Released in 2002 on PC, Xbox, and PS2, Mafia game was a minor nugget in its day. The atmosphere, the science of staging, the adult purpose, and the reconstruction of America’s 1930s prohibition are all elements that have made it an essential game for all gangster universe enthusiasts.
If the franchise were to be turned down in two other rather different episodes, and which still hold an acceptable position despite the years, particularly with regard to the already aging Mafia II, the mafia first called the name would deserve a bit of varnish, and this is what appears to be plotting in Deck 13’s buildings, overseen by 2K, according to recent rumors and clumsiness from the Windows Store.
The prospect of a necessary remake?
Most recently, 2K redesigned its franchise by distributing a trailer for a particular one Mafia Trilogy. If you suspect that that trilogy will contain the three parts of the franchise in one box, it’s hard to know exactly whether the first two episodes will benefit from a revision at the same time to bring them up to date.
After the announcement, the North American page of the Microsoft Store has put the files Mafia game and Mafia II: Definitive Edition online. The latter’s card featured remaster status, likely understand the redesign of HD, and the release would be scheduled for May 19, when details about the Mafia trilogy would be revealed.
But it is actually the possibility of one Mafia Definitive Edition which caught the attention of many fans of the first opus of the franchise. If the Windows Store page is listed, it was removed after only staying online for a few hours, some information, which we will treat with care, however, nothing is official by 2K for now, let’s take a look at the prospect of a complete remake, with a swarm of screenshots illustrating the redesign, to say the least. Indeed, the first Mafia game could very well come back to us in an integral remake and, it should be acknowledged, a thorough rework of the game wouldn’t be too much for a new generation of people who missed the game when it came true, to allow, to get an idea of the many qualities without suffering from the very aging character.
A timeless frame, an outdated game
Mafia game was great in many ways. He was indeed one of the first to so faithfully portray the spirit of his cinematographic inspiration, the godfather in mind. Mafia essentially puts you in the shoes of Tommy Angelo, a taxi driver who unwittingly starts trading the Salieri family, in open war with the Morello family. An ordinary citizen, Tommy will become an important member of his family as he carries out multiple missions in the heart of the fictional city of Lost Heaven and its environs.
This was undoubtedly where all the salt was at stake. He recited with respect, but without being too academic, the codes inherent in mafia movies and enjoyed a solid screenplay, both from the dramatic register and from action and humor, and from a careful staging. The characters had the body, their relationships were credible, deep, and the player’s attachment to Tommy’s character during the adventure was immediate and unconditional.
Wrongly compared to GTA III released a year earlier, the mafia certainly took place in an open world, but the latter was more of a setting planted to give the game’s universe more body than a pretext for the multitude of missions and activities. The circulation in Lost Heaven was really only useful for following the storyline of the game that the player couldn’t deviate from.
And from this point of view, Mafia’s gameplay was deadly behind. Driving, third-person combat, and chase sequences looked pretty good back then compared to competing standards, but they weren’t close to the heights and even then some elements of the game weren’t flawless. And if you would like to watch Mafia game afterward today, they might take precedence over the script and the atmospheric qualities that are available.
For these reasons, the possibility of a complete overhaul of this first would be excellent news if, however, it is thoroughly implemented. According to some information on the game page, the gameplay would be updated and the story expanded. And referring to the few screenshots that aired for a few hours, the redesign seems to have been taken seriously and have not adopted his remake label. Lost Heaven does indeed seem well on track to justify its presence on the current-generation console, as the title is planned a priori for an exit late August following.
Visually, it seems that Lost Heaven has given itself a makeover. To be in tune with modern open worlds, the latter will have to bet on the population, traffic, and diversity of the districts to bring out the credibility needed for this city. This realism was already present on multiple game elements, but it will have to rise in detail to the rank of the current standards, at least as far as possible when it comes to a remake that does probably has not had time to complete a certain to develop Final Fantasy VII Remake, to name a few.
With regard to a few visuals, there is no doubt that the characters will also be reworked, in more detail, shortening the rigidity of the expressions imposed by the gaming technology of the time. On the side of history, today it seems delicate to imagine a rework or extension of the story, the Mafia scenario in itself is enough and not suffer from large ellipses or cavities that prevent an understanding of its problems. And yet it is clear in this way that Deck 13 has taken over the reins of the saga Mafia 3, wants to orientate. An elaborate story certainly doesn’t mean the story will be reworked, we hope the expansions announced won’t be a pretext for spreading a perfectly rhythmic plot at the time.
Do not give in to the sirens of the open-world today
With an extension of the story and the second life of Lost Heaven, the temptation to allow Mafia to yield to the open-world sirens in the sense we hear today might be tempting, but it’s a safe bet that the developers will not reproduce the mistakes made after the new opening of the saga started by Mafia III. What makes the franchise’s strength, and the plot of the latter part as a cut scene, did not contradict this observation and also showed some respect for the Mafia’s DNA, it is the screenplay, character development and atmosphere of rivalry and family feeling that floats over any genre work.
