Hanger 13 has distributed preview codes to games media for Mafia: Definitive Edition, and unlike the Mafia 2 remaster– which was just a texture pack– this title is being rebuilt from the ground up. The major story beats are being maintained however, the script has been updated to give more backstory, expand certain cutscenes, and introduce new gameplay sequences. With the addition of best-in-class cinematics Hanger 13 is known for and an updated Mafia 3 engine, this experience is shaping up to be one that grabs players’ attention.
Players fill the shoes of Tommy Angelo, a taxi cab driver working in Lost Heaven one year after the stock market crash. The Chicago inspired city is facing the consequences of the newly implemented prohibition on alcohol and gang violence is escalating into a war. At the end of a late night shift Tommy is entangled in the conflict and unknowingly performs a favor for Don Salieri. Already proven his worth as a driver under pressure, the Don offers Tommy a place in the Salieri crime family. As the underdog crime family compared to the dominant Morello crime family, Tommy will be a part of the Salieri’s climb to power as they prove there is enough room in Lost Heaven for two organized crime families. As the two families engage in a vicious competition to control the city and its people, players will get to see Tommy’s experience on the frontlines of an organized crime war and what it takes to break into the liquor racket during prohibition.
Mafia: Definitive Edition is a technical spectacle, the updated Mafia 3 engine has been perfected for this generation of consoles and the new lighting system is breathtaking. The visuals of this title will be the first thing that impresses gamers. It was obvious from the announcement of a car viewer that the attention to detail would be immaculate in this experience, but that sentiment has spread far beyond just the vehicles. The way metals shine on the cars and puddles reflect in the rain are nothing short of incredible and look like it could be the perfect setting for an implementation of ray tracing, perhaps on the next generation of consoles. These are new accomplishments for the developer, however, Hanger 13 established an artistry with narrative presentation and performance capture in Mafia 3 and that precedent is still upheld in Mafia: Definitive Edition. The script is solid and supports great actors that immerse players into Tommy’s lifestyle and the time period. The orchestral score has also been re-recorded, showing the lengths Hanger 13 is going through to bring every aspect of this experience up to and above par, unlike other recent remakes such as Destroy all humans.
A distinction in gameplay from Mafia 3 that may catch gamers off-guard is how unaccustomed to combat Tommy is. Tommy was never a special forces veteran, he is a simple taxi driver and his gameplay reflects this. He is much slower and his aim is stiff compared to Lincoln Clay’s dead eye combat abilities. The animations also reflect this, instead of grotesquely disassembling humans with tactics from the special forces, Tommy opts for more simplistic methods of brutalizing his opponents such as broken nose with a bat and a kick to the groin, that really sell the gangster style of brutality. Tommy’s lower control emphasizes that he is not confident with a gun and will be immediately overwhelmed when entering a gun fight with a rival gang. This makes taking the stealthy approach as far as possible a useful tool to make encounters manageable. Stepping away from the repetitive structure of Mafia 3, Hanger 13 is using it’s mastery of cinematics and performance capture to personalize moments with characters and build up missions with story contexts from its characters.
Tommy’s experience as a cab driver makes him the first candidate for any driving the Salieri’s need done, a few missions have Tommy acting as a chauffeur for the family. The infamous racing mission was included in the preview as a show of good faith that frustrating sections are being redone to add tenison, not artificial difficulty. The driving feels authentic to the period and players definitely need to be mindful to change their driving habits to fit the car they drive. Individual cars also have distinct handling from each other and put gamers in the position to choose the right tool for the job. The choice to make cars handle like massive hunks of machinery grounds players in the setting and brings a challenge to traversal that feels as fresh as the time period. This gives car chases and the thrill of making a turn the satisfaction, that if not driven perfectly, it could all end in disaster.