Mafia: Definitive Edition was supposed to be released on August 28, but due to the corona pandemic, the remake of the action classic was postponed to September 25. We spoke to Alex Cox, the Associate Game Director, about the difficulties of completing the title, necessary changes to the game, the infamous racing mission, the PC implementation, the lessons learned from the release of Mafia 3 and many other things at hangar 13.
PC Games: What is the biggest challenge for you to develop a remake of Mafia?
Alex Cox: Mafia is so well remembered by so many people that it was particularly difficult for us to find the right balance. Connoisseurs of the original should get "their" game back, but in modern graphics. At the same time, of course, we had to make adjustments in some processes and gameplay mechanics so that Mafia: Definitive Edition also plays like a game from 2020. Those who were too young at the time or maybe not yet born or had missed the original for other reasons , the game should now be able to catch up without having to bother with mechanics that are now outdated. With the Definitive Edition, we want to be as close to the original as possible, but at the same time, our remake should also offer the comfort you are used to from modern games. I think we managed that really well. A little anecdote: Because of the corona pandemic, we were able to hold far fewer focus tests than is normally the case. The tests that we were able to hold were mainly in the Czech Republic, where the first mafia is almost a sacred game. The feedback from the Mafia fans from there was extremely positive.
PCG: Speaking of which we are in the Czech Republic, how many people from the original development team actually work on the remake at Hangar 13?
Source: 2K Games
AC: I don't know that exactly from my head right now, but it should be about ten people. That's actually a lot, considering how small the team that developed the original was. These primeval rocks hold very different positions with us. One is a lead engineer, a lead character artist, a director of cinematography, as an example. We are happy to have them on board because they can of course do even more to help set the right tone in the Definitive Edition. In general we have a wonderful mix of all mafia titles in the team. We have people who were already working on the first mafia, others are responsible for Mafia 2 and still others only started with Mafia 3. I myself worked on Mafia 2 and 3.
PCG: You mentioned earlier that you had to change a few things to make Mafia: Definitive Edition a modern game – what exactly do you mean? Can you give us a few examples of exactly what you changed?
AC: Well, as I said, we want to stay as close to the original as possible, so we only adjusted things that were really necessary so that the game didn't look like it was out of time. Our engine, which we have developed since Mafia 3, naturally serves as the basis for the implementation of the remake. Of course, this not only means better, modern graphics for the mafia, but also things like more passers-by, greater traffic density on the streets, improved AI of the NPCs and so on. In addition, action passages have naturally evolved since the release of the original. The old mafia was more of a run-and-gun third-person shooter, but that wouldn't really fit today. Therefore, we use a modern cover shooter mechanism as in Mafia 3. In addition, we have modernized the rudimentary melee system from the original Mafia. Melee battles now play similarly to Mafia 3 and can be used more specifically than in the original. We didn't fiddle around with the mission processes or the story. If an action scene came in one place in the original, it also comes in the Definitive Edition. If a driving mission came in the original, it also comes at the point in the remake.
PCG: Now that we're driving, of course, I have to ask about the notorious racing mission, which gave a lot of gray hair to a lot of players at the time. How did you customize this mission?
Source: 2K Games
AC: Oh yes, this mission! Back then I needed at least 20 attempts to get it done. So I know exactly what you mean. We don't want to be responsible for gray hair this time, but again, we want to be close to the original. Hardcore fans can therefore choose classic mode. All other players can choose between different levels of difficulty from very easy to very difficult before the start of the race. We know that not all players in an action game like to play racing games. That's why we don't want to overwhelm anyone. Everyone should be able to progress. We also reduced the number of laps from five in the original to three in the remake. If you still fail, you will even have the opportunity to skip the race after several failed attempts. But we also came up with a few other ideas for this mission so that it no longer looks like a break in the game. Characters also talk about the big race coming soon, there are more spectators on the course, the presentation is a bit more spectacular because we scripted the race and there is a big party after the race. The mission is the same as in the original, but with modern comfort and contemporary presentation with optimizations regarding the atmosphere.
PCG: Although Mafia had an open game world, it was a very linear game. Are you trying to use the game world better now? Did you add side missions or activities?
AC: No, we don't, because we just want to stay close to the original and want to renew its gaming experience. Of course we thought about adding more typical open world elements, but during the development we had to work on it and compromise again and again because we realized that it just wasn't the tone of the game, which is the tone of the game Originals should fit. We then decided to omit these things and instead focus on how we can really upgrade Mafia without losing the essence of the game. We therefore opted for subtle optimizations. As an example, I would like to mention the character Sarah (editor's note: Mafia protagonist Tommy Angelo). At one point in the story, she is the main motivation for Tommy to act, but she has hardly appeared in the game before, so that as a player you had no emotional connection to her. So we've added a few scenes with Sarah. Don't worry, she won't be running a shotgun in action scenes all at once, but she'll get more appearances. So you can see her in the background and Tommy drives home after missions, where he is greeted by Sarah and talks to her about the day. Sarah is just an example here, but we have implemented this approach for many characters. Instead of side missions that don't really fit, we opted for more character development.
PCG: You are bringing the game to the end of a generation of consoles, so can we expect there to be an improved version of Mafia: Definitive Edition for PS5 and Xbox Series X?
AC: We haven't decided that yet. At the moment we are only concentrating on the completion of the games for the confirmed platforms PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Source: 2K Games
PCG: You said earlier that you have further developed your engine since the release of Mafia 3. What technical improvements can we look forward to?
AC: We have improved some mechanics, but the biggest improvement is definitely our completely new lighting system.
PCG: I read a lot of user comments after the announcement of Mafia: Definitive Edition and I have the feeling that many players are very happy to get a remake of this classic, but are also very skeptical because Mafia 3 is massive technical Had problems. Can you assure us that you have learned from the mistakes of Mafia 3 and that the Definitive Edition is technically clean on the market?
AC: We are doing our very best to make the Definitive Edition a worthy remake. I guarantee that the game will be launched on all platforms in great technical condition. I can tell you that we weren't satisfied with Mafia 3 either. The problems with the PC version in particular hurt our hearts. We therefore paid particular attention to the implementation for the PC in the development of Mafia: Definitive Edition.
PCG: Thank you for the interview!
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Mafia: Definitive Edition – Release date postponed
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