MAFIA: DEFINITIVE EDITION
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on September 29, 2020
Let's go back to the 1930's, shall we? And what better place to visit than the city of Lost Heaven; a shining beacon of hope, wealth, entertainment and mafia. wait, what? Yes, ladies and gentlemen; Lost Heaven is home to two of large crime families: the Morello family and the Salieri family. And it's this last family that is of particular interest to us, seeing as how we'll get to know them a lot better, really, really soon.
As our adventure begins, we're in the midst of the great depression. To make matters worse, prohibition makes it almost impossible to relax after a days' hard work with an alcoholic beverage or two. Now, rules were made to be broken and this is where the crime families come in; they've developed a few trade routes of their own and are illicitly transporting bottles and bottles of hard liquor into the city. But it's not with this kind of transport that we meet our protagonist: Thomas "Tommy" Angelo. He's in the business of transporting people across town. And no, he's not into human trafficking; he's an honest to god cabby!
Through some twist of fate, Tommy accidentally brushes with two members of the Salieri family when he is forced, at gunpoint, I might add, to help these two escape from rival mobsters. Naturally, Don Salieri is very gracious and rewards Tommy for services rendered. So, with substantially more money than he had when he woke up that morning, Tommy heads home and thinks no more about it. A short while later, however, he is ambushed by a couple of guys that work for Don Morello, Salieri's rival. He manages to escape and ends up at the restaurant where he dropped off Salieri's men that fateful night. Long story short; this is the beginning of a tale of family, greed, revenge, love and violence. And I'll tell you this much right now; I'm happy I went along for the ride!
Mafia was originally developed by Illusion Softworks back in 2002. The game spawned two sequels; Mafia II in 2010 and Mafia III in 2016. Four years after the release of the last game in the series, Hangar 13 and 2K have taken it upon themselves to completely and faithfully reimagine the first part in the trilogy as the Mafia Definitive Edition. And this is no mere remaster, but rather a brand new, built-up from the ground game. The basics in terms of gameplay and story stayed true to the original, but everything else has been redone and even expanded to give the current generation of players the chance to also experience this grand adventure in crime.
In Mafia, we control the protagonist, Tommy Angelo, from a third person perspective, which gives us a beautiful view of his day to day activities. We start out as a cab driver and slowly but surely work our way up to becoming a trusted part of the Salieri crime family. The story starts in 1930 and works its way up all the way to 1938. During this time, we witness Tommy's rise through the ranks of the Salieri family and go along on every one of his escapades and missions. This way, we get to witness, up close and personal, the changes in Tommy's life and personality. The story of Mafia isn't really an overly long one, but it is a powerful one. It seems to ask one simple question: How far are you willing to go for your friends and for a taste of "the good life"?
Now, Lost Heaven is a big city, so traversing it on foot, although thoroughly possible, might not be the smartest approach, especially if your running from the cops or other gangsters that are chasing you and will not hesitate to shoot you where you stand. To this end, Tommy can get in or on practically every vehicle he comes across, ranging from old rickety two cylinder clunkers to fast and sleek sedans, to motorcycles (which is a first for the Mafia series). Every time he drives one of these vehicles for any prolonged time, that vehicle is added to his garage and can be selected whenever you choose to do so, giving you the opportunity to select the vehicle that best suits your style of driving, as well as the mission at hand. Every vehicle handles somewhat different than the next, so be sure to try them out when you have some spare time on your hands.
And that's the fun thing about this kind of games. Whenever you're not actively on a mission, you can take that time to explore Lost Heaven and find side missions and collectibles at your own pace and for however long you like. Lost Heaven is a sprawling city, bustling with life and opportunities. It's truly fun to take it easy for a while and cruise around town in one of your vehicles, just taking in the sights and sounds, or be on the hunt for the various collectibles and side missions the game has to offer. The city and its inhabitants are brought to life with a brand new voice cast, expertly crafted models of buildings and people and a completely redone soundtrack, making the experience feel fresh and new.
Weapon handling also seems to have gotten an upgrade, as did the driving mechanics. I remember playing the original game and liking it, but struggling with the controls from time to time. This, as they say, is now all in the past. Mafia handles and looks awesome, just like one may expect from any modern game. The only thing that surpasses the amount of effort that went into keeping things true to the original, is the amount effort that went into making sure things are even better than they were. The single most powerful weapon in the arsenal of a game in this genre is its story and the connection you fell with its characters. And this another area in which Mafia: The Definitive Edition truly shines. You really feel for the characters when things go bad and enjoy the moment with them as they celebrate their successes. That's what really sets a game apart; at least, it does in my book!
As I've mentioned earlier, I'm really glad I picked up this game and went along for the ride. I encountered one or two minor issues along the way, but nothing that put me off. For instance, I was chasing this guy one time, and he got stuck on a bannister after taking a real sharp turn. Now, the mission was to not let him escape which, on paper, he didn't do. But, being unable to actually apprehend the guy, got me stuck in that particular mission. Luckily, a quick "restart from last checkpoint" solved all my problems and before I knew it, I was once again chasing the guy through the beautiful streets of Lost Heaven. The checkpoints in Mafia luckily aren't few and far between, so whenever you do get killed, you can easily reload without having to replay the last four hours.
All in all, I can only say that I loved Mafia: The Definitive Edition. It presents a strong story, easily likeable (as well as easy to hate) characters, and cool missions, all set against the beautiful backdrop of Lost Heaven. So, if I might offer you some advice; if you haven't played this game, do yourself a favor and give it a good whirl. Even if you've played the original Mafia game back in 2002, there's just so much more to discover and do that replaying it in this brand new version is truly worth your time and effort!