One look at Mafia: Definitive Edition is all you need to appreciate just how incredibly far gaming graphics have come since Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven launched in 2002. But for all the visual improvements packed into this extensive remake, it's critical that the completely overhauled presentation still captures the 1930s atmosphere and authenticity of the original.
"We're keenly aware of how the original Mafia is perceived by the fans, and we very much honor its legacy," says Petr Motejzik, Art Director at Hangar 13 who's based in the Czech Republic. "That's why it was a priority for us to keep the maximum number of elements from the original game, and to improve and develop them further."
Before endeavoring to create in-game assets, the team at Hangar 13 zeroed in on the essence of the original Mafia through new concept art and mood pieces, from iconic characters and locations to some of the biggest missions and moments in Tommy Angelo's story. From there, every facet of Mafia: Definitive Edition's presentation was built to take full advantage of modern techniques and hardware.
"The original game was finished 18 years ago, and the technology it had been developed on is even older, so the number of things we've improved is just huge!" says Motejzik. "For example, we can fine-tune how the lighting and reflections work in order to support the atmosphere and impression that the missions make. We've added thousands of period details, simulations of how the main character's coats are moving, improved animations and facial movements—and all these aspects intensify the cinematic experience of the game."
Rebuilding Lost Heaven for Mafia: Definitive Edition was a huge component of the remake's art design, as the city is practically a character unto itself. "What I'm looking forward to most is showing the city of Lost Heaven to the players, particularly fans of the original game," says Motejzik. "Due to the original technology, players couldn't see the city silhouette from distance, as the range of vision was limited in order to optimize performance. Now, we're giving a beautiful city silhouette to the players, and I hope they'll enjoy it just like our team did. We focused on a new city skyline and wanted to show the verticality of the city's center."
From skyscrapers to small details, everything has been crafted with care. Some of the more subtle touches that Motejzik takes pride in are the aforementioned clothing physics of the mobsters' elegant attire, and the materials that make up the gorgeous period-authentic cars—as Motejzik puts it, "the chrome parts on the vehicles' beautiful old shapes are simply sexy."
"We wanted the player to really feel like a member of a Mafia family; to feel the atmosphere in Salieri's bar where the Don's gang is headquartered," says Motejzik. "We put a lot of emphasis on the details and authenticity, so the players could go to the bar, kitchen, workshop, garages, Salieri's office, and so on. Everything is pulsating with life there. You can practically smell the cologne, expensive perfumes, and cigars smoked by the elegant men wearing suits, mixed with the smell of tires and oil from Ralphie's garage."
Below, you can feast your eyes on some of Mafia: Definitive Edition's concept art, showcasing visions of Lost Heaven's many districts and some familiar haunts. You'll also see the beginnings of elements that were added for the Definitive Edition, like rideable motorcycles and the new main menu screen set within a dark hotel room illuminated by a neon sign outside. And be sure to visit the Media section where you can peruse the latest high-resolution screenshots and trailers ahead of Mafia: Definitive Edition's launch on September 25.