Mafia: Definitive Edition Hands-On – It’s time to join the family (again)

Posted on August 27, 2020

Mafia: Definitive Edition is a complete remaster of the original 2002 title from the ground up developed by Hangar 13, who previously helmed Mafia III’s development. We recently got to spend some time with a preview build and let’s just say, this is worth joining the mob for.

The original game was received well upon its initial launch for its story and gameplay, but it has not aged well, and looking back its age certainly shows. This remastered edition aims to update the story of Tommy Angelo with remastered gameplay and visuals. This preview build enabled me to play through 6 chapters of the story, 5 taking place at the beginning of the game in 1930, with the last chapter jumping ahead a couple of years to provide a feel for where the story is heading.


The story of Mafia centers around Tommy Angelo, a cab driver in the city of Lost Heaven (based on Chicago) who gets caught up helping members of the Salieri mob one day. What unfolds is a dark, gritty, and deeply captivating story of one man’s rise through the ranks of a city controlled by warring mobs.

We start off with Tommy in a cafe in 1938, obviously stressed and anxious as he is in hiding before a detective enters and begins to question Tommy about his history with the mob. This is when we travel back to 1930 to the start of Tommy’s encounter with the mob as he retells the events leading up to here. This scene was extremely entertaining and felt like something you would see from a Scorsese film, with amazing facial captures, excellent voice overwork, and a score that really helped to elevate the scene.

In fact, all the cut-scenes are handled with care and made me sit back to soak it all in. All of the characters felt unique, with their own distinctive personalities and traits, a standout for me being Paulie; one of the more senior mob members who has a very distinctive voice that brought genuine joy whenever he appeared on the screen.

Let’s get this out of the way, this game is downright beautiful, that is to say, this is a remaster done right. The Mafia 2 remaster essentially tweaked the graphics to HD and changed a little here and there, but Mafia: Definitive Edition has gotten a complete overhaul in every way possible. The city feels alive, with pedestrians going about their day, interacting with one another, breathing life into the world. Environments are full of character, with neon signs and billboards advertising smoking; every building, every street seems to have its own personality, making the multiple districts of Lost Heaven feel unique in their own right.

A later section of the preview took place during a huge downpour of rain, which again, was absolutely beautiful, impacting the entire city. Driving past pedestrians on the street, I noticed them huddling themselves for warmth, running faster to get to their destination, and holding their hands above their heads to stop the rain from hitting their head. There is just so much attention to detail here that it is difficult to ignore.

I constantly found myself stopping whilst driving around to take in the scenery and visuals, to admire the authentic feeling 1930’s era clothing, accents, vehicles, and setting, it was astonishing to be a part of this world. The map of Lost Heaven may feel smaller at first than what we are accustomed to in open-world games, but with this amount of detail and character, I would hardly say this is a drawback. There are still plenty of areas to visit and travel to, keeping in mind the vehicles of the era aren’t exactly speed demons.

I constantly found myself stopping whilst driving around to take in the scenery and visuals, to admire the authentic feeling 1930’s era clothing, accents, vehicles, and setting, it was astonishing to be a part of this world.

The gameplay itself has also had modern touches, enhancing the control and feel. Shooting goons feels impactful and fun, with a standard over-the-shoulder approach to action incorporating a cover mechanic that felt adequate enough.

The vehicles all feel clunky and hard to control, along with often feeling sluggish to drive, but as I mentioned earlier, when you take into account the era, you can’t exactly expect to be driving around in Ferrari’s and sports cars that handle with ease.

One section that I found could have been left out was a racing mission, where you are tasked with pacing first in the race to ensure the Don does not lose a major bet. This is probably a personal thing for me, but I have never enjoyed forced racing missions in games, and with the fact that the vehicles are difficult to handle as is, it just proved to be a very frustrating mission that I wish I could have skipped getting back to the regular gameplay.

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The music feels straight out of a mob movie, with deep horns and orchestral themes that perfectly elevate the events going on in the scene. Driving around the radio announcer and jazz music that often plays just feels like what you would hear if you lived in the 1930s, the attention to detail here is nothing short of perfect.

I may have only had a small taste of what the full title will offer, but I can say that Hangar 13 have done an impressive job updating Mafia for modern audiences and adding more to this new version than the original. As it stands, the full release next month is one I am looking forward to and cannot wait to get my hands on.

Mafia: Remastered Edition releases September 25th 2020 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.