Seems like yesterday when Illusion Softworks was preparing to release in the videogame market: Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. At that time, we were faced with a game that exalted great memorable scenes, accompanied by an impact soundtrack and a narration typical of the Italian underworld mold.
With the release of the Mafia II Remastered, we weren't very impressed, but as we anticipated, the big hit of hangar 13 it was the Definitive Edition of the first chapter, restored to glory for the current generation. This is a complete makeover, starting from the graphics engine up to the reworking of certain key scenes in the narrative.
Returning to Lost Heaven was a great emotion for us and pad in hand we went back to that Taxi, where the story began back in 2002.
The era of prohibition
The plot begins with Thomas Angelo, Said Tommy, who speaks to the Detective Norman, who listens to the story that the protagonist has to tell in order to frame Don Salieri, for whom worked from 1930 until 1938. The tale begins in 1930, when Tommy, after finishing his shift, finds himself embroiled in a major shooting, where two men threaten to kill him if he refuses to drive and help them slay the other family's rivals.
After a heated escape, the Don Salieri he rewards Tommy with a large sum, finding himself the next day to be crossed by the enemies he had sown with the two Italian "friends" he had helped the night before. From here begins the path to the underworld, where every job is paid well, entering a bloody fight against Don Morello, long-time friend of Salieri who is now competing for the city of Lost Heaven.
The story allows us to get to know many characters, all with a past behind them. With this new edition, some characters showed a very deep backstory behind them, adding a considerable emphasis to the whole story. Even the cutscenes between Tommy and Detective Norman are much more realistic, you can feel how the first is nervous and afraid of being seen by prying eyes while he is betraying his family.
Reworking the entire script wasn't an easy task, but the guys from Hangar 13 did it with excellent results. Some characters remained slightly stereotyped. If the first Mafia was already flawless in its original version, this remake is a real gem, the best of the three chapters of the series.
Sicilian culture is palpable in some phases of history, but unfortunately certain points are inconsistent and almost annoying, with overly forced dialects and with an Italian dubbing that cripples the pronunciation of many terms.
The longevity is about nine hours, we spent them playing in normal mode, trying to explore as much as possible within the missions, in search of collectibles. As you well know, the title does not allow free exploration during the campaign, it will be a single story that will take us to the end in a guided path, dictated for the purposes of the story.
Variety at the base
To explore the immense Lost heaven we will have the “free drive” mode, which will allow us to get everything we have left around the city, stealing cars and adding them to our collection. Among the various collectibles we find the magazines, once again present and hidden in less visible points.
While it can be fun to explore the city, the real element still remains the main story, the hub for which Mafia has become a legendary title, carving a place in the hearts of several players. Because it is important to reiterate one element, this is not a Grand Theft Auto freeroaming where the world plays a leading role, this is a production that revolves around the characters and their backgrounds, leaving the rest as a secondary element.
The missions are varied, often we will find ourselves involved in firefights typical of the 30s, where the mafia fought for the smuggling of goods and for the conquest of the territories of the adversaries. Fortunately, they are all varied, no mission is repetitive, indeed, it often encourages us to move forward.
The town of Lost Heaven is alive, enriched by many elements on the screen, including vehicles and citizens who roam the city. Driving on the streets is much more "difficult" than in the past, the police will notice every single suspicious movement, especially if we do not respect the rules of the road.
The impact between the vehicle and atmospheric conditions seemed more than excellent, in fact on rainy days our vehicles will have less grip. Congratulations go to the developers for making the vehicles "heavy" and real, even if the driving is very arcade and does not aim entirely at realism.
The hitbox is not accurate, we will often find ourselves faced with a too vague system of shots, glimpsing an uncertainty in the combat system. Fortunately, the AI is quite fierce, there will be occasions where they will force us to implement a much more "calm" strategy designed to avoid premature death.
We would have expected some more improvements from the Mafia 3 experience, but despite the various feedback from gamers, many of the flaws have been passed down in this chapter. We were pleased with the realism that the gameplay offers, the aim is never too precise, because Tommy is nothing more than a former taxi driver, not an experienced gangster, reflecting the latter on the player.
The settings of Mafia still remain one of the high points of the production today, giving off all that atmosphere of an Italian-based gangster film. We were greatly surprised by the various facial expressions of the characters, the polygonal models were treated and enriched with many details. The cast was flawless throughout their performances, giving a near-perfect overall picture.
The Italian dubbing is of excellent workmanship, but characters like Paulie show some discrepancies during the execution of the Sicilian dialect, with terms and pronunciations totally wrong but above all too stereotyped. The soundtrack manages to give the best of itself, enriching those emotionally strong moments of the story, reconstructing with sounds some moments full of pathos and unforgettable.
We have had the opportunity to get our hands on the version for PlayStation 4 Pro, where the game offers a granite stability, with a graphic sector enriched by high quality textures. Also the light effects manage to make Lost Heaven one of the most beautiful settings in the videogame genre. Despite this, there are several annoying pop-ins, not to mention some places treated only marginally and with bare scenarios.
Mafia: Definitive Edition it is a masterpiece not without flaws, which manages to tell a story of blood and respect. Although we already knew the events of Thomas Angelo, reliving them with all these improvements in the script made the story even stronger.
The technical problems do not impact the gaming experience, fortunately hangar 13 did not repeat the same mistakes made with the remastered of the second chapter. Although 18 years have passed, Mafia is back in its near-perfect form, showing no signs of aging in the following chapters.