Social gaming giant Zynga has released its latest game for iOS, Mafia Wars Shakedown. The free title is a spin-off of Zynga’s Mafia Wars and Mafia Wars 2, which have seen tremendous success on Facebook.
Shakedown sees players assuming the role of a mobster, with the goal of committing crimes, defeating boss characters, and stealing from other players. Gameplay is divided into two main types: jobs and stealing. Jobs are single-player focused, and task the player with robbing jewelry stores, intercepting shipments, blackmailing and other generally sketchy missions.
In order to perform them, players must have a certain number of job goons. Earlier jobs require two per attempt, with multiple attempts required in order to master a particular job. For completing a job, players receive experience points and cash, the game’s soft currency. If the player uses up all their job goons, they must wait for them to automatically replenish over time, or spend Respect Points, the game’s premium currency, to instantly refill them. When players master jobs, they also earn additional goons. They’re able to decide if they want to make these jobs goods, attack goons or defense goons.
The game world is divided into areas, each with a boss character. Once the player has managed to master all of the jobs in the area, they can attack the boss. Both the boss and the player have their own life meters, and attacking depletes them both. Bosses must be fought in several stages, however, so once the first is completed, players return to the current area and must master newer, more demanding jobs in order to get another chance at fighting the boss. Once all of the jobs have been mastered, and the boss defeated, a new area is unlocked.
In addition to single-player jobs, players are able to participate in theft attempts against other human opponents. This is done through an asynchronous method, which means that players can be attacked at any time, whether they’re actively playing or not. This element actually fits into the player’s overall strategy. Players attack one another to steal items such as precious stones. These items make up collections. Once the player has managed to complete a collection, they unlock an award, such as a new weapon.
The ability of one player to successfully steal from another is determined by a couple of factors, including the number of attack goons they have, and their attack strength. The latter can be increased by purchasing weapons for attack goons. Some of these can be obtained using virtual cash, while other, better weapons can only be purchased using Respect Points.
When the player wants to make a theft attempt, they’re shown a list of other players that have a similar number of goons. The other player’s attack strength is also displayed. If the player tries to attack someone who has more goons than them, the likelihood of winning decreases significantly, but can be helped through attack strength. By getting friends and other players to join their mafia, players earn additional goons, attack strength, and defense strength. Mafia members can be recruited through the app, added via unique codes, or by connecting to Facebook. The game doesn’t actually have any cross-over with Mafia Wars or Mafia Wars 2 on Facebook, however.
After players have managed to steal an item, they’re able to place bombs on it to help prevent it from being stolen by someone else. Bombs can be purchased in the game’s store using Respect Points. The player’s likelihood of being robbed decreases the higher their defense strength gets. Defense strength can be bolstered by purchasing armor for the player’s goons. Like weapons, some of this gear can be had using virtual cash, while the rest can only be purchased with Respect Points. The game’s shop menu mentions that animals will soon be added as items that can be purchased, but no further details are divulged.
Zynga is monetizing Mafia Wars Shakedown by letting players purchase additional cash and Reward Points using real money through in-app purchases. Units of both can be bought from between $0.99 and $99.99.
Mafia Wars Shakedown for the iPhone and iPod touch is available now for free on the App Store. It’s currently ranked at No. 22 on the store’s list of top free gaming apps. You can follow Mafia Wars Shakedown’s progress using AppData, our tracking service for mobile games and developers.