When Mafia II released for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, I think it’s fair to say that it was of my favourite games of that generation.  Sure the gameplay wasn’t perfect and the characters were very cliché from the world of Hollywood mobster movies, but no game made me feel like I was playing in a world belonging to some of my favourite movies such as Goodfella’s, The Godfather and Casino.  I enjoyed Mafia II so much, that I ended up finishing the game on both PS3 and Xbox 360.  So when Mafia II: Definitive Edition was officially revealed, I was over the moon to play an enhanced version of the game that I love.  Prior to this review being published, the game suffered with a poor framerate on PS4 and it was full of bugs & glitches.  Thankfully however, the game has now been patched and is more far more acceptable and closer to doing the original 2010 release some justice.

For now for the purposes of those that may be experiencing this game for the first time, let’s quickly gloss over the plot.  You play as war veteran Vito Scaletta and upon returning from the war, it soon becomes apparent that a simple 9 to 5 job isn’t quite going to cut it in Empire Bay, a fictional city with influences taken from New York City, Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.   Thankfully for Vito, his best friend Joe Barbaro can hook him up with some well paid work that will help set him and Vito’s family straight in this challenging world.  However, the job involves working for the mob and Vito soon finds himself thrown into a new kind of war, smack, bang in the middle of a power struggle between Empire Bay’s most powerful Mafia crime families.

At its core, Mafia II is a third-person shooter, which can be compared to the likes of Grand Theft Auto, but only in a sense that the game takes place in an open, crime filled city, however, it’s also nowhere near to the level of depth to that of the Rockstar series.  But Mafia II isn’t trying to be a GTA, this is a much more grounded story that can be compared to some of your favourite mafia movies and that is the main appeal for me personally.  In Empire Bay you will start from the bottom of the 1940’s criminal world, as you climb up the mobster ranks taking you through to the 1950’s.

There will be some side-missions to take part in, as well as finding collectibles, but for me, I never found the extra activities all that interesting to begin with and I rarely strayed too far away from the path that the main story had set.  As you cruise the streets in one of 50 cars of that era, the mob will have you collecting in on protection rackets, beating up some punks, right on through to robbing jewellery stores and more, before those menial tasks become beneath you as you move up in the hierarchy.

In 2010, I was very aware that this game wasn’t perfect in terms of gameplay, but the world, the setting, its characters and the story was more than enough to carry me through.  Sadly however, in this remaster (not remake), nothing seems to be improved upon in terms of how the game plays.  It still features an awkward cover system, that will have you popping in and out of cover at times by accident, and the shooting can feel very inconsistent and overly sensitive.  So I would recommend adjusting the sensitivity settings in the options if you’re finding it a little too fiddly.  The driving aspect is still fine and seems to replicate what I would expect a car to handle from the 1940’s and 50’s era.  Just be weary of the cops, because they will come after you for going over the speed limit if seen.  You can select your car to not automatically go over the speed limit, which feels odd, but in fairness, as I touched upon earlier, Mafia II edges towards the direction of realism, rather than the tongue-in-cheek, satire world of GTA.

Sadly, while I would have liked to have seen gameplay tweaked with the shooting and cover system being improved upon, which it’s not, this “Definitive Edition” doesn’t do much in terms of visual improvements either and from what I can tell, it’s pretty much the bare minimum from what you’d expect from a remaster.  The textures, environments, character animations and cut-scenes do look slightly better in terms of graphics and graphics alone.  With Mafia II: Definitive Edition being a remaster and not a remake (such as the upcoming Mafia: Definitive Edition this August), it would have been nice to see some of the environments and animations being rebuilt, similar to that of the Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy, a collection of remastered games that had new visuals, but retained the core gameplay from the original games.

As I also briefly touched upon in this a little earlier in the review, prior to writing, this game was in a bit of a mess.  If it wasn’t bugging, glitching and at times crashing, the game was performing at a quite horrendous framerate and when you consider that this is a remaster of a last-gen title running on a current-gen console, there was little to excuse for such a poorly executed port.  Thankfully however, the most recent patch has seemed to address all those issues, including the one that would place the ugly 2K (Linked) account logo in the top-right hand corner of the screen, which would stay there in-game, useless you quit to the main menu and re-loaded the save.  While not perfect, the framerate is much more acceptable now.  It has also been upgraded to make use of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X 4K capabilities, and playing on the PS4 Pro post patch, I can see a quite noticeable upgrade in the games visuals.

Now that this game has been fixed, there is plenty to enjoy with Mafia II: Definitive Edition and along with the main campaign, this remaster does come with some extras.  Bundled in with this Definitive Edition is all previously released DLC including two story expansions with The Betrayal of Jimmy and Jimmy’s Vendetta, both are set in a different canon to that of the main game and you play as a gun-for-hire, who has a striking resemblance to that of Hitman’s Agent 47, and he seeks revenge upon those that framed him for a crime he did not commit.  Then you have Joe’s Adventures, which has you playing as Vito’s best friend and without giving too much away, its set during a time when Vito is absent during the main campaign.

In conclusion, pre-review, this remaster was looking at a score not much over a 5 (if it was lucky), but now issues have been addressed, it’s now in a state in which it should have released.  This may not be the best remaster it could have been and it has released with some minimal improvements, but that said, it’s certainly now performing better and is a prettier version of a game I love, at least on the PS4 Pro and I’m thoroughly enjoying my time in Empire Bay once more.  So now that it has been fixed, post-update, I can recommend Mafia II: Definitive Edition and I can now see why I loved this game back in 2010, because no game has me feeling like a member of a mobster family, quite like Mafia II, that is at least until Mafia: Definitive Edition releases this coming August.

  • You can purchase Mafia II: Definitive Edition now on its own or as part of the Mafia Trilogy which also includes Mafia III: Definitive Edition (a re-release) and Mafia: Definitive Edition (a full remake of the 2002 original), which releases on August 29th, 2020.