Republished on Wednesday, 1st February, 2023: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of February 2023's PS Plus line up. The original text follows.
After the complete and utter disaster that was Mafia II: Definitive Edition, the only way was up for its prequel. Mafia: Definitive Edition is a remake of the 2002 original, bringing back the classic tale of Tommy Angelo and his descent into the world of organised crime within the US city of Lost Heaven. And 18 years later, there are many ways in which it does hold up and a few that prove it doesn't. Die-hard fans of the source text are sure to get a kick out of proceedings, but newcomers may see some of its commitments to realism as a stumbling block. It's still a pretty good game when all is said and done though.
If anything, Hangar 13 should be praised for developing such an impressively faithful remake. Every cutscene has been painstakingly recreated for the modern era to make the narrative shine while supporting characters, such as Tommy's love interest, have been expanded upon to provide more depth. The iconic race is back and better than ever, and yes, the traditionally frustrating mission just before it is much more manageable this time around. That along with a whole host of other memorable sequences will make series fanatics feel right at home. This is absolutely the Mafia you remember.
There's no better proof of that than the story itself. It's a deliberately slow burn that really lets you embed yourself inside the world of the protagonist as well as the mobsters he considers friends. The dynamic duo of Paulie and Sam become your best buddies before too long while Don Salieri instantly demands a level of respect. Working in tandem, the illegal workforce pepper their odd jobs with attempts to get one over the rival Morello family.
You could probably say that not a lot actually happens during the plot then, but it's the work of quality voice acting that gives the impression of an epic rather than a short story. It all comes together wonderfully, really giving you the chance to both walk the walk and talk the talk as Tommy Angelo. With fantastic characters by his side, you feel like there's nothing he couldn't get away with.
That's a great thing for him then because the sort of crimes you will be committing would surely result in a life sentence. The general gameplay loop only ever revolves around driving and shooting, with a quick bit of stealth here and there, but it's the mission variety that elevates it beyond those derogatory terms. From a shoot out inside a church and planting a bomb in a hotel through to sniping a politician from the top of a prison guard tower, there's enough here to keep things fresh.
If only the controls could match that to allow for some creativity. Some very clunky inputs can make getting about in Mafia: Definitive Edition a chore as movement speed takes a nose dive the more you wrestle with it. Tommy controls like a tank at even the best of times, and unfortunately, this also extends to the shooting. An inaccurate aiming reticule is almost always to blame for misplaced shots, but even just getting it to correctly line up with an enemy's head can be a mission and a half. These mechanics have been borrowed from Mafia III, but even they feel outdated four years later.
However, that's just a drop in the ocean compared to the woeful vehicle handling. Look, we understand that Hangar 13 was attempting to replicate the cars of the time, but there also comes a point where you need to create an experience that's enjoyable to play. Mafia: Definitive Edition does the former and completely forgets about the latter. Turning circles were apparently hardly a thing back in the 1930s as automobiles crash into one another more often than a Formula 1 driver. Handling is incredibly stiff, making journeys between missions and any exploration of the city harder than it should be.
The remake has also made some small changes to Lost Heaven, but they're purely an option that can be selected at the beginning of a 15-hour playthrough. The police force isn't nearly as aggressive once they give chase, a number of different collectibles can be found in each and every corner to flesh out the world, and new difficulty modes let you fine-tune the experience. Again, though, they're simply offered as a choice rather than the new way to play the game.
And as for the visuals, they can be both impressive and inadequate at the same time. Character models, particularly in cutscenes, look outstanding and so too do some environments, but introduce some greenery on the outskirts of the city and texture pop-in can be replicated on demand. Although, considering we’re working with a city layout nearly two decades old, it can be forgiven to a point. Bugs and glitches can’t be though as cars find themselves suspended in mid-air the moment you turn your back while the frame rate drops dramatically during intense combat sections.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a remake more faithful than Mafia: Definitive Edition. It pays a great deal of respect to the source text with excellent cutscene direction, voice acting, and a cast of characters you can't help but fall in love with. The game definitely shows its age with frustrating controls and vehicle handling, but the next story beat is enough of an excuse to continue pressing forward. Mafia: Definitive Edition's narrative and everything that comes with it holds up to this day, and it's one worth revisiting even if you know it like the back of your hand.
7 is pretty solid
I always found that Mafia games were a lot of boring driving between missions with a seemingly open worlds which there was not much to do in. Has this changed in anyway for this game?
Haha still has the bad vehicle handling. I remember it being pretty bad back on PS2 as well. I'm still super excited for this. It looks great. I honestly don't even recognize the game its been updated so well.
Brilliant, definitely getting this then. Never played a Mafia game and I actually love realistic vehicle physics, it’s fun when your car actually feels like a hunk of bolts.
