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Mafia: Definitive Edition review – a modernised, much-loved mob story

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September 30, 2020 at 04:22PM

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PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (version tested); Hangar 13/2K Games
This is a gripping tale of crime families, sharp shooting and sharper suits – but has this remaster lost some of Mafia’s charm?

In the wake of Grand Theft Auto III’s success in the early noughties, many action games were happy to follow Rockstar’s blueprint and build a big city map, where the player could roam freely and do heinous things to passers-by. Illusion Softworks (now 2K) saw things differently: if the hardware of the day was capable of realising enormous 3D spaces, why not treat a virtual city as a grand movie set, rather than a sociopath’s playpen?

So they did. The original Mafia: City of Lost Heaven, in 2002, was a third-person action game with a unique filmic quality, not just because it referenced a different Scorsese movie with every breath, but also because it dared to tell a linear story within a city map that was as big as anyone had ever seen. Eighteen years on, it’s been rebuilt from the ground up with modern technology, and it’s still that cinematic quality that shines brightest. What’s surprising is that in its effort to update every facet of a classic game, it buffs out some of the rougher elements that were essential to its charm.

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