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Is Mafia Definitive Edition worth it?

Having played Mafia 1 back in 2002 and being one of my favourite games of all time, it was a no brainer to pick up the Mafia: Definitive Edition on release. If you were fortunate enough to have played the original Mafia 1, you know where your love for open world action adventure games come from. With the new flashy definitive edition on our doorstep, the question remains; is the Mafia Definitive Edition worth playing?

To answer this question, we will look at some details about Mafia 1 and how those held up with the 2020 release of the Mafia Definitive Edition.

Mafia Definitive Edition city

Law and Order how we remember it

The first thing that came to mind when thinking back to Mafia 1 was the police and how relentless they were. It almost felt like a simulation when driving through Lost Heaven. From cops wandering the streets on foot to keep the peace to squad cars making their rounds, you felt like you really had to watch your step. Cops in Mafia 1 kept you in check by enforcing basic traffic rules like not running over red lights or exceeding the area’s speed limit. This might sound clunky, but it gave the game so much charm. 

Combat like we remember it

Combat in Mafia 1 was brutal, putting it lightly. Every gunfight felt like a life or death situation as it should be. When four mobsters attack you, you knew you had to play it smart or you will sleep with the fishes. You couldn’t carry an entire army’s arsenal with you into every mission, so you had to choose your favourite primary and secondary weapons. The enemies felt challenging and to add to the realism, the recoil of your weapons felt on point. There were no cover systems in mafia so you had to rely on taking cover behind vehicles and well, anything close by to not get shot during a gunfight.

Characters as we remember them

Mafia 1’s characters were iconic. Once you spent some time in the game, it truly felt like you were part of a family of gangsters. Every character had their own personality and agenda, making the interactions unique and fresh.

Driving as we remember it

Coming straight from GTA 3’s fast-paced arcade-like driving in 2001, Mafia 1’s driving had a different noticeable pace to it. It was slower and, as we mentioned earlier, more of a simulation. Once you got used to the pace, you did not really want to crash because the cars in the 1930s did not have acceleration speeds that we’re used to in most other games.

This made for a more serious driving experience, trying not to break the traffic laws as you go from mission to mission. We always preferred using the manual transmission, giving you that extra level of control over your vehicle and damn it felt good.

Mafia Definitive Edition the infamous race

Vehicle damage as we remember it

This was one of my favourite damage systems in any open world action adventure games, especially considering that Mafia 1 released in 2002. I distinctly remember how you could go to town on a vehicle with a bat and see every scratch and bend that you made. It felt extremely satisfying to damage vehicles, after all you are a gangster and busting up wise guy’s cars is mandatory.

Another thing that stood out to me was that you could shoot wheels off of cars, leaving a three wheeled disabled vehicle in your wake. The last detail which I loved was the fuel management in Mafia 1. You could shoot a vehicle’s tank and the fuel will drain as you continue to drive with it until the tank was empty and time to look for a new vehicle. 

Free ride as we remember it

After we finished the exhilarating campaign, we spent hours upon hours in Mafia 1’s free ride mode. You had free ride and free ride extreme to choose from. Free ride extreme being a mode where you had 19 missions to unlock 19 additional vehicles. While free ride was more of a sandbox mode for you to explore Lost Heaven at your own pace without missions interrupting anything. We always made up our own agendas when playing the free ride mode, making a decent income with taxi fares and having a blast exploring the city of lost heaven.

Loading screens as we remember them

When you play Mafia 1 for the first time, you cannot help but notice how detailed and distinct the mission’s loading screens were. Every loading screen’s image captured the essence of the mission perfect and every loading screen was wallpaper worthy.

Mafia Definitive Edition loading screen

Law and Order in Mafia Definitive Edition

When you play on the classic mode in the definitive edition, it is the closest you will get to the original Mafia 1 experience. In classic mode cops will not stand for any crimes, even near missing pedestrians will cause the cops to hunt you down. I will however mention that it feels too easy to shake the cops in the definitive edition. All in all, you can expect the same law system that you were used to in Mafia 1.

Combat in Mafia Definitive Edition

The combat still feels extremely solid and with the definitive they introduced a cover system which you will be familiar with if you played any action adventure game in the last 10 years. You will still die from taking a couple of shots, maintaining that authentic hardcore experience. You can expect the same mobster arsenal, but with a twist, they added golden gun variations of most of the guns to make you feel like a baller.

With new tech comes new opportunities, cover is now destructible and makes combat so much more engaging and epic. One last thing we have to mention is the great animations that they added as finishers when you get up close and personal with your enemies.

Mafia Definitive Edition is it worth it?

Characters in Mafia Definitive Edition

You get to meet all the characters you grew to love and know in Mafia 1 in more detail with the definitive edition. At first I felt Don looked a lot younger than what I remember in Mafia 1, and Paulie didn’t quite hit the mark in terms of his demeanor. As I played the definitive edition, I soon came to realise that their new looks fit perfectly with the style of the definitive edition.

Driving in Mafia Definitive Edition

This was something that, to me, had to be done right to make the definitive edition a success. And that is exactly what they did. The driving feels amazing. We cannot be happier to see that they kept the choice between automatic and manual transmission in the game. They kept the vehicle speeds relative to the 1930s, not making every car’s 0-60 sub four seconds.

The driving still feels like a simulation, forcing you to shift to first gear after you had a crash that made you lose all your speed. When it rains, the roads feel extremely slippery and given the technology in the vehicles of that era; I think it is safe to say that it might have been unsafe to drive in heavy rain conditions. It is also worth mentioning that they added a motorcycle to the game and we love taking the motorcycle into the country side for a Sunday cruise.

You will be glad to know that the driving is solid, otherwise the infamous race would have been even more difficult. Experiencing that race in the Mafia Definitive Edition is worth it!

Mafia Definitive Edition motorcycle

Vehicle damage in Mafia Definitive Edition

This is where I feel that the definitive edition did not quite hit the mark. Yes, the damage looks amazing, but I always find it odd that certain parts of the vehicle become damaged when you are not deliberately focusing your wrecking efforts on that area. This was clear in one of the first missions where you and Paulie had to bust up some rival vehicles. It does not seem that you can break the wheels off cars anymore, which was one of my favourite features in Mafia 1. The damage system is not bad, it’s just not what I expected.

Free Ride in Mafia Definitive Edition

You no longer have to separate modes of free ride, they combined both into one. You can now explore Lost Heaven at your own pace and when you feel you need a purpose, you can look for missions to unlock some special vehicles.

Mission loading screens in Mafia Definitive Edition

Unfortunately, they did not keep the iconic loading screen images used in Mafia 1. Instead, you are greeted with a rather generic naming of the mission you are about to embark on. While this is not game changing it was certainly one of the more nostalgic value items on our list.


With these comparisons between Mafia 1 and Mafia definitive edition in mind, we can conclude our question of, is Mafia definitive edition worth it? Our answer is yes Mafia definitive edition is definitely worth your time and money. It was great to see a definitive edition where they remade the old content and even added some new content while maintaining the fundamentals that made the original version such a hit among gamers.