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Mafia: Definitive Edition First Impressions – A Labor of Passion

Tommy would be happy.
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While the Mafia II and III releases back in May were remasters, what immediately sets Mafia: Definitive Edition apart is the simple fact that it is a remake. With the game being rebuilt from the ground up, Mafia: Definitive Edition will feature an updated script, expanded stories, and new features that fans of the series can look forward to.

The release is about a month away, September 25, but getting to play an early preview of the game thus far gives us confidence that Hangar 13 have something special going on here. From the first 5 minutes to the last chapter that we’ve had the privilege of playing, it shows that the remake was done with passion and love for the series, successfully bringing back this 2002 classic back to life and is on track to be a remake done right.

Defining Moments

Filled with an intriguing and cinematic storyline with immersive gameplay, the original Mafia is a memorable title from the previous decade. Illusion Softworks (then), the developers of the original game, introduced various features to the limited open-world genre, which was then dominated by titles like Grand Theft Auto III. Mafia managed to capture an audience that was longing for a richer and grander experience of the criminal underworld.

Fast forward to 2020, Mafia: Definitive Edition is a total repackage of the classic game. While there isn’t any significant change in the plot, the script was rewritten to make it more accurate during the time of the game’s setting. Most of the casts in the original game also returned to reprise their role, including Marec Vasut as Thomas “Tommy” Angelo.

Perhaps the most obvious change can be attributed to how the Definitive Edition looks and feels. While it is to be expected, given the technology at hand today, the transition from 2002 to 2020 is impressive, from the new textures and models to the smoothness in character animations. Each turn of Tommy is motion captured well, and it is impressive to see him move gracefully along the streets of Lost Heaven, the game’s version of 1930 Chicago.

Every part of the city is picturesque. You can pause the game any time and take a screenshot of any scene. It looks good during the day, and it is at its finest at night. I was preoccupied with the progress of my story during my preview playthrough, so I was limited by taking photos while inside my shiny vintage car. The game does not have any photo mode features, but I hope that they will consider so in the future.

Accessible Remake

Mafia: Definitive Edition is a title that is accessible, even to PC gamers. While it will run on consoles with very little hitches due to its boot up and forget nature, the PC requirements are also quite modest, as the minimum requirements to run the game would not push gamers to upgrade. The game will run theoretically with the following specs:

  • CPU: Intel i5-2500K or AMD FX-8120
  • RAM: 6 GB
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64-bit
  • VIDEO CARD: 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 or 2GB AMD Radeon HD7870
  • PIXEL SHADER: 5.0
  • VERTEX SHADER: 5.0
  • SOUND CARD: DirectX Compatible
  • FREE DISK SPACE: 50 GB
  • DEDICATED VIDEO RAM: 2048 MB

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If you want to smoothly play the game, 2K’s recommended specs are not too demanding either:

  • CPU: Intel i7-3770 or AMD FX 8350
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64-bit
  • VIDEO CARD: 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 or 4GB AMD Radeon R9 290X
  • PIXEL SHADER: 5.0
  • VERTEX SHADER: 5.0
  • SOUND CARD: DirectX Compatible
  • FREE DISK SPACE: 50 GB
  • DEDICATED VIDEO RAM: 4 GB

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While this is the case, you’ll need to tweak your settings a bit to get picture-perfect screenshots. For benchmarking, I played the preview version of the game and benchmarked it in various graphics settings: High, Optimal, Medium and Low. For reference, here’s the specs of our gaming PC:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core Processor
  • RAM: 32 GB
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Version 1909)
  • VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super

The game shines at high settings with very minor FPS jank. As I scour through the display settings, I am presented with presets that allow me to tweak specific elements of the game that range from geometry detail, vegetation, decals, direct/indirect lighting, shadow, reflection, volumetric effects, and antialiasing.

Average FPS (represented with white bar) is at 65.2 at one of the busiest corners of the game and 59.6 while driving around St. Michael Cathedral.

The best preset that is automatically calibrated for your system is the optimal setting. This preset gave me the best performance without a sacrifice in quality.

While this is the case, the performance of both medium and low presets does not affect the overall experience. Quality is relative per system, so whatever data you are seeing may not be reflective of your experience on your own system.

Mafia: Redemption

Mafia: Definitive Edition is looking to be like the remake we deserve, with 2K and Hangar 13 seemingly hitting the right notes to produce a game that’s worthy of praise. Of course, being an early preview, it is too early to speak of our final verdict for the game, but having played a total of six chapters of the game gives me reason to believe that it is the Mafia we deserved to have but didn’t get until now, a fulfillment of a vision that is now within reach.

Some may perceive this game as a proper redemption of the seemingly flawed remaster of Mafia 2 and 3 and while that may be correct to a certain degree, I see this as a redemption of itself from the shackles of technological irrelevance. Mafia: Definitive Edition is largely unforgettable due to its story and reliving it with current-gen graphics simply cements its place as a must play.

Mafia: Definitive Edition is scheduled to release on September 25 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Mafia: Definitive Edition was previewed on an early access PC build through a code provided by the Publishers.

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