A Criminal Enterprise
Developed by Yotta Games, The Grand Mafia is just one of the roughly 10 billion crime strategy games cluttering up the Google Play Store. Most are cheaply-made freemium shovelware. And unfortunately, The Grand Mafia is not much different.
If it sounds like I’m not a fan of The Grand Mafia, I’m not. I didn’t expect much from this game, and I still came away disappointed. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: You play a young and ambitious member of the local crime family. Things are going pretty well for you until someone knocks off the Don and sets you up to take the fall. Now you’re back from the clink and it’s time for payback. I was rolling my eyes within seconds. And the rest of the plot isn’t much better. Characters are paper-thin stereotypes. A government conspiracy is revealed with all the fanfare of discovering a hangnail. My character was betrayed at one point and I couldn’t bring myself to care. The most exciting thing that happened was when I briefly thought the game was about to turn into a dating sim.
The main character looks like he belongs on the cover of a trashy novel. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and his consiglieri both seem to be seconds away from falling out of their tops. That’s before we even get to the fetish outfits. I lost all ability to take this game seriously when I recruited my fourth lieutenant, a woman in a sexy nurse costume. Eye candy is one thing, but The Grand Mafia seems to think that if they fill the screen with enough short skirts, bare midriffs and heaving breasts, I won’t notice how boring the actual game is.
Pandering and Repetitive
Let me tell you how a typical story chapter plays out. First, there’s a short, visual novel-style cut scene. You will then receive five tasks to accomplish. At least four of them will involve building or upgrading something. If you’re lucky, they might even have something to do with the clip you just watched. Periodically you’ll be told to rob something or fight a rival gang. These might sound like fun, but that’s a trick. Both involve watching low-resolution sprites slowly creep across the map to do battle with other low-resolution sprites. There’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it combat animation, then they return. If you’re lucky, there will be a big shootout at the end of the chapter. Those look cool at first. Then you realize they’re just glorified cutscenes in which faceless, low-poly goons spray bullets at other faceless, low-poly goons.
There are other activities as well, most of which happen off-screen. You can rob banks, steal artwork, launder money and hack computers. All of which consists of clicking a button and waiting for a bar to fill up. There are precisely two interesting activities, neither of which are all that great. The first is a basically inoffensive gambling minigame. It has a few common games of chance or skill like blackjack and the shell game, but you can only play a few times every day.
The Least Bad Part
The other best part of The Grand Mafia is the Campaign. Despite the name, it has little to do with the actual story. Instead, it’s a flashback showing the main character’s rise from street tough to made man. While that sounds like it could be interesting, it really isn’t. You can send up to five of your named enforcers off to fight rival gangsters. There are 21 enforcers to collect, although more may be available through microtransactions. Each is unique enough, I suppose, a mix of burly thugs and fetish models. Some are melee combatants, others fight from range, and all have unique abilities. The biker chick does bleeding damage, the sexy nurse heals people, the guy with the bat hits people with a bat, etc. Gameplay in this mode consists of auto-attacking while you wait for the abilities to charge up. Repeat as needed. It just barely held my attention and is the most fun you’ll find in The Grand Mafia.
Don’t imagine the Campaign is good, though. It’s just the least bad part of The Grand Mafia. I would say I hate this game, but that would imply I cared about it at all. Really, I was just bored. I could go on about the cluttered interface, dated graphics or in-your-face microtransactions, but that’s just the salt in the wound. It’s actually fitting that one of the most engaging activities is a shell game because that’s what The Grand Mafia is. It’s a scam dressed up as entertainment.
Is it Hardcore?
Functional but dull, The Grand Mafia is anything but grand. Lazy and unengaging, the real robbery is of your time.