Mafia: Definitive Edition

Much to my surprise, Mafia: Definitive Edition ended up being one of the better games I played in 2020, the year of COVID-19. It is, in fact, — wait, let me double-check this — yes, it is, in fact, the only game I finished this year.

I enjoyed the original Mafia well enough back in 2002. Although I was looking forward to the release of the 2020 remaster, after the less-than-stellar Mafia II: Definitive Edition, which (oddly) preceded it, I was sort of up in the air on whether or not the original’s remaster would be worth the effort. Thankfully, it was and then some.

The biggest surprise, and perhaps the most bittersweet alteration of the Definitive Edition, is that the new version retcons the final moments before the credits roll.

Needless to say, there will be some major spoilers if you continue reading this article, so proceed with caution if you have yet to finish Mafia: Definitive Edition.

In the original Mafia, after Tommy spills his guts to Detective Norman, kills his longtime-partner-and-sort-of-friend Sam, and does a stint behind bars, he gets out and grows old as a typical suburban family man. Eventually, the past catches up to Tommy in the form of two random goons who show up to scatter his guts all over his perfectly manicured lawn. It’s a tragic, if not fitting, end to his rise and fall as a Mafioso.

Mr. Salieri sends his regards, indeed.

Fast forward to 2010 when Mafia II was released. In a nice wink to the original, the developers of Mafia II retconned the original ending of 2002’s Mafia by adding a mission in which the main protagonist of Mafia II, Vito Scaletta, and his goon friend Joe are tasked with finding and silencing Tommy Angelo, the protagonist of the original Mafia.

This was absolutely brilliant. What better way to tie a series together — a series based on the cutthroat Mafiosi lifestyle, where loyalty is king and loyalists are ever-shifting pawns — than to insert Vito into the demise of Tommy? The developers even managed to recreate the scene faithfully to the direction and blocking of the original, aside from adding Vito and Joe and altering their clothes a bit.

It was a nice way to both pay homage and call back to the original game, but also to tie the series together in a smart and natural way. This would be something that the much-maligned (although perfectly serviceable) Mafia III would attempt by allowing its litterbug protagonist, Lincoln Clay, to recruit Vito from Mafia II into his criminal organization. This really didn’t amount to much, though it was nice to see that Vito made it to an older age, even if he could never quite walk away from the life.

But now we jump forward (or just back) to Mafia Definitive Edition, and it all comes full circle. This is, of course, the magic of hindsight, but also a reinforcement that the Mafia II retcon was a smart choice that just made sense. Once you complete the final chapter of Mafia Definitive Edition, kill Sam, do a stretch in the clink, and get your lawn game on, we are now treated to Vito and Joe pulling up, much as they did in Mafia II, to give Tommy Mr. Salieri’s regards.

Pura perfezione!

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