Mafia: Definitive Edition (PS4)

There’s nothing revolutionary in Mafia’s organized crime story. The cliches and drama all play to form, but Mafia does allow an exploration of America’s depression era, including the desperation and sheer naivety of alcohol prohibition. It’s not that Mafia allows players to gun down cops en masse with a machine gun (many games do), so much as they’re doing so for the right to drink Bud Light – and the authorities willingly die to prevent a sip. Then consider decades of marijuana convictions; times rarely change.

Coming out now, broadly updated, Mafia exposes the inanity and wastefulness in most modern designs. Offering an option to skip long, aimless driving trims the fat, leading a lean crime story about a protagonist drawn into crime to ease out of the ’30s financial crisis, bouncing around broken morality surrounding murder, and then seeking an out. Formulaic, but lean. Character moments feel earnest, and structure makes jumping years of story events (focusing instead on critical moments over the decade) organic. The pedestrian shooting of things dries out the entertainment value, even if the Hollywood stylization keeps momentum.


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