Taking place in Chicago during the Roaring Twenties, Mob Enforcer has you playing as Jimmy "Machine Gun" DeMora, a foot soldier in Al Capone's army. This first-person shooter sees you rising through the ranks of the mob as you pay off cops, perform hits, and dispose of informants through ten levels of bloodied action. Nine weapons are available, including the Browning BAR M1918 automatic rifle, Thompson sub-machine guns, 12-gauge shotguns, sniper rifles, and more. Dynamite and Molotov cocktails are also on tap to take out the competition's distilleries and speakeasies.
Mob Enforcer is a first-person shooter set in what could be painter Edward Hopper's vision of 1920s Chicago. The night-shrouded streets of this game are muted studies in stone gray and brick red. Other than the occasional civilian, only mobsters and police appear in the pools of light beneath the city's street lamps.
A quick glance at the cover of Mob Enforcer's box suggests a Mafia wannabe: Rise through the ranks of the underworld by running errands for a mobster. Once one begins playing Mob Enforcer, the differences between it and Mafia become clear: what Mob Enforcer lacks in terms of Mafia's epic scale (and great driving mode), it more than makes up for in manic energy, feral cunning and sly humor. The mobster hordes of Mob Enforcer can effortlessly sprint for blocks and then sneak with the stealth of a cat on velvet. And, since this is a game built from a mobster's perspective, Mob Enforcer offers, just for yuks, cops who need to repeatedly catch their breath throughout a pursuit.
Mob Enforcer doesn't so much have a story as it has an excuse for superb production design outfitted with vintage armament. It's Gangland Chicago decorated with what we have come to accept as the symbols of the 1920s: old cars, snappy hats and Thompson submachine guns. A few props here and there, and on with the action.
And there is plenty of action. The player, in the first-person role of Jimmy "Machine Gun" DeMora, advances through the game by doing the bidding of none other than Al "Scarface" Capone. In order, Jimmy must track down and rub out a snitch, trash stores protected by other gangs, kill off rival gang bosses, blow up a brewery, break out of jail, bribe the chief of police, execute an informer in his holding cell at the 13th Precinct, steal the payrolls of stores run by other gangs, prevent the demolition of a hotel where Capone is being held captive and, finally, get Capone safely out of that hotel through waves of thugs wielding everything from .45s to Molotov cocktails. (Note: Capone is flammable.)
Playing as someone who can't be shot transforms Mob Enforcer into a player-guided movie with puzzle elements. Think of it as a summer blockbuster where one can choose how the story is going to unfold and how each of the baddies is going to meet his end. And prepare to be surprised when that end turns out to be particularly spectacular.
Such a moment occurred in the basement of the plush Lexington Hotel. I found myself being fired upon from above by a thug standing on a metal stairway landing ... standing next to a yellow fifty-gallon drum of something. I took a shot at the drum and it exploded, sending the thug (now aflame!) hurtling down the stairs toward me. Real Die Hard-type stuff. The poor fellow didn't survive ... which was fortunate because I was too busy laughing with delight to do much of a job of defending myself.
Summer Blockbuster mode relieves the player of the need to painstakingly learn (by endlessly dying, reloading and trying again) the location of every gunman on each map. Not that that can even be done. There is a certain amount of randomizing that goes on in Mob Enforcer, making it impossible to know exactly where, for example, all of the police are at any given moment. Or when a civilian might stroll through the line of fire.
And if blasting through waves of bad guys, picking off cops and avoiding the ventilation of civilians doesn't sound like enough to do, try finding the ten piles of cash stashed in clever places around each of Mob Enforcer's impressively large maps. I've been at it for a while now and am still not sure where all of the loot is.
Not that I mind. Walking the dark streets of Mob Enforcer's Chicago and noticing how the Jupiter engine allows the leaves in the trees to respond to the wind of the Windy City is just another of the subtle joys of this title. That and wandering Taylor Street, Mob Enforcer's one daylight level, and appreciating the care given to detailing the already fading logos on the sides of its buildings.
Mob Enforcer has no music other than the disappointing riff that runs under the main menu. The only recurring sound in the Chicago street scenes is the rumble of the elevated train. Once all running and gunning are done, there is time to pause and appreciate how the production design of Mob Enforcer captures the 1920s pre-noir universe of Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op. This is a game that is way better than it has any need to be. Just wish there were a bit more of it.
Mob Enforcer gives the impression of having shipped without its final mission. The game's last level begins with this promising comment: DeMora must first help Capone evacuate the Lexington Hotel before he can complete his final mission. Once the player delivers Capone safely to the exit of the Lexington Hotel, however, the game just ends. So much for the final mission. Unlike the previous levels, there isn't even a tally of the amount of money found, the number of shots fired or the accuracy of the shots fired. Al's okay. End of story. Game over.
Mob Enforcer, built on the LithTech Jupiter engine, looks great, loads its levels quickly and plays smoothly. It also installs completely to the hard drive. Thank you, Touchdown Entertainment and ValuSoft, for not treating your customers as if they were mobsters.
The depth of the options menus puts many bigger-budget games to shame. Virtually everything about Mob Enforcer can be tweaked. And some elements, like the fountains of blood that spew from the bad guys as they spin gracefully toward the pavement, can simply be turned off.
People who downloaded Mob Enforcer have also downloaded:
No One Lives Forever, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way, Mortyr II, Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter, Made Man: Confessions of the Family Blood, Mortyr (2093 - 1944), Freedom Fighters
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