Shortly after Rockstar seemed to define with GTA 3 what a three-dimensional open world game should look like, Czech Illusion Softworks proved that it can also be very different. In Mafia, you didn't find any distracting side missions and activities, but a tight focus on a crime epic inspired by the works of Francis Ford Copolla and Martin Scorsese, in which taxi driver Tommy Angelo accidentally grows into a "made man". Eighteen years later, it's up to developer Hangar 13 to demonstrate why Mafia has such legendary status.

Make no mistake, Mafia: Definitive Edition is not a simple polish with some new textures and a higher resolution. It’s really a newly made game, with different actors, new and old music, and minor story changes. Especially the “new” Tommy Angelo takes some getting used to. The version, performed by Andrew Bongiorno, is much more of a sleek slick than the actually slightly too soft and sweet Tommy from the original. Now that his love life with Sarah has also been brought into the limelight, the new iteration looks a lot more human. Practical adjustments aside, the story is 99 percent the same.

Everything you can remember about Mafia after eighteen years is in the game. The cursed racing mission which fortunately can now be done a lot better, the infiltration on the paddle boat, the shooting in the parking garage: everything is there. Mafia: Definitive Edition is therefore one big “Oh yes!” Moment. That is, if you played the original.

If not, Mafia: Definitive Edition’s weaknesses are much more noticeable. Take the shooting system for example. Major parts of the game consist of emptying pistols, Luparas  and of course iconic Tommy guns. However, you never get the feeling that deadly lead is being sprayed. Impact bullets make an unimpressive sound and bodies barely react when riddled. A traditional settlement therefore comes across as tame, while sometimes you hardly realize that you are under attack yourself.

In addition, the heavily undersized AI is a permanent thorn in the side. During stealth missions, for example, it is completely unpredictable what the enemy will and will not see, but even in shooting and fist fights the AI ​​does not show its best side. Enemies run around like headless chickens, don’t get it when you flank them and don’t anticipate at all when you walk up to treat them with a punch on the clean-shaven cheeks. Incidentally, pedestrians are not much more intelligent, because they’ll simply cross over and over again when driving though the streets. Even in the midst of intense chases with men hanging from windows with submachine guns!

Furthermore, it seems to be random which enemies do and do not appear on your radar, and something graphically can still go wrong. Especially in the already wooden fist fights, an arm, leg or entire body often accidentally passes through a wall. Let’s just say Mafia: Definitive Edition is not technically an impressive game.

Despite this, the strongest thing about the original remains proudly standing eighteen years later. Not only does the story remain strong from start to finish and the new actors deliver a good job, Mafia’s entire zeitgeist is right. The art deco architecture of Lost Heaven, those unwieldy cars that sometimes don’t even go faster than 40 mph, bells that sound like a goose being throated and the old-fashioned music of The Mills Brothers and Lonnie Johnson exude enough atmosphere to fall in love, again.

Another nice detail that cannot be left unmentioned: the police can hand out fines. A mild traffic violation such as a speeding violation or driving a red light will cause the police to come after you, but if you can’t get out, you can just handle it in a civilized way. As a real wiseguy you don’t want any unnecessary problems with the long arm of the law.

Mafia: Definitive Edition is therefore primarily a love letter to the original, intended for everyone who actually played the original. An accessible way to bring back those warm memories of eighteen years ago, on contemporary consoles and PCs, without having to turn to a GOG version where the music has been stripped out due to licensing problems. If you know how much fun it is humming Chinatown, my Chinatown while tracking down someone who needs to get “greetings” from the Don, Mafia: Definitive Edition is the place to be.

Mafia: Definitive Edition is now available for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For this review, the game was played on a PS4 Pro.



+ Intriguing and well-interpreted story
+ Intense atmospheric world
+ A complete and fresh remake, not just an upgrade

– Shooting system lacks impact
– Substandard AI