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Hanger 13 has reintroduced the classic Mafia tale to the modern generation of consoles. This gorgeous recreation of the original 2002 game has trimmed out side quests in favor of more screen time to develop its characters and delivering a focused and linear journey through Tommy Angelo’s ascent in the Salieri Crime family. The Chicago inspired city is stunning to drive through, complemented by a spectacular cast of actors and an updated script, Mafia: Definitive Edition delivers a unique prohibition gangster experience.
The tale of the Salieri crime family doesn’t stray too far from the laid ground of other crime fiction, but it’s characters and situations keep it unique and captivating. The Great Depression struck and left the nation devastated, nine years after Prohibition passed, leaving business opportunities available to those not concerned with the law. Everyone else, however, is left to fend for themselves amongst the unprecedented economic disaster, and for what feels like years in-game, it dominates almost every conversation. It also has a major influence on many missions, getting a glimpse at how the general public is suffering, and makes the evil Tommy inflicts much more vile. Many gangster stories center around how working men turn into made men, through horrific acts of violence in pursuit of control, and this tale is no different. Tommy is acquainted with best pals Paulie and Sam off the bat and shows the two just how good of a cab driver he is. Getting the two out of a rough spot, Angelo has a way into the family. Starting off doing small time gigs such as collections and race fixing, eventually leading the tension between the Morello and Salieri families to a head. Tommy is caught in the middle of a war trying to keep up in the organized crime industry.
Through the years, Salieri relies on Tommy and the boys to do what’s necessary. The business life gets messy quickly, so a professional clean-up crew gets a lot of work in Lost Heaven. Relying on each other to get out of rough spots, the brotherhood formed between the trio is palpable. This connection between the enforcers of the family is brought even more to bare with gorgeously detailed cutscenes. The texture of every hat, the recognizable look of doubt in someone’s eyes only seen in real life, and the updated script elevate every aspect of the narrative. The camera work found in this title can rival some of the most respected crime films and brings the events to a personal level. Hanger 13 once again shows its expertise in crafting scenarios with characters. The cutscenes capture every nuanced emotion these people feel and it builds perfectly into the narrative to set tone.
One business meeting after another ingrains players into the culture of the family. The subtle injection of the Italian language is as wonderful here as it was in The Godfather, but isn’t shy of leading to humorous situations. When Prohibition ended, the public hoped it would reduce the mob violence, but the opposite happened. With business struggling, competition for what’s available became even more fierce. The era of public assassinations began and Salieri’s reign of terror commenced. During this period it becomes clear to Tommy that a life built on the terror and suffering of innocents could only end in tragedy.
Pedestrian and motorist A.I. has been handled well, making cruising through Lost Heaven a pleasure. Motorists drive consistently and pedestrians jump out of the way most of the time. Police can pull players over depending on the severity of the crime and the difficulty chosen, which is a nice feature held over all this time. Driving is satisfying and takes acclamation. As players learn how to manipulate cars around corners and turns at high speeds, they feel like the Saleiri’s designated wheelman, and players will have to get comfortable with hauling out of dangerous situations at breakneck speeds. This is more difficult on the simulation setting while relatively easy on the regular mode.
However players decide to engage with it, the act of escaping crime scenes doesn’t get dull throughout Tommy’s time in Lost Heaven. Motorcycles feel just as good to drive, so it’s a shame the story doesn’t make more use of them. To get the most out of them, players will need to go off on their own to find them. Mafia: Definitive Edition also owes much of the enjoyment from traversal to its radio. The classic soundtrack features great songs to cruise around to, but the implementation of the radio takes immersion to another level. There is nothing like driving to a job while hearing about economic reform in an attempt to pull the U.S. out of The Great Depression, or a presidential address just as an average joe would have heard cements Angelo’s place in the city.
The different districts are distinct and beautiful, each one breathing life into the city in different ways. Different architecture, shop fronts, hotels, restaurants, and advertising make each district unique. Every district has different citizens on the street discussing the different ways the Depression has affected their lives. While the scenarios that lead to gunfights are always varied and interesting, the act hasn’t evolved much since Mafia 2. The Tommy gun does have good sound design and it feels great to chop gangsters down with the iconic weapon, but the encounters and mission structure are competent at best. Most missions involve a car chase, cover shooting, and stealth almost never deviating from the formula of past Mafia titles. Along with the lack of side content, the mission structure will likely not be remembered as the best aspect of the experience.
Mafia: Definitive Edition brings the classic story of the first game up to par with the rest of the trilogy. With this gorgeous recreation of Lost Heaven revisiting the story that started it all has never been better. The mission structure isn’t innovative but the narrative makes up for it. The formula stands unchanged as the day it was created and leads to likely results, however for a Mafia fan, it’s an offer they can’t refuseStay tuned at Gaming Instincts via Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook for more gaming news.