When publisher 2K Games announced that it would be releasing a remake of Mafia, there was great enthusiasm - especially among the fans who spent many great hours with the classic around 18 years ago. In the new edition you can experience the rise and fall of Tommy Angelo again and that is a curse and a blessing. Curse, because the title rests playfully on the foundations from 2020. A blessing, because the new look from Mafia carries the old story even better. How we liked Mafia: Definitive Edition? It is - as trite as it sounds - an offer that cannot be refused. 


Mafia, the classic that was first published in 2002, has returned - more beautiful, more bored, but still recognizable. The developers clearly and audibly worked on the presentation. The Mafia is playful: Definitive Edition, however, is still the Mafia that is now 18 years old - and that's exactly what you notice in the game at times. But first things first: Let's start in Lost Heaven in 1930. The city is a filthy juggernaut, the economy has collapsed, food is scarce - and to make matters worse, alcohol has been declared illegal. It doesn't sound particularly heavenly, unless you're a Mafiosi, then Lost Heaven becomes the perfect playground.

American Nightmare: From taxi driver to gangster

Anyone who has already played the classic from 2002 knows what it's about: Players slip into the role of Tommy Angelo, a taxi driver who doesn't want to have anything to do with the city's criminals. An honorable resolution that is doomed to failure in Lost Heaven. The protagonist happens to come into contact with Don Salieri's henchmen. From then on, the rise and fall of Tommy Angelo begin - and with it the fun for the fans.

Appearing a bit fake, you first drive a few passengers through the city, learn the elementary manipulations at the wheel of a car and without a long history you become the criminal you actually didn't want to be. You quickly join the “family” of gang boss Salieri, fulfill your first assignments and make a name for yourself in the organization. The assignments are initially simple: collect protection money, drive a couple of even bad guys through Lost Heaven, then comes the point when the story picks up speed and the tasks become more action-packed: chases, wild shootings, robberies, you live life fast of a mafiosi.

As a taxi driver, players start with Tommy Angelo, but it doesn't stay that way for long. Image source: Spielpunkt

As a taxi driver, players start with Tommy Angelo, but it doesn't stay that way for long. Image source: Spielpunkt

Often you are on the move through the city, which is quite large, but does not offer an open game world as you know it from modern games. The Mafia: Definitive Edition sticks to the original. You explore without really being free, following a linear task that is divided into individual chapters. Anyone expecting an experience à la GTA 5 or Red Dead Redemption 2 should make it clear that the remake of Mafia takes place primarily on the level of presentation.

The gameplay has also been revised in detail, but overall the mafia of today is the mafia of back then - with all the advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless: Mafia is driven forward in a mercilessly exciting way by the grandiose story - which is probably one of the best in video game history. There is hardly any time for long exploratory trips, but if you feel like it, you can still cruise through the city and listen to the old songs while driving.

Take it easy, Tommy

The pace of the game is also comparatively slow. Mafia: Definitive Edition is not a fast-paced shooter like Call of Duty, but rather a slow-motion experience reminiscent of The Division. Players seek cover, wait, shoot briefly, wait - and have plenty of time to enjoy the atmosphere that begins with the initiation of missions and is steadily heading towards a climax. The fact that everything runs like it is on rails is still a great advantage today: Mafia gains an enormous amount of narrative density as a result. Shooting is part of the setting, but mafia is not reduced to that.

From a purely visual point of view, the Mafia: Definitive Edition is a success. Image source: Spielpunkt

From a purely visual point of view, the Mafia: Definitive Edition is a success. Image source: Spielpunkt

Everything is balanced. Action-packed sequences are followed by quieter ones, sometimes you wander around, hold conversations, use the time to find collectibles. It almost seems as if the shootings are playfully the negative part of the Mafia. Shooting is simple, slow, sometimes bulky. The sometimes awkward movements of the characters are not particularly helpful, they are even a hindrance in narrow passages. A little more fine-tuning would have done the game good.

If you were to reduce Mafia: Definitive Edition to the shooting sequences, the game would be solid at best. But because that doesn't happen, the setting - that is, the game world with all its loving details including the storytelling - ensures great fun. It is not uncommon for one to get involved in missions that are grandiose and brilliantly told. Then as now: The appearance is the star of Mafia, not the playful core. 

Lots of scripted events ... luckily

You have to be able to get involved with scripted events, have no reservations about strictly linear games and also have to be able to deal with one or the other Mafia cliché in order to be able to experience the great moments that the game stands for with Mafia: Definitive Edition. The developers have lent a hand in many places and put the game together or added new checkpoints, which benefits the arc of suspense. Without it, the Mafia: Definitive Edition, which is based on the Mafia 3 engine, has optically arrived in the modern era, even if it is not a glossy title for a long time.

