Once the credits started rolling after the final cut scene had concluded, I was left with a sense of completion and amazement from what I had just experienced. To say I was pleasantly surprised by this game is a massive understatement. Going into Mafia Definitive edition, my bar of expectation was set to low. The reason for this was due to not having played the original so I didn’t have that element for comparison. Also, the technical mess of bugs that riddled the Mafia 2 definitive edition game.
However, all that worry went immediately out the window as soon as I hit the start button.
Firstly, the main and extremely impressive trait this game has going for it (besides its story) is the graphics. The opening sequence set this up straight away for me. It felt like a preview for what the game had in store for me, plus establishing the beautiful setting of Lost Heaven.
The opening cut scene alone impressed me with how on point the facial animations and motion capture are in this game. Besides each main character looking like their real-life counterparts, the facial movements of the lips, cheeks, nose and eyes are incredibly realistic. I found myself at times that engrossed in a cut scene, that I actually forgot I was playing a game and instead thought I was watching a movie.
So yes, the graphics are a huge selling point in this game. Yet that is not all.
The story has to be one of ‘The’ best stories I have played in a video game since Alan Wake. Every note hit high. There was no point where I felt the story fell flat. Everything flowed.
From the way the story is set up is very cinematic. You can tell this game (and the original) drew its inspiration from films such as Goodfella’s and The Godfather.
It begins with the main character of Tommy Angelo hiding in a dinner waiting for a Detective Norman. Once he arrives we learn how Tommy was inducted into the mafia and all the actions leading up to this meeting in the dinner. The main brunt of the playable story is effectively a flashback. Which is good narratively as it’s a non-linear approach to storytelling, whereas most video game stories opt for the linear style approach. For example, character A starts here, and we follow him all the way to the conclusion here.
It’s an engaging way to tell the story as right from the beginning your finding yourself asking the question ‘How did Tommy get here? And what trouble is he in?’. You find yourself invested throughout the game in order to answer those questions.
Now throughout my play through I found there were those brief moments where I was simply amazed at what was on my screen. Hanger 13 have definitely pulled out all the stops here as the attention to detail is incredible.
I’m not talking about character models and facial animations. I’ve made it clear already that the graphics impressed me. No. These are the little details that if you look hard enough will surprise you for how lifelike this game is.
This first caught my attention when I was driving a car down a road leading to a tunnel. In the car, I was listening to the radio. I expected the radio to keep playing the same way all throughout my car ride. However, once I entered the tunnel my car radio became all distorted like it was losing the signal. As soon as I exited the tunnel the signal came back and the radio started playing normally again. I must have gone back and forth through that tunnel six times as a small little detail such as that made my play through memorable for being that impressed.
But there are other small (yet amazing) details dotted throughout this game.
Cars shiny bodyworks reflect the world around them. People react to the exact location you shot them. NPC’s react to the rain in a way you’d expect them to. Blood trails in your footprints if you walk through a bloody body. And my favourite small detail of all, NPC’s flip you off with their middle finger if you kill them.
Hanger 13 have literally thought of everything for this game to make it that immersive experience that you want to have.
In terms of gameplay, the game does this right. It plays like mafia 2 and 3 combined, with the best elements of both mixed together. Gun play was especially enjoyable. At times I felt like John Wick, moving through each room clearing out enemies with my pistol. At other times I felt the rising tension of a skirmish, with my ammo and health depleting and having to be wise on how I would use both to my advantage.
Once completing the game it offers a free play option where you can explore the streets of lost heaven in search of all the collectables and cars scattered around the map. So it definitely has that added replay factor.
The voice-over work in this game is top-notch. A massive round of applause to all the main cast and even the supporting cast. There was not one bad performance in this. All the characters felt believable and in turn, had that added character about them. Even the music lent to the immersion, giving it that film noir feels mixed with an old gangster film score.
Unfortunately, though, this game is not without its flaws. Technical issues in Mafia are the one thing setting it back from being that perfect experience. Ironically the issues I experienced while playing Mafia definitive edition were all too familiar to the issues I had when playing Mafia 3 when it was first released. These came in the form of all the sound randomly cutting out during cutscenes, textures not loading quick enough and character models clothing randomly flapping around while sat stationary during a cut scene. These luckily were not on the same level of concerning issue that Mafia 2 definitive edition had, the issues in that game made it more of a chore to play rather than being fun. Yet the issues in this game did not detract from my enjoyment. I only had one bad experience in which the game crashed and I had to restart it completely in order to continue.
That being said it did not detract from my enjoyment.
Overall I believe Hanger 13 have outdone themselves with Mafia definitive edition. From the graphics, motion capture, voice acting, music, story and the attention to detail, this game is enjoyable, immersive and a blast to play. The bugs are a nuisance every now and again, but they don’t detract from the enjoyment. I would like to see these bugs addressed and fixed in a later update or patch, but for now, I’ll make do.
Mafia definitive edition gets a solid 9/10.
Mafia definitive edition is available for PS4, Xbox One and PC. This review was based on playing the game on an Xbox One S. The game retails at £34.99 standalone or £49.99 as part of the Mafia trilogy including Mafia definitive edition, Mafia 2 definitive edition and Mafia 3 definitive edition.
Mafia Definitive Edition is available on the following platforms – PC, Xbox One and PS4
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game and can be purchased here for £34.99.
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