Well, first the bad news: Most of the complaints from Brandt Sponseller (June '06 review)are pretty much true; moving the character is a little easier on the PC than the PS2, but there's no doubt the game requires a lot of patience and practice. I found that using some of the mods posted for the game on the internet to be useful, and in a couple moments necessary.
So why do I like this game? Of all the computer games I've played so far, this is the only one that allows me to think. There is considerable freedom of movement, and in its "Freeride" mode, you can actually ignore the intended goals and set your own. I like to use this freedom, sometimes, just to have my character walk around the city (and other players report similar experiences). Brandt Sponseller is right to complain that there could be more to see and do; I also think there could be more interaction with some of the background characters. But the design of Lost Heaven is fairly complete, and parts of it are downright charming. (The elements of nostalgia are very clear in some 'neighborhoods' of this town.) I do think that the graphics are very rich, and in looking through the games graphics files, I have to say that the programming does quite a bit more than what the graphic files suggest could be done. I also suggest a ride through the surrounding country-side, which reminds me a great deal of rural sections of downstate New York - very pretty indeed.
The storyline of the main game mode is a known strong-point. The character we play (Tommy) gets drawn deeper and deeper into a world of cruel violence and betrayal; his success in most of the missions actually requires a moral failure; greed is expected, killing innocents inevitable, deception a virtue. Many computer role-playing games insist on these elements - but, rather frighteningly, they assume that this is human nature, and so that's how you win the game. In Mafia, there at last comes a moment when Tommy has to realize that, in winning, he's lost.
In short then, this is a game for intelligent, reasonably mature players with considerable patience. I also strongly suggest finding the online mods and downloading some of them - there are parts of the game that do require more "health-point" than are given (at least for some average players like me), but there is more than one mod that fixes this problem; there are also "save-games" that allow you to play missions that you haven't won access to; that was important for me, because not only did I have difficulty with the infamous racing mission, but I also found it boring and unnecessary (I mean, come on, what Mafia boss is gonna ask a henchman to drive a car in a professional race!).
All this sounds like the game is very complicated; but I've played games that are much more complicated that didn't allow any of the freedom of motion - and freedom of thought - that Mafia does. (I got the feeling in "Max Payne 2" that my playing moments were mere footnote to the 'graphic novel' that unfolds the game - and I don't like being anybody's footnote.) So there's the trade off: patience, some practice, some tinkering, and you get a ticket to an entire city from another era, where you can act and respond as the mood strikes you. Obviously, I think it's worth it; the readers may want to play the game to judge for themselves.