After much deliberation, I’ve decided to make a full post to take responsibility for something I’ve gotten flak for. At the start of my retrospective video on Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, I committed the gaffe of calling the game a “GTA clone”. Some may be puzzled at what may be wrong with that, and I’m still a bit on the fence on how wrong it really was to have done so. At first, I thought it’s like referring to caviar as “salty fish eggs”, which may upset connoisseurs, but is certainly true. But in this case, as I’ve found out, that would actually be a flat-out lie.
Negative reactions to the gaffe range from mild annoyance to outright indignation—the latter of which was expressed with a strongly-worded comment on the video. I personally think nothing of these reactions by themselves as I view any sort of engagement in my videos as a positive. However, the thought of getting something I worked hard on actually wrong gnawed at me, and it bugged me enough that I double-checked that aspect of the game’s history. That’s when I saw where I went wrong.
It is not a GTA clone.
It turns out Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven was already in development way before Grand Theft Auto III was ever a blip on the radar, even when the latter had been released later than the former. That’s what made me assume Mafia was simply adopting the GTA formula.
Then gain, it’s not even a “GTA formula” in the first place as Driver came out in June 1999 for the PlayStation. That game was meant to evoke car chases from 60s and 70s films like Bullitt and The Driver, the latter of which is said to be inspired by the 1967 French film Le Samourai.
(I should write about Le Samourai someday. I like that film.)
We can say Grand Theft Auto III and Mafia added more to that formula and defined the open world genre. It just so happened that the former became a lot more popular, but it shouldn’t mean the latter was merely a play off it. Mafia was not a derivative—it was just made and released during the heyday of its genre.
Does it take away from the retrospective?
I personally don’t think so, and it seems most of the viewers think the same. Most comments about the video are positive, and the like/dislike ratio is great. A couple of comments point the gaffe out, and only one of them is especially negative towards it. GTA clone or not, the video is still alright for the most part.
For just a second at the very start of the video, I stumbled a little bit. That should not have taken much away from the rest of the video. If you think it actually does, despite all the glowing things I said about the game throughout the whole 38 minutes of that video, then I don’t think it’s me who has a problem.
Despite that, I put up this mea culpa to admit fault and acknowledge the lesson I learned from it. If that’s not a good way to start 2018, then the world must be an even darker place than I remember it being. If you think what I did was irredeemable, then your mother is a GTA clone.
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