@blacklivesmatter It is still exactly that, but I personally didn't find it boring.
Welp, the notes on controls tells me to buy it on PC rather than getting it to play on the PS5. Now I just need convincing not to buy it at all…
Quite looking forward to trying this out. Great review, Liam!
That's good enough for me! Bring on tomorrow!
I’m currently playing through two have been for a couple of weeks - did it get heavily patched? I’m not finding it a disaster at all.
Looking forward to starting this one though!
This is the correct era for a proper mafia game for a start
Played 2 and 3 ......missed this yrs ago ...... Now Definitely eying this down the road.......
Eurogamer say there's no handbrake, and there's a 'ram' button which gives a boost to speed and handling. Sounds like they've ruined the driving which is a key part of the game.
The driving is always fine with me.but the graphics and gameplay story is really good.word up son
I have such come memories of playing the original. For some reason I enjoyed that game over GTA 3. Sadly though the game hasn't aged well so when they announced the Remaster I had to get it. Will be checking it out after work tonight!!
Glad to hear it's decent loved it when it released, but still remember the vehicle controls being "heavy" but still loved the story. Will get this at some point. Man there are a few Games coming and that I have still yet to play, going to have to do some serious gaming before ps5 launch. Still got enough holidays to take b4 Feb so will have some proper gaming time soon.
I have a million and one things to play right now, and $40 is a little steep, but I'll definitely pick this up during some distant sale. I loved II and thought III was a bore, but I never actually played the original.
Just watch ACG's video on u tube and u will want to buy this game.
I have always been a big fan of the Mafia franchise.
With Mafia 2 being my favorite one.
I felt like 3 lost its way and could have been better on some points. I will be giving this a shot when it is on sale.
I loved godfather, this is right up my alley. I think a GTA with emphasis on crime families in this style would be epic.
Can you collect plod mags in this one?
@ApostateMage I’m afraid not.
Why did alot of you not take advantage of the 3 for 1 bundle? I didn't think even though I owned 3 twice already paying 60 for Mafia 1 and 2 was a bad deal at all. Not judging just thought to myself those 2 games were worth 30 apiece.
@graysoncharles A 7 can be really good 9 and 10's go around way to easy now.
I want this but I already bought mario and 13 sentinels...
This is good to hear. In that case I'll get the trilogy at some point, assuming the bugs have been patched out from the other games.
Could never really gel with these games they were always so clunky. It looks like the controls are an issue with this remake and that’s pretty unforgivable. If you can’t control a game the whole experience is tainted for me. I feel the same about GTA - horrible clunky controls.
I’d rather have revamped modern control schemes than pretty graphics otherwise you’re just slapping a shiny coat of paint on something that’s outdated and not intuitive.
@graysoncharles numerical scores are irrelevant. Your enjoyment of a game doesn’t have to hinge on the opinion of a journalist.
@blacklivesmatter open worlds with little interactivity are so dull. I felt this way about the Arkham games. It’s not an open world if you can only enter certain buildings for story missions and can’t explore properly. A bunch of polygonal buildings does not make a city.
@Arnna There's plenty of side content and reasons to explore in the Arkham games, especially Knight. Are you expecting to be able to enter every building? 🤔
I like that most chapters in Mafia consist of one mission and no pointless filler. I think Mafia III went a bit overboard with the side activities if I remember correctly.
@Bentleyma- I guess what I’m saying is that world didn’t feel very alive or like I was a part of it. You’re right, there are explorable areas I was being a bit hyperbolic.
Yeah I got bored with Mafia 3 because I just felt like I was running the same errands over and over with little differences. Also the protagonist was not terribly likeable.
@LiamCroft Thanks Liam. I was wondering why it scored a 7 and not a 9.
@LiamCroft........ What's the different between this and the Mafia in the trilogy...... I am more looking for Mafia 3 and plan to get the trilogy as it has all 3 games but I want to know what is the significant different between this Mafia 1 definitive edition and the Mafia 1 in the triology........ Do you get anything extra with this definitive edition...... Or would it better to just get the trilogy version, will I miss out on anything..... Thanks
@Bentleyma-.... But the story of 3 is the best of the triology....... Granted I only played its demo and the only downside is the murkey lighting like it's so dim you can't see and I hope this is fixed for the actual game.... I did play Mafia 2 and the best thing or highlight of the game for me is when you get arrested and go to jail and then you see changes of time or Era as time passes when you are in jail.... I wish more game would use this or integrate it more in games.... Haven't played Mafia 1.....
@Arnna @Bentleyma-.... But the story of 3 is the best of the triology....... Granted I only played its demo and the only downside is the murkey lighting like it's so dim you can't see and I hope this is fixed for the actual game.... I did play Mafia 2 and the best thing or highlight of the game for me is when you get arrested and go to jail and then you see changes of time or Era as time passes when you are in jail.... I wish more game would use this or integrate it more in games.... Haven't played Mafia 1.....
