Mafia Definitive Edition (reviewed on PC)

Re-posted courtesy of Koru-Cottage.com, which I originally wrote this review for.

With the release of Mafia Definitive Edition last month, 2K’s Mafia trilogy is now complete. When I reviewed Mafia 2 in August this year, I ended my review (based mainly on the lacklustre Mafia 2 remaster) by saying: “I can’t recommend this package right now, especially given it’s incomplete until Mafia is released in August.”

Mafia Definitive Edition

Well, now that I have finished Mafia Definitive Edition, my verdict is easy: It’s definitely worth your time. Especially with the love that has been lavished in updating the original Mafia for today’s modern gamer, a game that tells the rise [then fall] of Lost Heaven (New York) taxi driver Tommy Angelo through the ranks of a feared crime family during the 1930s.

The original Mafia was released on PC in 2002 – I still own the original but since deciding to forgo a disc drive in my PC I can no longer play it. It was a great game, despite having a few frustrating missions: the infamous race car one being the main culprit.

The graphical overhaul is the most obvious change to Mafia here and the game play/mission structure has stayed the same. Mafia comes from an age when games were linear, story-driven experiences and not open world. Mafia Definitive Edition sticks to tight mission structure of the original and is so well crafted that I didn’t find playing it a chore (apart from the occasional frustrating “lose the cop” missions which crop up from time to time where it seems every police officer in the city is chasing after you).

Mafia Definitive Edition

Mafia Definitive Edition has highlighted how tightly paced the narrative was in the original game. It doesn’t distract you with a multitude of side missions: It’s story driven and unapologetic about that. This remaster also has great voice acting and a likeable main character in Tommy Angelo, even if he is a gangster doing questionable moral things.

The city of Lost Heaven feels like it’s built on a living, breathing city, too. While it’s sparse compared to open-worlds of today, it has little touches that make it feel grounded: Pedestrians yelling abuse if you drive too close, cops that will pull you over and write you a ticket for an infringement. Cars and trucks will flash their headlights if you pass just a little too close to them, your car’s radio reception breaking up as you drive through a tunnel, tail lights reflect on wet roads. Top it off with a wonderful 1930s soundtrack and you’ve got a winner written all over it in my book.

Like the previous two games included in this collection – Mafia 2 and 3 – I played Mafia Definitive Edition on PC and it frankly looks gorgeous, with highly detailed car and character models, and a much more detailed Lost Heaven than the original, especially at night when it’s undeniably beautiful as you drive around the city with neon signs reflecting off the rain-soaked streets and car tail lights glowing in the dim light.

Mafia Definitive Edition

I’m no technical genius but it seems developers Hanger 13 are using some form of software based ray tracing here that looks so good that several times I just stopped mid-drive to just soak in the surroundings. 2K recommends a Core i7-3770 or AMD FX-8350, 8Gb RAM,  and an nVidia GeForce GTX 780 or AMD Radeon R9 290X. My i5 8400, 16Gb PNY XLR8 RAM and RX580 GPU handled things just fine, pushing out frame rates between 55 to 60 using the game’s high graphical settings (averaging around 56FPS).

Cut scenes, too, seemed locked at around 60FPS but I did notice drops into the mid-40s when driving through open countryside. It was certainly pushing the RX580 to its limit, that’s for sure, with temperatures sitting around the 70deg mark and it wasn’t uncommon for it to be sitting at 100% utilisation. An update seemed to lift frame rates to the high 60s – even 70s – at some points.

Mafia Definitive Edition

You’ve probably guessed by now that I loved Mafia Definitive Edition, but it’s buggy at times. One character model was missing entirely from a cutscene while the dialogue continued and the “lose the cops” missions are frustrating as hell. In the game’s favour, the infamous car race seemed more forgiving this time than when I played it on the original. Sure, the other drivers are still aggressive but I managed to win it on my second attempt.  

A new patch also lets you minimise HUD elements, which is particularly welcome when using free ride mode. Also, the game has a great free ride mode that’s unlocked after you’ve completed a particular mission meaning you can explore the city of Lost Heaven in any vehicle you’ve unlocked: It’s a good way to visit parts of the city that you don’t during some of the story drive missions.  

Mafia Definitive Edition is a remaster that has been lavished with love by developer Hanger 13. Now, all I need is someone to remaster EA’s The Godfather or Scarface on the PlayStation 2 and I’ll be happy as Larry.

Tripping the light fantastic

Smart lighting industry leader Nanoleaf has announced the launch of Shapes Triangles and Mini Triangles, the latest addition to the company’s Shapes line. 

The newest innovation from Nanoleaf features shape interoperability with Nanoleaf’s exclusive Connect+ technology, allowing users to connect different lighting shapes together, along with Hexagons, for the first time ever. 

“Nanoleaf’s vision for the Shapes Line is to give users the complete design freedom to create their most personal lighting experience yet. Smart lighting is about pushing the boundaries of possibility and that is exactly what we wanted to offer with our Shapes Line,” says Gimmy Chu, CEO and co-founder of Nanoleaf. 

Users will now have the modular freedom to create something simple by connecting multiples of one shape, or mix and match different shapes in new ways to create unique lighting mosaics. 

