With “Mafia: Definitive Edition”, a true classic among gangster games is making a whole new comeback. Compared to other remakes of old games, “Mafia” does a lot differently – and better.
New editions of games more or less known from the past are all the rage. So far this year there have been remakes and remasters of “Warcraft 3”, “Resident Evil 3”, “Final Fantasy 7”, “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”, “Crysis” and “Kingdom of Amalur” – and probably a few others. Recently, a game called “Mafia” has also been added to this list, which is considered a classic among PC games. In my opinion, the new “Mafia: Definitive Edition” is one of the best remakes ever released.
"Mafia" was a game of the future in 2002
When “Mafia” came out in 2002, the game hit like a bomb. The game world of a 1930s American city, designed with attention to detail, unrivaled borrowing from gangster movies, strong narrative approach and, last but not least, the graphics that were all the rage for the time, turned the title from Czech development studio Illusion Softworks into an incredibly atmospheric game. In addition, “Mafia” also had a lot of storytelling skills. Granted, the story of taxi driver Tommy Angelo, who at first unwittingly slips into organized crime, isn’t original or Oscar-worthy, but it was pretty neat for a video game in 2002.
Tommy Angelo in Mafia: Definitive Edition.
To date, the "mafia" has hardly found serious imitators.
Open world games and big cities are now a dime a dozen. Nevertheless, the framework of “Mafia” is unique to this day. The fictional metropolis Lost Heaven created by the developers presumably creates the illusion of a Prohibition-era American metropolis, including elements of real cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. The locations and characters could come straight from a gangster movie. A crucial factor is that “Mafia” is actually not an open world game at all. It has a large open-ended game world, but that’s just part of an otherwise linear action adventure. There are no side quests in the game world.
The game world of “Mafia” is incredibly atmospheric.
In “Definitive Edition” too, “Mafia” dispenses with unnecessary distractions outside of the main story. Instead, the developers tried to condense the core of the game, which is the story. There are extensive and slightly reworked scenes and missions that complement the original game perfectly and at no time seem contrived or inappropriate. Unlike the remake of “Final Fantasy 7”, for example, the game time is not lengthened with new content, but the new content mainly serves to give more depth to the characters.
Improvements were made where improvements were needed
So while the foundations of “Mafia” are still very strong in 2020, other things have gotten worse. First of all, of course, there is the graphics, which has therefore been completely overhauled. The developers of Hangar 13 built the whole game from scratch – in the same engine used in “Mafia 3” from 2016. As a result, “Mafia: Definitive Edition” looks like a modern game with effects of really awesome light and time. Compared to genre heavyweights like “Red Dead Redemption 2” and “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,” the title doesn’t set any graphics standard, but it doesn’t drop noticeably either.
In particular, the effects of light and time look great.
The developers also worked on the controls and the gameplay. From today’s perspective, the original “Mafia” seems a bit clumsy in these areas. In 2002, for example, there were still no cover systems worth mentioning and the handling of weapons was rather cumbersome. With “Definitive Edition” not only has a cover system been introduced, but the entire control system has also been wonderfully adapted to today’s gamepads.
If desired, vehicles can be controlled with many simulations.
When handling vehicles, the developers offer a choice of two modes. While vehicles in normal mode look pretty much arcade-like like we are used to in other games today, cars from the 1930s are much more difficult to steer in simulation mode. The bottom line is that the second mode is more fun because it is a very good indication that this is not a modern runabout with comfortable suspension and perfect handling. With a little practice, driving in simulation mode is also easy.
Only one weakness has apparently been overlooked or could not be corrected: enemy AI. In the exchange of fire, opponents sometimes act like lemmings who run blindly towards ruin. This was already a problem in “Mafia 3” and so it is a construction site that Hangar 13 urgently needs to work on.
A new cast that fittingly replaces the old one
Even though the characters in the game are the same as in the 2002 original, the voice actors have been remade for the remake. Tommy, Paulie, Sarah and Co. received new votes across the board for the “Definitive Edition”, but they are by no means inferior to the originals. The face models of the characters in the game have also been adapted and modified. Therefore, it almost seems like a whole new cast is playing the well-known roles – a nice tip that shows the developers honor the legacy of the original, but at the same time manage to give the new edition a new layer of painting.
The cast of “Mafia: Definitive Edition”.
Conclusion: a new masterful edition
The developers of Hangar 13 have almost succeeded with Mafia: Definitive Edition. What worked well in the original has remained intact. And what has aged badly has been fundamentally revised in part. The only real point of criticism remains the lack of intelligence of the computer opponents – not enough to visibly disturb the very good impression.