Mafia 1 is a fondly remembered game even to this day. While we’re wallowing in the era of massive maps and endless activities, it’s nice to go back to a simpler time when open-world action games just needed an engaging story to keep us entertained. Mafia: Definitive Edition looks like a complete overhaul of the now 18 year old original. It’s actually much closer to the first game than you think — in fact, it’s almost identical.
But it isn’t completely identical. There are some huge changes to the game, and then some very subtle ones. The first change is obvious — the entire game has been built from the ground-up in a modern engine, making the city of Lost Heaven seem more real than ever before. The other changes are easier to miss, but if you’re a fan of the original game and want to know how these two games differ (and they do, slightly) then we’ll cover everything we’ve noticed so far.
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#1: The Graphics Engine
It’s been 18 years, so there’s really no way to upscale the graphics from 2002 for a modern game console or PC system. Instead, Hangar 13 rebuilt the game from scratch. Everything is exactly like it was, down to this weird Easter egg in the brothel mission.
Well, not everything (as we’ll get into below) — but it’s ridiculously close. So close you might not even notice. The general layout of the city is the same, as are the weapons, vehicles you’ll find, and mission structure. This is classic Mafia through-and-through.
#2: Cover, Melee Combat & Sneaking
Gun handling is wildly different this time around. It’s more similar to Mafia 3 than the original — you can take cover and pop-out to shoot enemies like Mafia 2. On Classic difficulty, you can still get killed by a single bad guy with a Tommy Gun, and you’ll lose any bullets in your magazine when reloading just like the original.
- Your weapons can be selected from a wheel, and you can hold one of each type — a handgun, long gun, melee weapon, or throwable.
Melee combat also got a big upgrade. Now you can perform counters when an enemy is about to attack. It isn’t the wild flaming of the original game. There are finishing moves when enemies are almost down.
And there is a fully-fledged sneaking system. You can crouch, and perform stealth kills (or knockouts) when behind an unaware enemy. You can even move bodies to avoid being spotted!
Enemy AI has been completely reworked, so they will take cover, throw molotov cocktails, and detect dead bodies while patrolling.
#3: Health Regen & Classic Difficulty
Health regeneration is a modern convenience, and you’ll find this mechanic in all difficulty levels. Yes, even in Classic Mode. On Classic Mode, you’ll recover about 10% of your health meter if you hide.
It doesn’t fully recover, and it takes a little bit of time, but that 10% is pretty much required if you’re trying to play on Classic. Due to many other changes to how the game works, the game is actually much harder on Classic difficulty.
The extra checkpoints are nice, though.
#4: Missions Have Been Altered For A Little More Variety
The missions are story beats are almost identical — most of the dialogue is exactly the same (but with a different cast, we’ll get into that later) — and yet there are still changes to the general mission structure. Some missions have been lengthened, while others are prettied-up versions that are exactly the same.
Here’s one big spoiler-y example. On a mission where you’re ambushed by cops at a farm, you’ll have to fight back waves of enemies instead of slowly fighting through the area. That’s only a small change, but during the escape you’ll have to shoot-it-out with a huge armored police vehicle. That’s totally new, and there are many other small changes to the missions like this.
Find more changes — including Easter eggs and end-game spoilers — on the next page!