Mob games for iPhone full review

Mafia Wars, Zynga’s hugely popular massively multiplayer online game, encourages players to rob, extort ,and kill as much as they can with the goal of amassing more power and money than Al Capone ever dreamed of cramming into his secret vault.

With some 10 million Mafiosi warring on Facebook and comparable numbers on MySpace, it was only a matter of time before Zynga expanded its empire to the iPhone and iPod touch, spawning a host of imitators. (Zynga’s game was itself an imitation of Mob Wars, which led to the inevitable copyright infringement case.

Mafia Wars for the iPhone and iPod touch is a slick derivative of Zynga’s Facebook godfather. The app has certain distinct flaws, but it still sets a high bar.

Jeff Witt’s ambitious but imitative iMobsters and The Godfather’s deeply flawed iMob Online are both variations on the same game. The essential questions facing each are: Is the game playable? Is it reasonably free of bugs? Is it fun?

I’ve been hooked on Facebook’s Mafia Wars for a few months now. For my labors, I am a Level 246 master boss with a carefully cultivated gang more than 450 strong, a real estate portfolio that would make Donald Trump envious, and an arsenal worthy of most “developing” nations.

So I was initially dismayed with the Mafia Wars app. Truth is, the Mafia Wars app will likely be an immediate disappointment to Facebook veterans who have spent a lot of time building up their characters. The problem is, the game isn’t linked to Facebook. Yes, you can import your Mafia for fights—gang size matters, even in the early levels of the game when you aren’t as well armed or defended. But all of those jobs you’ve completed and those fights you won on Facebook? Sorry. You start from scratch.

That’s a strange deficiency, I think. It’s not as if Zynga doesn’t know how to link its mobile games to Facebook. After all, Zynga’s Live Poker app uses Facebook Connect. Perhaps Zynga wanted players to start the game fresh and on a level playing field. But if that’s true, the developers shouldn’t have allowed players to import their Mafias.

In any case, any ill feeling should pass if you stick with the game long enough. The mechanics of the mobile Mafia Wars app are essentially the same as the online game, and it can be just as addictive. The iPhone version certainly looks better than the Facebook game, with more interesting graphics, animation, and a tight interface.

As with the Facebook game, you need to buy certain weapons to carry off certain jobs. You can retaliate against other mobsters who’ve attacked you while you were offline when you sign back on. You can visit the Godfather for money, extra Mafia members, energy, health and stamina refills, skill points, and the like. You can also purchase points, which is why Mafia Wars’ creators fall asleep at night atop enormous fluffy piles of cash.

NEXT: Facebook differences

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