A worthy heir to the Mafia throne.
Mafia was originally released in 2002 and developed by Illusion Softworks and published by the Gathering of Developers. I have limited memories of the first Mafia game as I was an Al Jr but all I remember is the car race and the mission prior to it. Illusion Softworks would go on to be acquired by Take-Two and renamed 2kCzech. They would go on to make Mafia II in 2010 and would assist Hangar 13 with the development of Mafia III in 2016 before shutting down in 2017. Then, a remake of the game was announced to be developed by Hangar 13 and as said by Haden Blackman in the PC Gaming Show, everything was rebuilt from the ground up including assets, gameplay, and cinematics. After having played a few hours of the game I figured I’d give my two-cents. Graydon Webb, Josh Miller, and I talked about this game in the second episode of W.I.N and I was excited about it just by looking at cutscenes from the PC Gaming Show. Also *Spoilers*
The Story of Mafia: Definitive Edition
The story of Mafia: Definitive Edition hasn’t seemed to be radically different from how I remember the game. The game is set in 1930 during the Great Depression which makes things make sense. Unlike the most recent entry in the series Mafia III, and to an extent Mafia II, you are not a part of a criminal family-like Mafia III‘s Lincoln Clay or a “bad seed” like Mafia II‘s Vito Scaletta. Instead, you are in the role of everyman cab driver Thomas Angelo who gets pulled into the mob life when two men hold him at gun-point and demand he drives them away from the cars filled with gangsters who want to see them dead.
What I liked about this first mission of Mafia: Definitive Edition is the fact that there is no impetus for Tommy to initially join the Salieri crime family. Having Tommy continue his life as a cab driver, albeit for a short amount of time was a bold move in showing how seductive the life of a Mafioso, more so the power and money that comes along with it fully pulls Tommy into the life.
The mission where Tommy continues his life as a cabbie shows you, even more, why the life of a mobster is worth it by giving you many reasons to cross the line and get in with the bad guys. The locale of the game is ‘Lost Heaven’ which is modeled after Chicago in the same way that Mafia II‘s Empire Bay is basically New York and how Mafia III‘s New Bordeaux is that game’s version of New Orleans. Your brothers-in-arms in Mafia are Sam and Paulie who are the men who essentially take you hostage in the game’s opening.
The Game Itself
The gameplay is very similar to that of Mafia III and is just as enjoyable. The gunplay is just as fun as Mafia III and in my personal opinion, leaps and bounds more enjoyable than Mafia II. The real difference in Mafia: Definitive Edition and both the later games and the original is that there is now a linear story mode and an option “Free Ride” mode that is basically a free-roam mode if you want to explore Lost Heaven.
Each mission has you going through each mission of the original game. Yes, this includes the race mission that I talk about any chance I get. This actually brings up my main problem with the game and that is the driving controls. You are given two options when it comes to the car controls and you aren’t necessarily given controls rather settings for the driving: Regular and Simulation. Neither is good in my book. Regular is just bad and Simulation gives me horror flashbacks to the driving in Mafia III. My main gripe with the regular setting is that when you are in a chase it feels practically impossible to pull off a good turn.
But enough of the driving, the combat is more akin to Mafia III than Mafia II. As each mission proceeds, you are given weapons by the Salieri weapons dealer Vincenzo. There are different strategies you can make when it comes to combat, you can do things stealthily, or be more along the lines of a crazy melee combatant with a bat or close quarters with a shotgun. There is a mission early in the game that feels very much like a Hollywood blockbuster. You are sent by Don Salieri to track down some miscreants who are doing no good in the area. It turns out there are more than initially thought, which means that you and Sam must go through their HQ.
As with any videogame firefight, there are red barrels so I instinctively shot at the grouped together and the resulting explosion was so powerful it caused an electric transformer to fall and electrocute anyone who hadn’t already been killed by the explosion. This mission was the precursor to the infamous Church shootout mission so it was ultimately worth it. The police detection in Mafia: Definitive Edition works in a way similar to Mafia III in that once you lose them the number of stars your crime is will start flashing and will eventually go away.
Presentation and Quality
The visuals compared to its original 2002 form and the later installments are leaps and bounds ahead of what has been done with the Mafia games. Each character looks like the actor portraying them and the amount of detail is fascinating. Also, this could just be me but Don Salieri from a visual point looks like an aged Bob Iger. But then again that is just what my mind thinks goes together.
The voice acting in this game is something else too as there isn’t a line that sounds wrong or has a poor lip synchronization moment. When it comes to the presentation they got this completely right. The only person in this game that I knew from other works was Dameon Clarke who is well-known for his portrayal of Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2 and the critical darling Tales From The Borderlands. Hands down the greatest story told in the world of Borderlands and the best Telltale game. Other than Clarke, all unknowns except for a certain actor who was in Mafia III in a completely different role. In the PC Gaming Show interview that Haden Blackman did where he mentioned that Mafia: DE was a “from the ground up” reboot and that everything was rebuilt he was not lying. All the assets and the game genuinely look like they’ve been rejuvenated.
Mafia: Definitive Edition looks like the type of game I will end up enjoying the further into it I get. The gunplay is tight, the visuals are good, and despite my issues with the vehicle gameplay I am certainly going to enjoy the rest of the game and I honestly think you all will as well. You can hear me talk about Mafia: Definitive Edition on the next episode of Player’s Club.