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First started in late 2007, Kasey's Mobile Game Review (then just a regular feature of Kasey's Korner) started as a simul-post between here and IGN. Later I realized there's no reason to post it twice, when I can use the traffic on my own site. so, here we are, in 2010, and the mobile game industry has grown a bit. What do you think?

KMGR of "Mafia Wars New York"

Digital Chocolate finally decided to go into more serious games, and the result is "Mafia Wars: New York", where you play an infiltration agent for the FBI trying to get into the Spenelli mafia business... and bring it down from within. There are essentially two games... an isometric real-time game where you must move around, sometimes avoiding enemies, sometimes actually kill enemies. The other game is a top-down driving game, similar to the original Grand Theft Auto, where you may have to chase, escape, tail, and so on.

The game gives you moral choices. In the isometric game, the more civilians, cops, and guards you kill, the deeper you sink to the "mafia" side. The more "evidence" you collect, the more "newspapers" you read, and the more you report in via payphone, and more gangsters you kill, the more you swing to the "law" side. Depending on how far you swing, you can get one of three endings: bad, good, and best.

The isometric portion is real-time, and you will have to exploit your advantages in order to advance, esp. in the later levels, when the odds are almost overwhelming, and some split-timing decisions must be made. You can sometimes find additional weapons, such as SMGs and shotgun, as well as molotov cocktails and grenades. You always have your pistol and fist.

TIP: During the stealth missions, where you must sneak, if you catch an enemy from behind, one punch will lay him out cold.

TIP: Your pistol will kill with 3 hits. SMG needs five hits. Shotgun... one or two.

The isometric missions are varied and are sometimes quite exciting. Some are just "kill the gangsters", and you can go "Rambo" on those. The idea is to spread them out a little, so you have time to shoot one three times before the other guy comes into range and start shooting. If you got a group, feed them a grenade or a molotov cocktail (if you got them). Against security guards... It's best to avoid them. They all have patterns, and it's possible to avoid detection, often by following behind them. What's more, you can hide behind boxes and such by pushing up against it, and shoot by popping out from behind them. You can also jump over such obstacles by pushing up against it and keep pushing.

The graphics are a bit simple, but nicely animated, and mission objectives are quite clear, but HOW you'd go about it is purposely left a bit vague, so you can decide on your own approach. You *could* go Rambo every mission and kill every single guard or gangster you come across, but you'll probably end up on the "lawless" side if you play that way. On the other hand, if stealth isn't working, perhaps it's time to go Rambo. For example, in the second to last mission, I tried about 10 times to infiltrate the compound by stealth before I realized it's not possible. So I started picking off the gangsters one by one until I cleared the map.

As mentioned before, there are often "evidence(s)" and "newspapers" (in those newsracks) and "payphones" you should go to in order to get the "best" ending. How you get there is up to you.

Shooting is done with auto-aim... If enemy is in range, a red reticule appears around him, then you shoot. If he's moving, your shot may not hit, unless he's coming toward you. Your pistol doesn't shoot that fast, so it's best to keep your distance. You have unlimited ammo for the pistol. Controls are pretty intuitive and responsive. If you keep getting killed, you're doing something wrong and must think of something else to do.

The driving game is a bit exciting, as the vehicles you drive fishtail around corners like stunt cars. And you will drive a variety of vehicles, though most behave the same way. The city has alleys, parks, and so on, and learning those alleys is the best way to escape from pursuit. Often, a mission requires you to survive X seconds, lose the pursuers, then finally reach a spot on the map for "exit". Those missions can be very tough, as the hostile cars are generated randomly, as are the traffic. You may have to try MANY MANY times to get past some of the toughest missions.

And yes, your driving skill (presumably, "close calls") and collisions with civilian vehicles are counted.

Overall game is a pretty slick game that keeps things exciting and varied, as each mission is a bit different. The mission writers squeezed a lot of mileage out of these two game engines, and managed to include a coherent plot to tie the whole thing together, and that moral choice thing is just icing on the cake. All in all, one of the better games in recent months. I can give this one an 8.5, though it does have a mature subject matter.

Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10 (hall of fame!)
Pros: lots of varied missions, two different game modes: isometric, and topbut tha-down driving, coherent plot
Cons: some driving missions WAY too tough, not all options are clear, such as how to get "best" ending

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