In a world dominated by multiplayer games, live services, or competitive e-sports, its always a good idea to bounce back and experience a game with a well crafted story mode. Mafia: Definitive Edition brings you just that, a tale about trench coat wearing mobsters taking over the city of Lost Heaven.
For the record, I have never played the original Mafia so there won’t be a comparison. I will say though, I’m glad I’ve experienced this with fresh eyes.
Welcome to the Family
Mafia’s 10 hour story-mode was truly exciting and a pleasure to play. The protagonist, Tommy Angelo, tells his story through a series of flashbacks which helps set the pace for events to unfold. But a story is nothing without its cast, and boy does the cast hit their mark. Almost every main character is memorable and fleshed out. Almost every dialogue sequence was either funny banter or a nail biting moment that would foreshadow a plot twist.
The performances of the voice actors were top tier and gave so much life to each character. And honest to God, this game would have been nothing without the performances of Andrew Bongiorno (Tommy), Jeremy Luke (Paulie), and Don DiPetta (Sam). During some driving missions where I’d have to escort Paul or Sam to a checkpoint, I would intentionally park the vehicle just to wait for their conversation to finish.
The story missions themselves were absolutely thrilling to play. From high speed car chases, chaotic gangster gunfights, and even simple stealth missions. All of these are properly paced as the campaign unfolded. Never did I find myself asking, “When is the next gun fight? When is the next car chase?” Instead, it came to a point where I just wanted to be surprised and taken for one hell of a ride.
Gunplay during the mobster shootouts have your basic third person cover shooter mechanics. But what makes it challenging and fulfilling to play is that the enemy A.I. put up a good fight. I always found myself having to adjust position and take cover when needed. Never did I feel like I was gunning down bullet sponge gangsters and never did I feel like a one man army, one mistake and it was curtains for me.
Some games have a habit of padding some missions with stealth mechanics, and Mafia does do this. However, it was implemented with moderation or only when it made sense to the story.
One of the first missions you’re introduced to in Mafia is a classic taxi car chase and this left me yearning for more. Whether it be flooring the pedal to chase down gangsters or escape the cops, these missions were my favorite. It wasn’t the driving itself that got me, but the attention to detail and atmosphere. There was thrilling dialogue as your buddies unload their tommy guns on the enemies. The police on pursuit would catch up to your vehicle and even set road blockades to stop you. You needed to take shortcuts and highlighted paths in order to escape.
Mixing all these elements together, you have a damn good recipe for one of the best mafia genre titles out there. The game doesn’t call itself Mafia for no reason.
Take a Shower and Cement your Shoes
However, there are two factors that I need to point out that may or may not sit well with others.
Mafia’s campaign is linear and you’re given a path to follow hopping from one mission to the next, but it is set in the fully explorable Open World.
I emphasize “open-world” because there is not much of it actually present in the game, which brings me to my first point. After finishing the campaign and going into Free Ride mode, I was left disappointed because there was nothing for me to do aside from drive around. There were no side missions, no challenges, and no additional content for me to partake in. I feel like this might be something that Hangar 13 will include down the line.
To be fair, the city of Lost Heaven is beautiful. From the buildings, to the vintage cars, and tunes of the radio stations. I loved driving around the city, it felt like taking a tour of the 1930s. I’m glad that the world isn’t TOO big either, and because of that I feel like the developers put more resources on artistically crafting a believable fictional city. Again, if only there was more to do, it would be perfect.
It could be argued that there is a mode to test drive all the vehicles in the Carcyclopedia. You can take any car to a racetrack to test its metal, and even test your own skill through a time attack. But honestly, bringing this up to me felt like I was over-squeezing a wet towel.
Now, on to my last point and the ONE huge problem I did have with this title. Without fail, at least one time on every mission, I experienced hiccups in the game. The game would just freeze whenever something new had to be rendered. The kicker here is that these would last as long as 30 seconds. These would happen during gunfights and car chases, completely disconnecting me from my immersion in the game.
Final Verdict – 8.5/10
Mafia: Definitive Edition gives players a well crafted and exciting story to experience. Coupled with polished gunplay, thrilling car chases, and a beautiful world that complete the package. However, I wish that for all the love and detail they put into the aforementioned, it’s a shame they could not do the same for amount content and the exploration of Lost Heaven, a city full of life but no soul. Still though, for USD 30 on Steam, it’s definitely an offer you can’t refuse.
*This game was reviewed using a PC via a review copy sent by 2K.