Lost Heaven is a living playground with many details. Image source: Spielpunkt

Lost Heaven is a living playground with many details. Image source: Spielpunkt

The best mood comes when it's night in Lost Heaven or when it starts to rain. The setting of the 1930s with all its good and bad sides, in those good and bad times at the time, was excellently achieved by the creators. Even more atmosphere, a little more life, cool songs and many small moments that make you pause - these are the strengths of Mafia, which the classic knows how to play off even better in a new guise. This makes the game world a place where people like to stay for a long time - despite the limited space. Sometimes you get a little simulation feeling when you drive your car through the streets, ignore red traffic lights and put the police on your own neck, only to then hang out the friendly helpers again in Mafia fashion. 

Technically speaking, the Mafia: Definitive Edition is at a high level. Occasional drops in frame rates still occur, albeit rarely overall. Sometimes the sound gets stuck or minor bugs make progress difficult, so you have to jump to a previous checkpoint and try your hand at the course of the mission again. However, we did not find any really critical errors. Nothing has occurred that cannot be remedied by patches in the future. And in direct comparison to the release of the most modern offshoot of the series, Mafia 3, the Mafia: Definitive Edition seems almost technically flawed.

Tip for even more fun: Get behind the wheel!

The remake of the classic already gives an impression that, in terms of play, seems to be based more on Mafia 3 than on the original Mafia. This also applies to the controls, which are successful but not perfect. There is definitely a moment when you escape using the Tommy Angelo crutch. However, if the protagonist is behind the wheel of a car, it feels like a different world: Driving is one of the highlights of the game. The oldtimers can be steered as soft as butter over the now wider streets, here and there you can take shortcuts. Otherwise, you should spend as much time behind the wheel as possible.

The makers capture the mood of the 1930s well. Info objects distributed everywhere tell more about the time. Image source: Spielpunkt

The makers capture the mood of the 1930s well. Info objects distributed everywhere tell more about the time. Image source: Spielpunkt 

Health management also shows how much Mafia: Definitive Edition is based on Mafia 3. Tommy Angelo is not an invincible super gangster, but vulnerable. You should therefore keep an eye on your health bar and - as with Mafia 3 - always keep an eye out for first aid kits. Finding good cover as quickly as possible in a shooting is essential. Otherwise you will eat too much lead too quickly - and then usually more than is good for Tommy. Ammunition is not infinite either, but it is also not necessarily rare. Nevertheless: It is important to pay attention to the ball reserve. Because you always have to be attentive, the rather sluggish gameplay is not necessarily a drawback. 

Publisher 2K Games and Hangar 13 have made improvements in the right places, making Mafia: Definitive Edition a worthy remake, with which fans of the original can have at least as much - if not more - fun than they did around 18 years ago. If you don't even know the Mafia trilogy, you now have the chance to enjoy one of the best series of games of all time. And as a remake in itself, it doesn't have to hide behind similar projects, such as the remake of Resident Evil 2.

Images of Mafia: Definitive Edition

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Infobox

Number of players: 1
Age: from 18 (USK)
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: low

Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Hangar 13
Year of publication: 2020
platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, 
Languages: German
Cost: 30,99 Euro

Summary

The most important information at the beginning: You have to have played the Mafia trilogy if you are even remotely called a gaming enthusiast. What publisher 2K and developer Hangar 13 deliver with the Mafia: Definitive Edition is more than worthy of the series. The gangster epic is better than ever before: With the right screws, the story about Tommy Angelo feels even better staged than 18 years ago - and the story was already terrific back then. Even if it doesn't match that of Mafia 2, which is still the best part of the series.

Reduced to the gameplay, Mafia: Definitive Edition shows its age. The shooter part is sluggish, even for shooting orgies with a pronounced cover system. Nevertheless, it is fun to take action against opponents with the arsenal of weapons - from baseball bats to “Tommy Gun” - even if the variety of shooters to choose from leaves a lot to be desired. As simple as the fights may be, they are quite challenging. Boredom never arises, not playfully and with regard to the story anyway. 

In any case, with Mafia: Definitive Edition, sit back and enjoy the plot. All the gameplay stuff is almost the necessary evil to be able to experience the Mafia story. Visually and musically, you couldn't delve deeper into the 1930s. The great sound and the good synchronization also contribute to the atmosphere. Mafia: Definitive Edition is a perfect mix of a good story and wonderfully written characters - everything garnished with the right portion of drama and wit at the right time. The scripted events are not a shortcoming: They set playful limits, but push the background story forward to such a high level that you feel like you're watching a gangster movie and not playing a video game. 


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