Mafia: Definitive Version is an attention-grabbing time capsule that not solely lets gamers expertise Tommy Angelo’s rise in an ersatz ‘30s-era Chicago dubbed Misplaced Heaven, however will possible encourage higher appreciation for a way far the trade has come since 2002. Hangar 13 has rebuilt the almost 20-year-old sport, bringing the visuals as much as modern requirements and including just a few quality-of-life enhancements whereas finally respecting the unique’s core design. It’s an admirable strategy, however then you must really play the damned factor.
The early Mafia video games used their open worlds otherwise than their opponents, with cities that aren’t actually interactive playgrounds, however are extra much like movie soundstages. You’re free to peel off from the subsequent story beat and discover aspect streets and again roads, however don’t look forward to finding a lot in the way in which of optionally available actions or attention-grabbing secrets and techniques. As a substitute, the narrative relentlessly drives you ahead, with the top of 1 chapter propelling you proper into the beginning of the subsequent. Must catch your breath? Too unhealthy! It is an attention-grabbing strategy, and one which I’d most likely take pleasure in extra if the story was extra partaking. Sadly, Angelo’s story is disjointed and boring, with time skips that undermine the way you’re speculated to really feel concerning the relationships that he apparently builds through the years.
Angelo’s story is advised in flashbacks as he’s going over his previous with an investigator. He begins his rise as a taxi driver pulled into the mob by happenstance, then turns into the sufferer (and participant) in all of the intrigue, backstabbing, and capers you’d anticipate. There’s an attention-grabbing story in right here someplace, however the timeline strikes so erratically that I by no means felt related with Angelo’s plight as a person caught between loyalties. We meet his eventual spouse and are advised that they love one another, however their interactions are so lifeless and sparse that Angelo’s eventual speech concerning the significance of household feels hole and unearned. The newly recorded voice performances are stable, however inconsistent. Some characters, like Angelo and Don Ennio Salieri, give understated, naturalistic performances. It’s jarring to listen to them work together with characters like Paulie, who offers his traces a livelier (and sometimes hammy) learn. Generally, it felt like these characters had been yanked from totally different tales.
Almost each mission predictably ends in a hail of gunfire; it’s a gangster story, in spite of everything. Along with tossing molotovs and filling the air with bullets, I additionally hurled a constant stream of profanity at my tv. The gunplay is solely horrible, with weapons that really feel sluggish and underpowered. It’s not unusual to dial in a number of headshots earlier than an enemy registers the harm, flopping to the bottom in a dramatic ragdoll flop. Rival gangsters glide between cowl factors like Fred Astaire on ice skates, or pop out and in of security in suicidal frenzies. Melee fight is even worse, with profitable button-mashing rewarding you with canned finishing-move animations that seem like hokey struggle choreography from a middle-school manufacturing of West Aspect Story. And woe to those that set off considered one of these unskippable animations in the course of a battle. Enemies might be able to shrug off your bullets, however you’re not so fortunate.
Finally, it’s tough to shake the very actual feeling that you simply’re enjoying a relic from a bygone period. There are some set-piece moments, resembling busting down a warehouse door with a rail automobile or escaping an deserted jail, however the thrills that they could have as soon as provided are introduced down by the subpar gameplay you’re caught with as soon as the smoke clears. The worst examples are the occasions while you’re pressured into stealth sequences. There are only some of those sections, fortunately, however the “elevate the alarm means sport over” failure stakes make them extra about frustration than in constructing stress.
The unique Mafia was well-received at its launch, and I’m positive lots of people bear in mind it fondly. For me, it’s one thing that’s most likely finest seen as a foundational assertion in a collection that received higher over time and subsequent entries. As a part of the Mafia trilogy, it’s an attention-grabbing footnote on what got here earlier than. As a standalone sport that may maintain its personal towards trendy titles within the open-world style? Fugetaboutit.