By Dean Moses
Game: Mafia Definitive Edition
Platform: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Rating: M for Mature
As gamers we have become used to lazy high definition ports of older titles to the current generation of consoles. It is due to this that Mafia Definitive Edition is so refreshing. Developer Hangar 13 has completely recreated the entire experience, much like a remake of a major blockbuster with only the story remaining the same as its 2002 counterpart.
Life of an Outlaw
As good as the gameplay is—and it is good—The mafia experience lives and dies by its narrative. Like the classic gangster movies before it, Mafia Definitive Edition takes us on an epic tale through the life of a 1930s mobster. Tommy Angelo was a taxi driver in the fictional city of Lost Heaven when late one night he is forced to drive two gangsters on a getaway by gun point. It is this chance encounter that soon leads Tommy down a life of crime and a series of out-of-control escapades that would have Jessie James blushing.
Although this remake has been reconstructed from the ground up, some vintage gameplay mechanics have been left in place, which works well for the overall aesthetic of the title. For instance, despite boasting a beautiful open world, players won’t truly be exploring it through the main champion as missions will have you driving to selected locations. While Lost Heaven can be fully explored in a separate free ride mode, it is the focus on driving to main objectives that makes the player feel like a tiny part of this larger world.
Tommy can drive beautifully detailed cars from the selected time period, engage in hand to hand combat (complete with brutal knock out animations) and participate in cover-based shootouts. He can also shoot rivals while speeding down roadways. Driving can feel somewhat clunky—especially when playing on the classic difficulty setting—but this also feels right due to the antique vehicles. The variety of missions likewise provide for a good time, from destroying a competing family’s automobile collection to an all-out gunfight in the middle of a raging storm. Mafia Definitive Edition will provide you with a myriad of memorable moments, which also includes the notorious hairpulling, controller smashing racing mission which makes its way over from the original. This early event is one of the game’s only drawbacks.
Although the world is not truly intended for exploration unless playing in free ride, the early 1900s vibe is a joy to experience. It may not be as detailed as Grand Theft Auto V or filled with side quests like Skyrim, yet it transported me through time like few games have. From the vintage radio broadcasts that lose clarity when riding through tunnels to the rain-soaked roads lit by the old-school automobiles, Mafia Definitive Edition gets the vibe right.
There are an insurmountable number of glitches that demote this game from being the all-star title it could have been. I experienced a dreaded save file error that caused me to lose progress. This problem does not seem to widely plague consumers, but it is a possibility. This combined with the infamous racing mission stops the game from being great, but does not take away from the immense fun to be had.