The Shapes line also has an improved snap-on mounting system for easier installation and redesign options. With Nanoleaf’s exclusive LayoutDetect Technology and over 16 million colours to choose from, users can paint their homes with organic colourways inspired by beautiful scenes of nature like the Aurora Borealis and brilliant blues of the Mediterranean sea.

Shapes Triangles and Mini Triangles have all of Nanoleaf’s classic features, including Screen Mirror, Rhythm Music Sync and touch-enabled experiences that allow you to transform your space with one single touch. The panels are wifi-controlled with the Nanoleaf App, manually with the physical controller and are also compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings.

True to the company’s commitment to make ease of use a top priority, the latest addition to the Shapes line will also include an update to Nanoleaf’s signature app. A new colour picker will help take the RGB experience to the next level and the new redesign will be much more intuitive, enabling users to perform any action without barriers.

Nanoleaf Shapes Line Triangles and Mini Triangles will be available to pre-order from today at Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming, JB Hifi, MightyApe and PB Tech. Kits will range from RRP $119.99 – $349.99.

Look out for a review of Nanoleaf’s Shapes on the site very soon.

Pick Up Quick! Developer interview: Tackling litter one piece at a time on the PlayStation

Pick Up Quick! features Tahunanui Beach in Nelson.

Those of you that have combed through the vast amount of user-generated content in PlayStation’s Dreams may have come across Pick Up Quick!, a game launched by Sustainable Coastlines and designed to tackle the problem of litter on New Zealand beaches and encourage players to combat the issue in real life.

Tokahaki Point on Kapiti Island and Tāhunanui Beach in Nelson were recreated in Dreams by North Canterbury school administrator Stacey Bartlett [25] and is one of first partnerships of its kind with British-based Dreams creator Media Molecule.

The aim of Pick Up Quick! is to hunt and collect as much discarded rubbish as you can within a 45 second time limit then the game compares what you collected with data gathered from real-life rubbish collection from the beaches. By mid-September, it had been played more than 3000 times in more than 50 countries, including the United States, Spain, Scotland, Canada and Singapore.

Studio director at Media Molecule Siobhan Reddy says what Stacey had achieved with Dreams was incredible. “She’s a talented creator. We’ve seen some pretty wonderful creations within Dreams and this is right up there. The community aspect of gameplay that encourages education and understanding is really impressive.”

How much litter you pick up in 45 seconds is compared to real-time collection data.

“We’ve featured it [Pick Up Quick!] on the global Dreams homepage; it shows what’s possible so we’re hoping it encourages people to get creative as well as think about their environmental impact – wherever they are.”

Thanks to PlayStation NZ, I got the chance to talk to Stacey about making the game and to Camden Howitt, co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines and the Litter Intelligence programme.

Stacey, how did you become involved in the project? Had you had any experience with Dreams – or any modeling software or game creation tools – before starting this project? 

Pick Up Quick! creator Stacey Bartlett used Dreams on the PlayStation 4 to create the game.

I was approached by PlayStation New Zealand to create Pick Up Quick!, as they were looking for a New Zealand Dreams creator and Media Molecule recommended me based on my previous Dreams work.  I have always enjoyed creating things, although I didn’t have much game development experience until Dreams was released. I was able to partake in the Dreams beta and early access, and I learned a lot about creating games in that time. 

How did the design process for the game work? Did you brainstorm about what you wanted, or did it develop fairly naturally?

I was given a brief for the game, and from there I created a design document, as well as some rough concept sketches for how I wanted the game to look. I relied on my plan a lot – I find it easier to write things down first and work from there rather than make things up as I go.

I played the Tahunanui Beach level and I recognised the distinctive seawall straight away. How easy was it to craft the real-world beaches into the game – and how long did it take until you were happy with it?

Tahunanui Beach was fun to create, as I was able to use Google Maps extensively as a reference to cover all the different angles. The challenge came in the nit-picky things – for example the waves. I spent a lot of time tweaking the animation to get it just right! I can’t say for sure how long they took me to create as it’s a bit of a blur now, but it was a fair few hours. 

How cool was it to have input from Dreams creator Media Molecule and for them to feature it on their Dreams homepage?

Very cool! I admire Media Molecule a lot, and to see them featuring something I made is quite surreal!

Camden, tell me about how this collaboration first came about? How did Media Molecule become involved?

We worked with PlayStation’s help to get the game off the ground. After approaching Stacey, our incredible creator who was super on board with the concept, PlayStation assisted in the coordination of Media Molecule who helped Stacey along the way with any design questions she had. It’s been such an exciting project for everyone, to have international support for our cause from the likes of Media Molecule was fantastic.

What’s the main aim with Pick Up Quick: What do you hope it will achieve? And are you confident that people will become more litter-aware on our beaches after playing the game or that young players will help their parents become more aware of litter on beaches?
We want to help young people to look at the issue in their area, and solve it. Us New Zealanders love our beaches but we’re a bit disconnected in some ways from the fact that we are polluting them. The aim here is to inform young players around what the issues are on our beaches. Despite our “clean and green” image, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

Pick Up Quick! is available through Dreams on the PlayStation 4.

Pick Up Quick! in action. This is Nelson’s Tahunanui Beach.