@Arnna.... I so agree with you..... I cannot believe how many games that have crap controls having reviews that overlook the clanky and wonky controls......... This is exactly why the Witcher 3 could never pass as a masterpiece.... It has the ***** combat control and guess what 90% of the story progression depends on combat...... Yet this is overlooked like its a miner thing and it's actually game breaking...... I still don't how the Witcher 3 is regarded as a masterpiece........ Like the combat completely goes against the character design and narrative, when in combat Gerlad never feels like a Witcher...... It would have fit perfectly if Gerald's backstory not being a Witcher but just a normal guy who is not a trained warrior or fighter or trained monster slayer........
@Bentleyma-... Well why f***** not.... GTA 3 San Andreas a ps2 game that was made before the cpu and gpu behemoths of today has by far most interactive and immersive open world to this day, even GTA 5 can't tie its shoes in terms of world interactivity. So having an a game with every door open able is technically possible with today's hardware but we will probably (praying and dream we get a new crazy and ambitious dev almost like a new Rockstar that pushes the envelope and goes beyond and does an everydoor is accessible type of open world ) never see such a game cause gaming now is all about having more loot boxes than having everydoor being accessible........... Actually this is were we thought gaming would move towards but it went for quick cash grabs.............. You make think I am naive to think like that but Flight Simulator 2020 says hello.... I bet you never thought anyone could make a game map that is the entire earth in super high detail granted its not as interactive but it pushes the open world building and also games such as Eve online having galaxy wide worlds........ So can't anyone make game says based in London by with every building polygon being interactive.....beign able to open all doors and access all buildings in a city.............. This is the next big jump in gaming.... And I think Cyberpunk will show us a glimpse of this interactivity............ That game is this year's GOTY hands down....... I think it will starve all games releasing after it of sales...
@Bentleyma-5: I think what would increase a sense of interactivity is a sort of context design game play......where the world is interactive in context to the game narrative... For example Marvel Spiderman 2018's world and hence its building are mostly non interactive based on the narrative of the game and the story of Peter and the characters..... As Spiderman you would not be going around exploring buildings like a normal guy as its never happened in the comics or movies and also Peter trying to keep his identity secret so you don't go around exploring the buildings which makes the fact the buildings are not really accessible not really matter.....
Just adding on spider man, a strange thing I noticed about the game is that it is so suited to the so called ubisoft open world model than all ubisoft open world games...... Clearing camps and bandits in a lot of ubisoft game get repetitive and boring and tiring pretty quickly in the ubisoft games........ I found clearing the criminal camps in Spiderman to be a blast and can't stop doing them when playing the games...... One i didn expect Insomniac to do was to copy GTA's clanky flight control with the pigeon chasing mission Jesus those are the one thing that blows about the game together with the bomb missions
@GREGORIAN, I agree that I think 3 had the best story out of the trilogy, DLC included. The only thing it was bogged down by was it's repetitive mission structure as 2K was not used to making a fully interactive open world.
If it had kept the linear nature like the first two im sure it would have fared better.
I also disagree with Anna about three's protag not being likeable. All the Mafia protags aren't likeable. They are all murdering machines who choose self gain at the cost of innocents lives. The only difference is Mafia's 3 protag goes down the path of revenge while the first two protags are more just your everyday gangsters killing and robbing to get to the top.
Out of three, Mafia's III protagonist was the most fleshed out and well written.
@blacklivesmatter you can actually skip most of the mundane drives between missions with a button press in this version.
I ended up buying this on sale for $30 New during a random sale, still haven't made it past the racecar mission.
Phew I thought this was a rerelease I've the original and this on pc. Cracking games remember this on the ps2 as well. I have to buy a joypad mapper to play this on pc all the early 2000 games I have never had joypad compatibility ,mass effect was an experience until I fell in with a joypad mod been bliss ever since legend edition came out.
Played the original on PC back then, one of my favs... Being a fan of movies like Goodfellas and Casino, I couldn't help but fall in love with this game.
Last summer I did a replay of this Mafia remake, disc, and Mafia 2 streamed. If you like one you will probably like the other or vice versa. Both are similar in structure, however for me Mafia 2 has the better cars, better customization, and better garages.
7 is a fair score for this remake although I love it and give an 8. Also it was only $40 new. My big complaint is no dlc like Joe's for Mafia 2. A dlc about Sam, and or, Paulie would have been nice.
Overall Mafia was fun to play and replay. Performance on my PRO is good frame rates with good 1080p graphics. Interiors like in Mafia 2 are done very well.
Its a good "fake" open world game due to its strong storytelling.
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