Mafia: Definitive* Edition

Hangar 13 wasn't content with remaking the original scene to scene. They replaced most of the brilliant dialogue with their own bellow average versions.

Mafia: Definitive* Edition

* is not this...Thanks for reading, bye.

Joking aside, this is a really disappointing remake, and not due to a lack of effort.

Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven is of course a cult classic in gaming, as much as Godfather is a cult classic movie. It is almost universally beloved, expect for the ominous racing chapter. Which is not hard, you just suck at driving #dealwithit.
So, a remake should be a slam dunk, right?

It seems to me that Hangar 13 has too much pride, not just for their own good but for everyone. Pride that is absolutely not earned, as Mafia 3 was a repetitive boring travesty. Of course I knew that going into the Definitive Edition, but I had thought Mafia was so perfect already it is not possible to mess it up. I stand corrected.

The Narrative

Why did I mention pride, and why is it a problem? Because Hangar 13 wasn't content with remaking the original scene to scene, they had to leave their own skidmarks on it. And boy they did on almost every scene. And that is not exaggeration on my part. They replaced most of the brilliant dialogue with their bellow average version.

It's as bad as if a child had read Hamlet and tried to replicate it. I'm really baffled how could they have butchered the dialogue this badly. It's not just that they changed a few narrative elements, that would not have made the game bad in of itself. They really did not understand or respect any of the characters of the game.

I was constantly facepalming while watching the cutscenes, because almost all the witty scenes I remembered had either been cut, replaced with a less classy version with unnecessary swearing, or simply was missing the punchline or the setup for it.

Here is one example without going much into spoilers for either the original or the new game. There is a mission called "lucky bastard" where you are tasked with killing a mob boss, in the original game you try to kill him twice but fail both times, then you are relegated to backup and  someone else gets the job and you watch from the background. It works because you are in it, you feel clumsy, you really understand why he's lucky. In the DE, they start the mission by instantly declaring that he is unkillable and lucky. Without even allowing you to try and kill him it is already established what he is. This way it has no weight that you can feel.

And almost all of the missions has a similar kind of rewriting, that takes a narrative that works on multiple levels and butchers it until it doesn't work even at face value.

There is also one major change in the story, that makes absolutely no sense, as it doesn't lead anywhere, it is not a setup for anything. They actually contradicted the original ending with it, but instead of reconciling it, or reversing the change, they just added another terrible line to patch the ending.

In the original game everyone involved oozed respect, here everyone seems like a jerk, even the protagonist.

The gameplay

In this they didn't do a terrible job. The game is modernized well enough. The driving is pretty good, the physics are decent enough. The shooting is also OK for the most part. But there is one major and a few minor issues.

The major problem is the cover system. It is terrible. Manual keypress needed to enter cover, and to exit cover as well, and even to switch cover you need to use another key. The manual entering would not be terrible, if half of the time your character wouldn't duck on the wrong side of the cover. I've died so many times because of this it's uncountable. But having to press a key to leave cover is just not modern enough. Also switching cover is clunky and convoluted, it's easier to just exit cover and re-enter it.

The first minor issue is that there is no steering wheel support in the game. Why would you need that? Simple: because they said they are being true to the original. And the original had steering wheel support. It actually schooled most simulators of its time with the quality it was implemented with. And of course driving without an analogue controller is not the greatest as the wheels constantly spin when trying to drive away in higher powered cars.

The other gameplay issue is the on-rails shooting sequences. These feel unnecessary, and tacked on, besides being almost impossible to complete. At least on the classic difficulty. Which is what the hardest setting is called. But overall the game is not that hard, except for a few tough spots and these on rails parts.

The shooting is sometimes frustrating, as only headshots count according to the game (or point blank shotgun blasts). If you don't get a direct forehead shot, just get enemies in the neck or body, or even the lower face, they can take 5-6 shots before they go down. Except for the tommy gun, from that they take multiple shots even to the head, and 8-10 to the body.

The sneak mechanics are good, you can even hide bodies, not that it is ever necessary during the story. There are only two missions where you need to use sneaking.

Melee combat is extremely easy, just dodge (you have a very long window to successfully dodge) and then counter. Most enemies can be taken down in one or two dodge / attack cycles. Some you don't even have to use dodge on once.

It wouldn't be fair if I didn't mention the race mission, yes it's still here, and it still frustrates people to hell. It was actually a bit more difficult than the original, in that I could lap the backmarkers in the 5 lap race. Here the race is only 3 laps, so no chance for lapping people, but I was out in the lead after 2 laps, and kept it till the end. I failed on the first few tries, because you need a bit of luck not to get stuck into another car during overtaking the entire field. Plus they added a few nasty scripted surprises to the race. (completely uncalled for)

The technical details

As you could see from the already posted screenshots at least they got one thing right: the graphics. The cars especially look great, and they sound right as well. Every car has an unique sound, and it's pretty decent 1930s car noise, with gear whine and grinding, and those big displacement underpowered inline engines. The only sound effect I wasn't satisfied with was the truck horn, they used a modern air horn sound effect for that.

The characters look decent, not great but above average. And the city actually looks great, there are a few scattered lowres textures but the overall graphics fidelity is high. They even used fake HDR effects in the game, that actually look great, but will frustrate you in a few missions when you can't see the enemies because of it.

The music however, is terrible. The same three chords are repeated ad nausea under every cutscene, and the in-game background music is just flat and completely forgettable. It sounds like they used royalty free music for the game.  I'm not saying it is that, but it is that bad.

Conclusion

I have a hard time recommending this game. If you played the original then that's why, if you haven't played it then that's why. If you don't mind the outdated gunplay you are better off getting hold of the original, there are lots of mods available for it, even one that fixes ultrawide in it. Speaking of ultrawide, I almost forgot. They managed to fuck that up too in DE. On ultrawide the pre-recorded cutscenes that are not rendered by the game engine are squished instead of showing with the correct aspect ratio. I don't actually know why half of the cutscenes are pre-rendered while the other half is real time rendered.  

Pros, cons, and scores

+

  • the graphics
  • the sound effects

-

  • unnecessary narrative changes
  • butchered lines of dialogue
  • side missions are cut out entirely
  • many driving missions are trimmed down or replaced with on-rails segments
  • scripted chases
  • clunky cover system
  • bullet sponge enemies
  • police impossible to outrun they are always faster than your car
  • music
  • everyone is an a-hole

Graphics/Realization: 9/10
Story/Atmoshpere: 3/10
Gameplay/Controls: 7/10
Overall impression: 4/10

Verdict: Wait for sale, or play the original instead