I never did play the original Mafia which released in 2002, mainly because I was way too caught up in the world of GTA.  However, looking back, it seems that I missed the opportunity to play a classic of its time.  This in fairness was an odd dismissive choice for me to make, seeing as I absolutely love mobster movies such as Goodfella’s, Casino, the Godfather Trilogy and more.  In 2011, I did jump into Mafia 2, which quickly became one of the favourite games of its generation, which made me think to myself even more “why didn’t I give the original Mafia game a fair crack of the whip?”  Thankfully, unlike the remaster of Mafia 2, 2K and developers Hanger 13 have remade that 2002 classic from the ground-up with new visuals, animations, cut-scenes, new scripts, musical score and more with the Mafia: Definitive Edition.

One of the reasons that I loved Mafia 2 is that it made me feel like I was playing out a mobster movie and this remake is no exception.  However, unlike the sequel for me personally drawing parallels to the likes of Goodfella’s, with Mafia: Definitive Edition being set from the early 1930’s, is perhaps more similar to that of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, albeit that great movie began its story much sooner, still I think comparisons can still be found, which is why I have no doubts that mobster movie fans will feel instantly drawn to this Mafia series.

Mafia: Definitive Edition’s story is set during the Great Depression, a global economic decline that was not only impacted worldwide, but across many countries throughout the world.  You play as taxi driver Tommy Angelo and by chance, he meets Paulie Lombardo and Sam Trapani, members of the Salieri family in the fictional city of Lost Heaven.  Soon after, Tommy lost his job at the expense of aiding Paulie and Sam, and when he seeks Don Ennio Salieri, the head of the Salieri family for help, it is here that he begins to earn the respect of the crime syndicate, lured in by the money and power that such a family brings, Tommy soon finds himself being a leading figure in one of the city’s most respected crime families.  However, life is not as luxurious as a bed of roses, not in this line of work and Tommy begins to learn the hard way, that there’s a fine line between loyalty, respect, riches and survival.

The city of Lost Heaven, in which the world is set, is an open-world and quite a large one.  It features city skyscrapers, suburbs, countryside and more.  However, much like Mafia 2, while this may be an open-world and at times a beautiful one to look at, it doesn’t really invite you to openly explore.  Sure you can, but I almost felt like I was wasting precious time, when I could be focusing on missions.  Unlike let’s say, Los Santos of GTA V, where the urge to explore is arguably stronger than that of the fantastic missions on offer.  This very well might be down to my own personal issue and wanting to get things done.  But I am a gamer that likes to explore and I often go the opposite way to see what’s around the next corner.

However, despite Lost Heaven being a very impressive city, I never did really get that urge to explore to see what secrets I could find or any additional side-missions.  Instead, the sense of exploration seems to be reserved for an additional mode called Free Ride mode, which lets you explore the city without the need to complete main mission objectives.  Though there are plenty of side-missions, hidden collectibles, racing and even partaking in Tommy’s previous job of being a Taxi driver when playing Free Ride.  However, I would recommend staying away from Free Ride mode until you’re done with the main campaign.

In terms of gameplay, this is your standard third-person action affair, it does everything on a decent enough level and I never encountered any major issues with how the gameplay works.  The enemy A.I might not be the brightest during the many shootouts that you’ll encounter in Lost Heaven and it is on a quite basic level and the melee feels good enough, though also quite basic, much like Mafia 2.  You can explore Lost Heaven both on foot and of course by car.  The driving itself feels good and it feels quite relaxing cruising the streets of Lost Heaven, which is a great benefit to that of the Free Ride mode.  Speaking of driving, in a first for the series, Mafia: Definitive Edition now features motorcycles, something that didn’t even feature in Mafia 3.

Visually, the city of Lost Heaven looks quite beautiful and is a huge leap from the likes of the Mafia 2: Definitive Edition.  The city is brimming with life, and seems to be quite possibly the best representation of what a 1930’s Chicago, Detroit or New York City might look like.  Everything from the city, vehicles, characters and even the officially licensed soundtrack manages to get a grasp of that nostalgic bygone era.  However, while the city creation can be nothing short of spectacular at times, the facial animations can be a mixed bag of tricks.

The voice acting is truly top notch, perhaps one of the best that I’ve experienced in this generation.  It’s just a shame that at times, some of the facial animations can look a little off and oddly during most cut-scenes, characters skin complexion can look great and then the next, they might look oddly pasty.  I’m not sure why this is the case, but if I’m not the only one that’s experienced this inconsistency, hopefully it’s something that the developers are fixing with a patch at a later date.

Speaking of a patch, a recent update note only added the aforementioned taxi missions to Free Ride mode, but a fantastic black and white Noir Mode has been added, which pays homage to the film noir movie era of its time.  The update also added the ability to remove HUD features such as navigation and mission indicators, as well as being able to remove all HUD features, just in case you wanted to take that snazzy screenshot to show-off Mafia: Definitive Editions, at times, quite fantastic city visuals.

Mafia: Definitive Edition despite some of its flaws and in fairness, even the greatest of games are not entirely perfect, it’s clear that the developers at Hanger 13 have created this game from an immense amount of pride.  Fans of the 2002 original will no doubt be in for a treat, seeing the stunning city of Lost Heaven crafted in this generation some 18 years later.  I can only look in from a fresh perspective, as I never really gave the original game much of a chance, which in hindsight, was my loss.  However, whether you’re a fan of the original Mafia or completely new, if you enjoy action-adventures, with a gritty, well written and supported story and in particular a fan of iconic mobster movies, like the protagonist Tommy Angelo, you will also fall for the enticements that Lost Heaven has to offer.  For better or worse, Mafia: Definitive Edition shows how a remake should be done.  Welcome to the family, you’ve been made.