Home Game Reviews Rediscovering Mafia in the Definitive Edition

Rediscovering Mafia in the Definitive Edition

Gangsters in HD: Navigating the Glorious and Gritty Streets of Lost Heaven

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Mafia Definitive Edition Cover
Mafia Definitive Edition Cover
Mafia Definitive Edition  Aim and Shoot
Mafia Definitive Edition Aim and Shoot

Title: Mafia: Definitive Edition
Developer: Hangar 13 Publisher: 2K Games
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Released: September 25, 2020
Platforms Available: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Article Reading Time: 9 minutes

Echoes from Lost Heaven: The Rebirth Review

The first installment of the now cult Mafia was initially developed in 2002 by IllusionSoftworks studio, which was a very popular story shooter that rightfully won the hearts of all players, especially those from the Czech Republic, where the development studio comes from and has permanently been etched in their hearts as perhaps the best game that is being developed in their native country… whether it was in terms of good gameplay, story, music or the legendary and absolutely amazing dubbing that everyone loved and still remembers. After many years of working on other parts of this already-can-be-said series, Hangar 13 Studio took over, and after the not-so-successful Mafia 3, they decided to recreate this game or remake the original episode after more than 18 years.

Tommy’s Transformation and Salieri Saga

Since this is a remake of the original work from 2002, the story again plays the leading role of the originally Italian immigrant from Sicily named Tommy Angelo, who works as a taxi driver in the American city of Lost Heaven in 1930. The country is still feeling the effects of the world economic crisis of 1929, which is one of the reasons why Tommy is forced to work the night shift, which earns more. At the end of one of these night shifts, he first meets a couple of members of the local Mafia working for Don Salieri, whose family is in a long and drawn-out war with the Morello family. The men mentioned above are Paulie and Sam, who are just on the run from members of a rival mafia in a car chase when a crash occurs just around the corner where Tommy is standing with his taxi and Paulie. Sam is looking for a replacement getaway car.

Mafia Definitive Edition  Killing Spree
Mafia Definitive Edition Killing Spree

The first person they see on the street is Tommy, of course, and so with a bit of persuasion at gunpoint, they force him to pick them up and drive them to safety. Once safely transported, Tommy receives a decent amount of money from Sam as compensation for the damage to the taxi, services rendered, and a job offer. Still, Tommy accepts only the money and goes back on his way. The next day, he returns to work again but is attacked by Don Morello’s men in the middle of his day shift for helping Paulie and Sam as their enemies. Tommy manages to escape, however, and after a long chase through the streets of Lost Heaven, he escapes to Bar Salieri for help, saying that he has changed his mind about the job offer. Don Salieri accepts it on the condition of passing the test, and Tommy becomes a full-fledged family member. His first years as a member of the Salieri mafia family are relatively quiet, but as the war between the rival mafia families escalates, Tommy begins to have a progressively different view of all the bloodshed he often comes into contact with or is even part of.

Cover Shootouts and Strategy in the Streets of the 1930s

One of the aspects of the game that players of the original Mafia fondly remember is the gameplay, which was traditionally a bit harder in period games but excellent and nicely balanced. This can’t be said about the new Definitive Edition right off the bat. The fundamental way the Definitive Edition’s gameplay differs from the original is that it is, like Mafia 3, a strict cover-shooter, often only partially positively influenced by the level design.

But if we start with the enemies, for example, they sometimes take an exaggerated amount of damage. At the same time, they deal (especially on higher difficulty levels) damage that is sometimes absurd, not to mention their sometimes impossibly good shooting accuracy and reaction time.

Another thing that underlines the negative side of all this is that the number of enemies you encounter in each mission is sometimes even enormous. It doesn’t help that explosive barrels have been added to certain “levels,” which seem to be more for laughs than for any significant use in the game, as the enemies are often so numerous that after killing a few of them, you can’t do much damage by exploding a barrel in their ranks. Also retained from the original game are the first aid kits placed in the missions, which heal a large part of your health, but you lose this health early on at a higher difficulty. The only thing that keeps you alive in the following first aid kit is the health regeneration of up to about 15%, which is simply an incomprehensible move by the developers to have a classic HP system and regeneration simultaneously.

Just like the original, the final edition takes place in a small open world city of Lost Heaven where the player has free movement but certainly can not expect from the city any side content or additional activities but only as a backdrop to the story, although the city is visually charming and does homage to its predecessor, the city has also been modified in some places to give a beautiful view of the surrounding area which adds to the aesthetics of the whole location.

Wheels of the Past

Speaking of the city, unfortunately, another stumbling block in terms of movement around it is the player’s limitation, specifically in missions… In the original game, it was standard to drive through the city at the end of most missions all the way back to the bar, enjoy driving through the city, and appreciate its unique 1930s atmosphere. The definitive edition needs to include this aspect. The missions mostly end with a cutscene, so the game doesn’t give the player the chance to drive around this beautiful city and enjoy it enough, which is a shame because the game itself is visually stunning, including a wide selection of cars that are also very nice to drive and have great audio. Lost Heaven itself also holds a lot of visual charm, yet it begs for more interaction. The driving of the vehicles in this game is delightful, and it is a sheer joy to go around the city with these old beauties from the 1930s based on actual period cars.

Mafia Definitive Edition  Streets
Mafia Definitive Edition Streets

Dubbing and Dialogue

Last but not least, it is also necessary to mention that Mafia is very popular in the country of origin, and that is dabbing, which was perhaps the most significant advantage of the original work from 2002. In the definitive edition, the original Czech dubbing is again at a very high level, although some legendary voices have disappeared. As for the more substantial, English dubbing is on an entirely different level from the original; in the original game, the English dubbing was bland and woefully average without emotion, while in the remake, it is first-class work. Hangar 13 took great care in this direction and even chose actors of partial Italian origin for a significant part of the characters, which is noticeably felt in the given characters’ accents and adds to the authenticity of the whole feeling about them.

Mafia Definitive Edition  Clown Shoots
Mafia Definitive Edition Clown Shoots

Soundtracking the Story

Towards the end of the review, it is appropriate to talk about the music, as with most games in general, which underlines the game’s overall experience. The music was great in the original Mafia and even better in the definitive edition. The game’s soundtrack was greatly expanded with new songs, which, however, are surprisingly nostalgic in the spirit of the original soundtrack, from which I felt as if I had heard this music before and it was not wholly new music. This definitely gives the game a big plus…

Legacy and Innovation

To conclude, this is a rather average and sometimes, unfortunately, very annoying cover shooter, which in individual missions, along with enemies and game filler, serves the player more quantity than quality, but with very high-quality dubbing, music, and a story that also hides a certain minor message which more than one player will think about

All this raises the question of how well this remake serves its purpose. Ultimately, Mafia Definitive Edition is a visually stunning, narratively strong experience. The core themes of loyalty, the allure of crime, and its cost resonate as strongly as ever. However, the changes in gameplay and the missed opportunities to breathe more life into the world might be a point of contention for returning fans. As a remake, it faces the eternal question: does it replace the original or exist alongside it as a different take on the classic tale?

If you like Mafia games we have another one for you – Mafia 2 Definitive Edition.

Buy Mafia Definitive Edition
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