Leave This Game, Take The Cannoli
HIGH A story Scorsese would be proud of.
LOW That checkpoint system.
WTF This is what they call a remaster?
I was originally going to open this review with some awful mafia-rleated jokes and puns, but I feel like I should cut to the chase here –the Mafia II: Definitive Edition is a broken game that feels dated and this re-release deserved to have a better coat of paint.
Originally released in 2010, this port of 2K’s open-world action-adventure is titled the “definitive edition” and on the surface, it seems like it’s the total package boasting a cleaner visual style and three post-release DLC packs for $30 (or $60 as a part of a bundle with the other Mafia games). It sounds like a hell of a deal, and ordinarily, would be an offer no one could refuse.
Unfortunately, MII:DE fails to do what remasters should do — improve the original game in some way and update it for modern audiences, whether this be a bump in resolution, better framerate or having some glitches ironed out. Mafia II: DE checks none of these boxes and I’m honestly surprised that it was released in this state.
…Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Mafia II is the second in a trilogy of crime stories. In this installment, players assume the role of Vito Scaletta. An Italian-American World War II veteran, Vito returns to fictional Empire City (an amalgam of New York, Chicago, Detroit and Boston) to make a name for himself. His childhood friend, Joe Barbaro, hooks him up with some work for a few crime families.
The action happens from a third-person perspective in an open-world environment. Empire City is a big place full of shops, bars and collectibles to find though, there’s not much else. The main story is linear and most missions involve getting behind cover and shooting at someone. It’s not too exciting, and worse when the game forces driving and backtracking to the same few re-used locations.
The lukewarm gameplay wouldn’t be an issue if checkpoint issues weren’t so prevalent throughout. After getting my ass handed to me by bullet-sponge enemies, going back to the very beginning of a mission is the worst, and the campaign’s final mission sent me back at least six times.
These issues are holdovers from older game design, but what can’t be excused by the game’s age are the myriad of technical issues that drag the entire experience down. One of the most egregious is the framerate, which drops like crazy whenever players drive — and since driving makes up about half of all story missions, this is a big problem. There are also numerous glitches and bugs, some so severe that they prevented me from starting certain missions and the game sometimes crashed in the middle of difficult missions.
In spite of all tis, I will say that Mafia II’s story is among the best in the entire medium. While most games tend to follow the template set by big blockbusters, there’s a human story here on par with the best mobster dramas, and the ending to the narrative is one of my favorites, ever.
Unfortunately, this version of Mafia II feels like a barely-touched-up version of a last-gen game that constantly tested my patience and despite my love for the script, I can’t recommend that anyone play through hours and hours of a mediocre, buggy mess just to see the cutscenes. In its current state, Mafia II: Definitive Edition is not worth a player’s time or money — without any further improvements or substantial patches, this one needs to sleep with the fishes.
Disclosures: This game is developed by 2K Czech, remastered by Hangar 13 and published by 2K Games. It is available on XBO, PS4 and PC. This copy was obtained via paid download and was reviewed on PS4. Approximately 13 hours of play were devoted to the game, and the campaign was completed. There is no multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M for Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language and Use of Drugs and Alcohol. This game tells the kind of mature story full of violence, sex and drugs that anyone who’s seen a mob flick would come to expect. The game also curses an absolute f*ckton — so much so that it holds the world record for most f-bombs in any game, according to Guinness. Definitely not recommended for anyone under 17.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game is fully accessible without sound, as subtitles are present throughout and enemies and other points of interest are highlighted on the minimap. There are no audio cues necessary for gameplay.
Remappable Controls: No, the controls are not remappable.