by William Thompson
previewed on PC
A fresh coat of paint
When the Mafia Trilogy was announced back in May, I was a tad disappointed. Although I felt that Mafia III wasn’t quite at the same level as Mafia II from a story perspective, it was engaging game nonetheless, and I was hoping the news would be for a fourth instalment. Instead, it was for enhanced versions of the original three titles. It would at least give me the opportunity to replay the three titles, something I don’t get much of a chance to do as a game reviewer. Mafia II and Mafia III, having been released more recently required little tweaks, rather than complete overhauls. Mafia, however, was released back in 2002 and would need plenty of work to bring it up to today’s standards.
And from what we have seen from the hands-on preview, the team at Hanger 13 have done an amazing job in making Mafia: Definitive Edition feel like a fresh title. Right from the opening cinematic where Detective Norman travels from a train station to a café to meet up with Tommy, it is clear to see that Mafia has been built from the ground up. The city of Lost Heaven is alive and bustling with people, sunlight glistening off the shiny new cars as we see Norman walk across the road and into the diner. The characters facial features are dramatically upgraded to the point where they now rival that of Mafia III, or the Mafia II: Definitive Edition. Shadows and lighting now play an important part of creating the sense of realism in their features, as they discuss Tommy’s predicament over a cup of coffee.
For those who didn’t play it when it was initially released just after the turn of the century, Mafia follows the life of Thomas Angelo (known as Tommy), a taxi driver who reluctantly becomes intertwined into the Mafia world. After chauffeuring a couple of Don Salieri’s mobsters in his taxi, he runs afoul of the rival Mafia run by Morello. His taxi – his livelihood during the depression – is damaged by Morello’s hoods and after escaping from them, vows revenge. And it is from here his mob life begins.
Driving and shooting
As a former taxi driver, Thomas is often used as the mob wheelman, basically a chauffeur who drives the team to various places around the city. The first few missions have Tommy either driving his taxi through the streets of Lost Heaven or travelling to an important destination with Sam and Paulie – two of Salieri’s henchmen. But as you’d expect from a Mafia title, weapons and gunplay become a major focus as Tommy moves more into Salieri’s circle. Although our time with the game was relatively short, the shooting was sequences were smooth, with crouching and a cover system that enables allows Tommy to move in and out of a protected position.
As mentioned earlier, the visuals, particularly those in the cut-scenes look wonderful. But it is not just the visuals that have been updated. The voice acting and the dialogue have had makeovers. The dialogue in particular allows Tommy to become more relatable than he seemed to be in the original. And the voice-actors have given each of the characters more emphasis.
From the reasonably small time I had with Mafia: Definitive Edition, I was impressed by how the game actually looks and plays like any other recently released game, rather than a game from the early part of the century. The story and the voice-acting and dialogue combined with the overhauled visuals certainly allow for an immersive experience. And for me, Tommy’s story now rivals that of Vito Scaletta. I know I’ll be looking forward to having more time with the game when it releases at the end of September.
Follow us on Instagram for reviews, news and more.