Mafia: Definitive Edition’s release date is fast approaching, and fans are no doubt itching to get their hands on the revamped game, which adds a new lick of paint to the 2002 original. Some fans, however, have been wondering how much or little of the game will be changed for the remaster. In a new interview, Hangar 13 tells us just that.
“Largely we wanted to keep the story the same,” Devin Hitch, the studio’s lead producer, explains. “We have all of the same missions; all of the major mission beats that occur are in there, the missions in the original are back. The area where we wanted to introduce some new things and where we really had to figure out where the balance was with some of the new gameplay features.
“The original 2002 Mafia is third-person shooter but it plays very much like a first-person shooter, where you’re strafing to take cover, things like that. One of the things that we had to look at was, ‘How did we want to take the more modern cover shooter mechanics that we developed in Mafia III and augment those to support the story and the type of combat that we wanted in Mafia I?’
“That’s a good example where we dialled back the frenetic combat in Mafia III to be more representative of combat between the Salieri and the Morello gang, or between police officers and Tommy [Angelo, the game’s protagonist].
“We did also work on the driving model. We really had to strike a balance between the original Mafia, which had some very slow vehicles, was very realistic, and you could even turn on some simulation things like how much gas you had in your tank. We had to find that balance of how true to the actual car speeds of the time that we actually want to go versus having more exciting, arcade-y combat closer to Mafia III.
“But we wanted to balance that with fans of the original who really enjoyed that simulation. We have a simulation driving mode. We have a simulation police mode – they’ll ticket you for small infractions like they did in the original. You can turn on manual shifting – all these things where we tried to balance what we had done with what fans of the original who enjoyed some of those simulation aspects of the original game would appreciate.
“In terms of developing the city, we knew we really wanted to have all of the neighbourhoods, all of the very distinct landmarks. Whether it’s the Giuliano bridge, or the main church in downtown, you’ll see all of those things returning.
“In terms of the city layout, we wanted to change it to be more drivable, so we didn’t feel burdened by taking a top-down view of the original game’s city and trying to recreate that block-for-block. We really tried to lean more towards being true to the original when it came to the story and cinematics, the gameplay beats, all that stuff.”
So some new stuff, and some stuff staying the same, then. However, new technologies have allowed the team to achieve some subtle things that weren’t possible in 2002.
“One of the things that I think we’re really excited about was [to be able to] re-do all the cinematics,” he says. “A lot of things come through in Tommy’s performance that are more subtle [and] allow us to communicate more about his character.
“One of the areas we did expand on, though, is filling in some additional details around the other cast of characters around Tommy. For example, his girlfriend and ultimately wife, Sarah, in the original game, is fairly two dimensional. She’s kind of hanging out at the bar, she’s Luigi the grizzled bartender’s daughter, and so she has a reason to be there, but you don’t really understand what her motivations are.
“We’ve expanded Sarah as a character. She has more scenes, more dialogue. You get to understand more about her and Tommy’s early relationship, you get to see them flirting a little. You also get to see how she reacts to Tommy’s trajectory of going from kind of a happy-go-lucky cab driver to a made man who’s kind of in over his head at the very end of the game.
“We’ve tried to do that, too, with some of the other characters – paint some ambiguity in their motivations. We’ve added some more light-hearted, colourful moments to the game. For example, Vicenzo was a fairly serious character in the original, and in the Definitive Edition he’s a kind of point of comic relief, just a super likeable tough guy. He’s the type of guy that I would like to go have a beer with and listen to stories about, and he doesn’t come off that way quite as much in the original.
Mafia: Definitive Edition launches for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 25.