Like today open worlds are used as a pretext for multiple quests and activities and that it has never really been the norm to have an open world without exploiting it, except as a simple setting (mafia 1 & 2 or The black are rare examples), it would be necessary to keep the “corridor” aspect, it is not an insult to the original game. But the question that arises is to know whether, for a player discovering the universe of the game, the presence of an open world with no secondary missions or secondary activities and often superfluous seems nothing anachronistic.
If the appearance didn’t necessarily make it appear at the time, Mafia game was primarily a story game before it was a gameplay game and control over the rhythm of the plot is crucial for both fans and new audiences alike can find all that has the charm of created the title 18 years ago. The open-world is just one element intended to promote immersion and clearly not blow up the life of the game, as was particularly the case with the repetitive activities imposed in the different districts of Mafia III, which broke its rhythm of a story worth the detour.
Gameplay needs to be thoroughly revised
But of course, Mafia was far from a walking simulation, besides the strong emphasis on the script, also an action game. This is probably where different schools could compete on the vision we might have of the gameplay redesign. First, and an essential part of the saga, driving can be a tough question for developers. 1930s vehicles are heavy, slow, and difficult to handle. This bias, which showed a certain desire for realism from the original episode, a realism that was also found in many details of the game (fuel management, sometimes painful speed limits, etc.) turns out to be quite paralyzing in 2020.
Vehicle physics, which is not always credible, will need to take advantage of a few adjustments, as the wanderings that were perfectly acceptable almost twenty years ago would be much less today. The journeys from one point to the other were sometimes particularly long, and the speed limit, without the respect of which the police had fined you, was a sword of Damocles, sometimes more painful than dragging hovering above the player. And if you weren’t in control of a vehicle that seemed to weigh several tons and had difficulty maneuvering corners, the fastest vehicles could also be treacherous.
We remind you of the fond memory of this mission in which you were asked to win a car race, discouraging more than one player from continuing the game, and the entire loop was based on behavior that was unsatisfactory throughout the game. Finding the right compromise between respecting the credibility sought at the time and the need not to frustrate the players by making it more fluid and enjoyable is not that easy as this is a whole part of the game that needs updating than that of collecting under one flag from the purists of the original game as the new audience.
Other adjustments are also welcome. Combat, whether melee or gun, lacked precision at the time, no functional coverage system was introduced into the game, ammunition was scarce, and your hero’s vulnerability was sometimes punitive. Even then, the original game didn’t shine due to the gameplay intelligence, did just what it was asked to do, but in the end, it didn’t stop the game from gaining cult status among those who tried it for sure.
However, to freshen up a 20-year title, a whole chunk of the gunplay would have to be reconsidered and a remake would have to decide again between respect for the original work and modernity. Also, the artificial intelligence of opponents would seem rather pale today, despite the minimum expected from a production of the type. If AI is still a delicate subject to develop, that of Mafia III, much more recently, was also regularly criticized just 4 years ago, needless to say, wearing that from the original episode without it would be a huge blow are to renew the ability to join a new audience.
The remake exercise is quite delicate and it is difficult to develop only one part. Taking the example of Shadow of the Colossus’ excellent redesign, the game hasn’t changed except for its visuals, but it becomes breathtaking, hard to speak of a remake itself. But the original game, with the exception of a handful of camera issues, was aged only aesthetically, and the player who could overcome this aging could still be largely borne by the atmosphere of Fumeto Ueda’s title.
Final Fantasy VII Remake of Resident Evil 2 (2019) are more examples when it comes to showing that we can respect the content of a game while drastically modernizing its form, including gameplay. The case of Mafia is special. As it stands, the 2002 episode seems more than ever to be the fruit of the productions of its time, the title, like many others, is certainly not timeless and has undoubtedly suffered from the weight of the years. Many players have broken their teeth on their stiffness by trying to relieve the franchise, the mafia return can’t be done decently by a simple graphical overhaul.
Taken separately, and apart from its history, the various components of the original game had no revolutionary character and, still through this dissected observation of each of its mechanics today, difficult even when it placed itself in the context of 2002, understand why the mistakes or lack of ambition of certain mafia biases in the gameplay did not prevent the title from reaching the rank of essential.
The answer is simple: the Mafia game was stronger and more interesting than the sum of its parts. The artificial intelligence, the battles, the progression, the certain slowness of the whole are not mistakes in themselves, they are simply in accordance with what it was generally possible at the time, and in spite of the real concerns, the title as a whole was devilish and gripping. But it is in the modernization of the many elements worthy of being corrected and thoroughly reworked that all efforts must be localized, the story, it, the characters like the gears of the plot, then, if the overhaul is well thought out, retains all its flavor and mafia could then attract a whole new audience.