Mafia: Definitive Edition is out now, and the original came out way back in 2002, developed by Illusion Softworks and published by Gathering of Developers. It was a game I had been following for a while during development, as it captivated me with the city, story and setting following the life of a Mafia family. I still have my original PC copy, along with the original releases for both Xbox and PS2 to this day. Needless to say, I am a fan of the series since it was first announced.
The story follows Tommy Angelo, a cab driver in the city of Lost Heaven. One eventful night, two gangsters get into his cab and he has to escape the goons chasing them and get to Salieri’s bar where he is paid for the damage to his cab, and told to come see them if he needs anything. From there, you head home and carry on after your cab has been repaired taking folk to various places round the city. Whilst on a break, though, Morello’s men find you and start chasing you through the alleys. You head off, ducking and diving through alleys and over fences, until you reach Salieri’s bar where you are met and taken inside, while the thugs on the street are dealt with. From here, you’re invited into the family by the Don, after recommendations from both Paulie and Sam. This starts your life as a made man….
The most recent two games I have reviewed on DVDfever have been older titles re-released this year. First up was Kingdoms of Amalur, which had very little done to it, and then Crysis Remastered, which used a console build, instead of working from the PC original. Thankfully, Hangar 13 truly understands how iconic the original Mafia game is and have rebuilt it from the ground up – city and all. They have redone the music, made a new extended script, created better cutscenes and added a few decent quality of life improvements. This isn’t a case of just “take the original and redo the textures in a higher resolution and slap remastered on it”, even though that would have worked with such an amazing game.
Mafia: Definitive Edition takes place over 20 missions, and each one will have you driving to a location, then working through the objective assigned to you. You need to remember that this is not an open world game, even though you have the full city of Lost Heaven begging to be explored. You get a cutscene – usually involving Salieri – with information about the job, requiring you to then see Vinny for weapons, before driving to the location after speaking to Ralph who occasionally shows you how to steal a car… speaking of which, they handle like a steamboat on wheels when cornering at high speed and can feel a little twitchy at times. This is all down to the era, however, as they looked nice, but they were strictly to get you around. A thing to remember whilst driving is that if you are speeding or accidentally hit another car or pedestrian, you’ll likely be reported and the Police will investigate!
Hangar 13 have also added motorbikes, which makes getting around a touch easier at times, given their size and how busy the roads can be. The roads, themselves, have been widened so when being chased it is a little easier to get around corners. Navigation has a nice new way of showing you where to go – in games like GTA V etc you get lines on the road for direction. What Hangar 13 have done here, is adding period-looking road signs with arrows pointing to where you are heading, which then disappear as you go past them, as well as showing the route on the minimap. It means you can be watching the road instead of having to keep glancing at the map in the corner of the screen. In the opening mission, while escaping from Morello’s men you see markers on the minimap which, when you drive to them, you’ll see roadworks for which you can zip through and a chasing car will crash into them. The weird thing with, however, is they don’t show on the map after that when being chased… even though they are there. That said, they don’t do anything to the pursuer, either, if you go through them.
The first few missions see you learning the ropes, getting into fist fights, using baseball bats, and throwing Molotov cocktails at cars etc, to get revenge on what they did to your cab. Your first outing with a gun comes with the mission in which you have to join Paulie and Sam, collecting dues from a few places, the last one being a hotel away from the main city. Here, you must find a way in before using a bit of stealth, initially, to take down some of the enemies, but your first major firefight happens here. Armed with a pistol, you quickly learn to use the new lock-and-hide-behind-cover mechanic, first used on Gears of War, and seen in many games since. Enemies will strafe you with Tommy guns, shotguns and pistols, moving from cover to cover. You will always end up with multiple targets, all taking pot shots at you, from different angles, so timing when to move or pop out from cover is a must. Thankfully, you can move from cover to cover or onto a different edge with ease, but you cannot hang around too long, as enemies will flush you out using Molotov cocktails themselves – occasionally, this did become a bit frustrating as they can be over-used and kill you really quickly.
With gunfights, it can be quite difficult to complete head shots, since there is a bit of weapon sway when aiming, and the crosshair doesn’t have a central dot. When not aiming, you have nothing on screen even showing where you are roughly looking, but you do get a feel for it as you progress. I did, at times, find it really hard to see the crosshair when it was bright, during the day or when it is at night. Hopefully, they will look into this and sort it in a later patch.
Visually, Mafia: Definitive Edition is absolutely stunning. Like I have already said, the whole game has been fully recreated from the ground up. I sat – jaw hitting the floor – as the intro played out, given they have matched the original so perfectly with modern graphics. The scenes in the bar with Salieri and other story points have had extra lines added to dialogue, along with additional bits added to some scenes in order to bulk things out, and give the characters more personality. They have even corrected the final cut-scene to incorporate and tie-in events in which you take part in playing Mafia 2.
You can see Hangar 13 knew what they wanted to do from the off, and have pulled it off with finesse. Granted, there are a few minor bugs like ghosting on the Xbox One occasionally, near doors or really bright areas. The crosshair – being difficult to see in bright or dark scenes (I am wondering if this has something to do with HDR Lighting), and a scene where you are talking with Salieri going to pick up the safe cracker – had no sound at all. Lastly, this isn’t a bug, as such, but vehicles don’t stop at junctions sometimes unless you are travelling behind them. I have experienced numerous occasions where I will be driving down a road and approaching a junction to my left or right, with cars just not stopping and, instead, ploughing into you. This did occasionally happen on the original, but it is quite frequent on this.
You will be pleased to know that Fair Game, with the race, is moderately easier to get through than the original. A Great Deal, with the garage section, is easier than the original, thanks to being able to use cover properly. Not forgetting, by that time, you have the Tommy Gun, which makes taking out enemies a lot easier.
After you have completed the 20 missions, you have free-ride, in which you can explore and find a raft of collectibles such as fox statues, cigarette cards and numerous comic books. You may remember, that during the original game, you could go and see Lucas Bertone to steal specific cars. These side missions have been taken out of the main game and added to the free-ride mode as well as a few other cars which I discovered by a note left by Herbert Baskerville on the pool table in the bar!
Mafia: Definitive Edition is the first game I have actually completed and started again while doing a review. You will be able to get through it over a weekend or if, like me, over 4 days while taking your time and enjoying the ambience as you drive around the city and following Tommy’s story. You have the original difficulty mode option where you can’t keep reloading, or you will lose ammo in the clip and so on, and is great for a second playthrough.
This is one game I have been waiting for since it was announced. Mafia has always been an absolute masterclass of story-telling and scale, and Hangar 13 have taken the original title and improved it in every possible way. It really should not be missed.
- Developer: Hangar 13
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Players: Single-player only
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!