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“Fuggedaboutit!”. Now that we have that out of the way we can talk about the newest/oldest entry into the Mafia series, Mafia: Definitive Edition. Developed by Hangar 13, the same developers responsible for Mafia 3, the updated version serves as an example of how to competently remake a game. Aside from visual upgrades, which should be expected, the team went all out in several other areas for this upgrade. I’ll cover those below, but let’s just say that this isn’t Mafia 2: Definitive Edition. The words I want to use to describe that game are unbecoming of a game reviewer. I still feel violated, but nevertheless.
I’m fairly certain I played this game in its original form back in 2002. I’m also fairly certain that I left my keys on the nightstand next to my bed but, low and behold, they aren’t there. The point is, I had to do a bit of research on the various aspects of the older version for the comparison, starting with the visuals. The developers have basically taken the game and built it back up in Mafia 3’s engine as far as I can tell. It’s hard to quantify how much of an improvement it is. I’m not one to get into the finer details of exactly how it all technically comes together as I have no idea. This isn’t a fresh coat of paint though, this is an entirely new game built in an entirely different engine. Whereas Mafia 2: Definitive Edition was more of just a tune up to an existing game, Hangar 13 really put the time in with this title. Character models are completely new, the environment is refreshed with amazing detail and the vehicles look outstanding. There are a few corners cut here and there but the main characters also look incredible and are brought to life by a revised script and new voice-overs. However, some of the “less important” characters don’t seem to have that same level of detail. They look good, it’s just that you can tell they weren’t a high priority.
The problem you have with certain remasters/remakes is that while everything looks nice and shiny, gameplay is largely ignored. Going back and playing games, even from the early days of this generation, can be a struggle at times because of dated mechanics. You could say, they were left “swimming with the fishes” (that was a reach, I’ll do better). Not here though. Going in, this was my primary concern. Everything has been built to today’s standard. Buttons are responsive and controlling your character is easy and intuitive. However, the game starts to show it’s age a bit with the driving mechanics. They’re similar to Mafia 3’s in that everything feels super heavy. In a game where a large portion of your time is driving from location to location, this is pretty disappointing.
Another aspect to note is that this game is very linear. There is a “free mode” that lets you run around and explore the city but it’s not nearly as engaging as the main game. This might turn some people off but in an industry of giant open world games, limiting your scope to enjoy the narrative experience works really well. I would have preferred to have the option to explore between missions instead of having an entirely different mode though.
For you collectible hunters, there’s plenty here for you to find. Different magazines, comics, and cigarette cards are scattered throughout the city. For those who have a hard time searching for them, they are marked on your map when you get close enough. I was able to grab over half of them without paying much attention.
Mafia games have always told a great story and this game is no exception. As a matter of fact, this is really the only part of the game that carried over from the original game (for the most part). You play as cabbie Tommy Angelo who, after a chance encounter, soon finds himself entangled in the organized crime life. While the story is largely unchanged, it has been fleshed out to make the game feel more robust. The game also features an entirely new score to compliment the rest of the rebuild. I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice it right away. It just adds to the experience without bashing it over your head, which I suppose is a good thing. The supporting characters are all well done as well; Pauly especially. During the game, he becomes almost like your sidekick. There are others of course, but he definitely stands out. I do have a couple of issues with some of the motivational aspects of the story. Without spoiling anything, let me just say I think certain relationships could have been more fleshed out in order to provide a deeper incentive for Tommy’s decisions throughout the story. Short of that, everything you’ve come to expect from an organized crime story is here and then some. There’s also a small epilogue scene that will have those true fans of the series say “Ahhhhhh, there it is.” Not going to get specific, but stick around until the end.
This might be the shortest review I’ve written in a while. I spent about 20 hours with Mafia and it left me wanting more. So much in fact, that I started to download Mafia 3 while I was writing this. Just when I thought I was out, they keep pulling me back in (you’re welcome). Honestly, as a standalone game, $40 might be a bit steep. The asking price is more representative of the work that went into the game than the finished product. That sounds pretty harsh when I read it out loud, but that’s not my intention. The finished product, while smaller in scope, is brilliantly done. While not on the same level as something like Final Fantasy VII: Remake (not in terms of quality necessarily, but rather the size of task), it’s still incredibly impressive and should be looked at as a standard for remakes going forward. Keep in mind, you can also pick up the entire trilogy for $60. All three games with all of the DLC is an incredible value at that price. In all honesty, they really made you an offer you can’t refuse. I’ll see myself out.
Final Verdict : 8.5
Fun Factor : 8
Technical Prowess : 9
Time Investment : 20-25 hours
Replayability : 6
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