The first look at Mafia: Definitive Edition is finally revealed. One does wonder if the most die-hard of Mafia series fans would have expected the remasters of the entire series, in a year that’s seen quite a few announcements for remasters and remakes already too. Whatever it is, it’s coming, and for a series like these, there are certain expectations that comes with remastering. It looks like a whole new game already when compared to the 2002 release.
In any case, we asked Haden Blackman, CEO of Hangar 13, a few questions from our burning curiosity to answer. With over 20 years of creative and production experience under his belt, he’ll be bringing his touch to Mafia.
Asking why a “definitive edition” instead of a direct sequel is a pretty natural question. Blackman admits the team did start work on an original IP once they were done with Mafia 3 and its DLC, while another group was working on Mafia franchise projects. This latter group pitched the “definitive edition” idea, wanting to remake it due to:
- having been part of the original team of the initial release
- use modern technology and gameplay sensibilities to have the game be more in line with their original vision, made for today’s consoles
All three games will available on the same platforms as well, lending to that feeling of a comprehensive Mafia experience. Blackman is confident Mafia 1 will be well received by fans, and should he be vindicated, a true sequel for the franchise would be justified. He expresses his hope to also do more games for the series; wonder where we would go next?
There are elements of “newly added narrative plot”. This means a bigger focus on Tommy’s relationship with the other characters, with Sarah being singled out. She’s the love interest in the game, but is only ever seen once in the original despite Tommy mentioning her a lot. By giving her more screentime and depth, players will be able to better understand why Tommy is willing to risk it all to protect her in the beginning of the game.
What we wanna do is expand upon it where it makes sense.
Besides Sarah, Paulie has also been given more depth, because he’s the big dreamer with the Plans to set up the things towards the end of the game. Blackman adds more bout the rivalry between the Morello and Salieri families: the latter are the underdogs in the rivalry which eventually escalate into a war, and they’ve tried to play it up.
They wanted the plot threads to make more sense and be easier to understand, with little changes here and there just to ensure a better flow. The main missions have been given the focus for Mafia: Definitive Edition, providing a linear narrative-driven experience in this beautiful world, with the pieces shuffled around.
Mechanics wise, Mafia: Definitive Edition has taken them from Mafia 3, but with changes to fit the game besides improvements to the AI. Tommy’s a cab driver who grew into his role as a mobster, but Lincoln Clay of Mafia 3 is a trained soldier. They’ll move differently, and have different weapons being in different eras. You could go guns a-blazing in 3, but they want you to think more carefully about your cover in Mafia. Likewise, there will be options at your disposal to make the game more challenging, or a more casual time if you simply want to enjoy the story.
It’s been 18 years since the original release of Mafia, and once again, they’ve updated the controls from Mafia 3 for Mafia: Definitive Edition. In the case of driving, it will also have settings to make it either more accessible, or have it behave closer like a simulation game. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, taking what’s best off 3 and adapting them accordingly to the game. Blackman wants you to have the game feel like a gangster-inspired thrill ride, to have plenty of fun with it and memorable with every major beat.
The COVID-19 situation has definitely impacted development, but thanks to working on Mafia 3, it was a little easier to optimize the assets. The biggest challenges were in regards to the gameplay and the missioins.
How do we update the gameplay, make this mission more memorable, make the combat more satisfying?
Bringing up the race mission of the original, they wanted to keep its spirit with the tracks remaining roughly the same, but also have players on the easiest difficulty setting still be able to clear it.
Enemies are deadlier in Mafia, because you’re no longer the trained soldier from 3 from which they’ve gotten most of the base systems. They’ll be using their arsenal more intelligently to flush you out, the ordinary Tommy turned mobster. The word “cinematic” is thrown out too in regards to the combat, referring to the tight combat set up and its flow. Enemies won’t be dropping in out of nowhere, to say the least.
Features weren’t exactly scrapped, Blackman emphasizing their focus on the core linear narrative around which all their features revolve around. They did cut out what they felt was repetitive, so if you were worried about those boring side missions, you don’t need to worry about that. Their mission to update Mafia can really be summarized as “focus on main story”.
Blackman hopes that the team’s labour of love gets through to the players, with scenes and encounters given loving attention and detail. They wanted to get the set pieces right, down to the flag; the American flag of the era had less stars than today. With their passion poured into the game, it’s only right that players should look forward to seeing Tommy back in action, with the whole cast of characters that make the story a whole.
It’s marrying the old and new with Mafia: Definitive Edition. It’s been a long 18 years since its release, and it’s getting some life again. Should a sequel come to fruition, what do you hope for it to have? It’ll soon be time to welcome new members into the family fold, or to greet the old boys again.
It’s time to go home.