Mafia: Definitive Edition Review – Swinging City
The 1930s are a swinging time. Empire Bay never looked this good before and somehow you are roaming through the streets in an equivalent of a Formula One car before a solid traffic light stood in your way, and this Tommy couldn’t swim either…
In this year of remakes and remastering, Mafia Definitive Edition is, by far, the way to replay this classic in the modern era. Unshackled from its original blocky and hard PC routes, the game now looks the part of a gritty crime drama that ties with its core gameplay. So has it stood the test of time? Or did the modernity make the game dull?
Mafia DE looks amazing on Hangar 13’s proprietary game engine, which originally powered Mafia 3 (still super underrated). The art team has recreated the original 2002 game feel and added some neat touches to make the game look as authentic as that period.
From the blocky tram roads which vibrate the controller if you drive along with it, to the aforementioned solid lamp post which will mess you up good if you happen to crash during a chase scene.
Character models look quite nice, with it being on par with those seen in M3. They have used some elements of that game’s animation in Mafia DE, but it does blend into the world-building quite well. Some recasting of the voice-overs though is a hit and miss, but does give the game a more modern vibe in the otherwise timely game world.
Music never disappoints in the Mafia series and it’s interesting to see how the orchestra fits into the different cutscene, making it atmospheric at times. The radio station is also quite true to the time and nice to listen to while driving, though the tracks aren’t that many nor as memorable as in the 3rd game, it’s still quite nice to listen to smooth jazz as you drive to the next shootout.
The gameplay side is what you would expect from an open-world action game. It has some of the quirks from Mafia 3 but has been refined to be more engaging, like fistfights are more connected and guns being a bit inaccurate due to the period. Its story mode does follow the original game’s flow and style of an intro and ending to a mission without dumping onto a free mode state.
Which brings into the problem of their free mode being quite barren. There’s a lot of nothing to do within the game world in its own sandbox which was the issue of the game back then. Although there are collectibles like finding a few secret cars and the Free Mode Side Missions, a sort of nod from the original Extreme Freeride, it feels rather empty after you finish the game.
Mission wise, it also has fixed some very hard missions that plagued the flow of the game back in 2002. Missions like the dreaded racing mission or the long-ass train ride to the bank have been streamlined to make the game more fun to play and it works.
Besides its 8 to 12-hour story campaign, it is quite a good amount of story content for those wanting a game that tells a tale which like its numbered sequel, foretells the rise and fall of a criminal mobster in the most elegant way.
And like before, it’s Freeride mode left more to be desired really. The game does also provides some level of customizations for your cars, and you get to drive a select few vehicles from the sequels as well. Which looks quite hilarious when compared to the Model Ts which you drive in the story campaign.
Mafia Definitive Edition is one of those remasters that really helps the fans who couldn’t stand or run the original game. As a long time fan of this series, it is nice to replay a cult classic in the best way possible and although there are some foibles here and there, it definitely deserves the “Definitive” moniker.
Mafia: Definitive Edition is how remastering should be done. Hanger 13 has lovingly recreated Empire Bay with the love and care that fans expected for this type of series. Rough edges and all, it is one fun ride to playthrough.
Reviewed on base PS4. Reviewed copy purchased by the reviewer