever the game is initially started, and players will uncover new sections of the surrounding areas little by little as they progress. They’ll also create their own Mafioso structures, expand their territories, take up contracts and so on. Some jobs require specific tools (i.e. a crowbar, etc) before they can be tackled, which can be purchased from the shop or found on wandering snitches and other undesirables. And, of course, most activities are governed by energy, which recharges over time, and cash.
As well as the whole “building structures to earn cash on real-world locales” thing works, it’s not exactly something that hasn’t been seen before. Neither is the addition of random wandering enemies but the combination of the two elements makes Mafia Planet much more interesting to play than simply scrolling through a series of menus. It also has a well-implemented cartoony visual style that looks very polished but doesn’t try too hard to be realistic. It may not seem significant but it can be very tough to walk the line between cheesy cartoon and overly-serious photorealism but crowdplayce ApS pulls it off quite nicely.
It can be somewhat difficult to shake the “been there, done that” feeling, though. Mafia Planet does what it does well but it’s not the first, and anyone firmly entrenched in a different Family Feud might not find much to divert their attention. The extremely noticeable lag when zooming out as new areas are added to the map isn’t all that great, either. It’s an understandable nuisance seeing as loading location-based satellite data takes time, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying to have to sit and wait while the screen updates.
I think Mafia Planet has about a fifty-fifty shot of converting wannabe Cugines. But while it may not win over social gaming addicts who already have a significant time sink it’s certainly not a bad place to start for those without. No time like the present to get mobbed up, right?