Honesty hour, I have not played the original Mafia of 2002, so this game will be judged by own merits and shortcomings as if this was a recent release all while knowing it is a faithful remake.
I do remember a few in-game moments when watching a friend play the game, but hardly enough even fill a few good minutes of gameplay.
The city of Lost Heaven invites us on this journey into the world of organized crime, so let us take a look.
THE DON WANTS A WORD
Lost Heaven is a fictional take on Chicago, the city where the mob was quite prevalent in their operations of gambling, providing “protection” to local businesses, and of course, the smuggling of hard liquor. This is the 1930’s, years before World War 2 would start, so there are ways of old that would come to an end. For now, we will enjoy this era, even with all the crime, that is mostly caused by you and live like a real gangster.
The opening scene starts with a flyover shot of approaching the coast, a calming piece of nature when it cuts to the city with all the bells and whistles of everyday life, completely oblivious of the things happening behind the scenes. Taking us through parts of the city, you cannot help but admire the recreation of the time in full colour, albeit someone might have spilt the light brown paint rather generously.
The scene comes to an end with us meeting the first character, Detective Norman on his way to a meeting.
So who he is meeting? None other than the real main character of the show, Tommy Angelo, and this is where it all starts of him telling his story over half a coffee house of refills and possible lung cancer from Big Blues. No, not the music.
The story starts off our hero taking a quick smoke break during the nightshift of being a cabby, and wouldn’t you know it like the universe was sending an angel, well two, towards Tommy and we kick off with a chase scene to get the new besties, Sam and Paulie, back to headquarters.
After proving to the two you are a capable driver, Tommy is reward with a fat wad of cash and that is that…for now.
Soon after, you back on the job driving around customers for a few cents, barely a drop against the cash given to you for just not dying on the job while another mob was shooting at you.
While on your daily routine, you are thrown practically headfirst into the business of being a mobster while getting half your face kicked in by the previously mentioned mobster’s goon, and your two best buddies point out to them how nice it is to not walk home with a chest full of buckshot.
At this point, Tommy thought he was still a cabbie, but Don Salieri took favour and let him into the family.
Across the 20 missions, there is not a very deep plot going on as it is two crime bosses trying to get the better of the other, in a game of city-wide chess if you will. Missions are varied enough to be more than just a shooting gallery, where at times you are tailing a target, chasing a target, the key difference being how aware said target is of you, taking out the muscle of the enemy or doing the standard protect something/someone.
So who is this enemy? That would fall onto Don Morello, the big thorn is Salieri’s side, as Morello is the type of guy that has a lot of muscle, including the cops. Sadly, that is as much as this bitter rivalry goes in terms of development, Morello’s men will shoot you, so you shoot back, capisce?
A DAY IN LOST HEAVEN
From start to finish, Mafia plays off like a typical 1930’s mobster movie and does so quite well. This would not be possible if the world you explore was not believable, and that alone is worthy of getting lost in, even if small but decently sized.
If you would like to just explore the city, there is the Free Ride mode where you can take in the scenery at your own pace. The city itself is just a treat to look at while driving a classic car through the varies types of the urban environments, from the High-riser business centre and Upper-Class neighbourhoods to the Industrial area and the bits in between like the dirt under your feet from walking on tiles all day.
Even when just walking about, it feels alive with people going about their business and occasionally says something towards Tommy. Plenty of character to go around to represent the 1930’s. That being said, walking and running feeling kind of arcade-like yet grounded. Getting around on foot is made easier with the infinite running feature.
The cars in Mafia has been done right as they are weighty yet easy to steer, fast or slow, as long as you obey the laws of gravity and the road, and you will fine. The cops can be set to being really chilled out, or be like a really hungry guard dog and you, the steak, is on the menu with a garnish of lead if acting like a hooligan.
Luckily, if you won’t play by the rules for speeding or jumping a red light, you get pulled over and get a fine, and seeing as there is no money to earn, the cost is but a brief moment of time. Even if the cops do decide to chase you for untied shoelaces, outrunning them is not exactly difficult unless you driving the Bolt Ace, which has as much urgency to move fast as a teenager has “urgency” to do chores on a Saturday morning.
The bikes are a different animal. It can be one of the fastest vehicles in the game, but boy oh boy are they twitchy. Best to pray to ask for a safe ride, and prayer when done to say thank you. For driving, I would suggest Simulation, gives more weight to the cars and bikes, far more fun.
I may not know a lot about the ’30s, but I am sure there were more than 2 whole radio channels to listen to. However, the music that does play is what completes Mafia with a decent selection with tracks from Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt, and Cab Calloway taking centre stage? Speaker? This is up for debate.
I felt strangely nostalgic when listening to the music, due to the cartoons I watched as a kid that had 1930’s themes to them quite often, especially the sound of Classical and Blues. Jazz I would say gives the strongest feeling of the era in the game.
TIME TO GET DIRTY
Being part of the family means getting your hands dirty either in fistfights or gunfights. Weapons overall feel solid even if the selection is as basic as they come, from pistols, shotguns, rifles, and of course, The Tommy Gun with the iconic drum mag. You have use of grenades and Molotov cocktails. The latter being really effective, as I was part of the extensive research group the enemy was conducting.
The prior, fistfights, don’t break out that much, but the payoff is usually a short scene of Tommy taking his opponent out. So other than story missions, you won’t see much action unless you like poking at the cops.
Gunfights at times felt like a being at a target practice range, just picking off the enemies one by one, but landing a headshot with the pistol has that satisfying impact. NPC’s react accordingly depending on where they get shot so that at the very least breathes life into these shoot-outs.
Death animations might be good and well, but the acting of the cast is spot-on, scene for scene. Facial animation is great but not perfect, as everything is where they should be, except for the glued eyelashes. It’s a small nitpick, but there is plenty of face time during story missions to make it noticeable. Other than that, brilliant performances from every character.
ANY FINAL WORDS?
Just a few.
There is plenty to discover within the Mafia’s two modes but would have done the game, as a remake, more justice by combining the two to make more use of the locations outside the city. Whether you were in the city or out on the country road, a few more added missions would have been fair on the game world itself.
The music of the 1930s sets the mood of the world just right and the game’s own musical score is great when setting the story’s mood, so much so, I feel like buying a suit, a trench-coat and the hat and go on a drive with a classic.
I would like to add, we need more games like Mafia, taking us back to a time we only ever see in photos.
Mafia The Definitive Edition is an excellent addition to the now Mafia the Definitive Collection and is worthy of your time.