The first time I played Mafia II, I was 20-years old. It was a decade ago and the state of video gaming was very different than it is today. Open-world crime sims were all the rage and Grand Theft Auto was (still) the mack daddy of them all. Mafia and its sequel were an altogether different beast though.
Far removed from the zany antics of GTA and Saints Row, Mafia attempted to make the player feel like they were living the life of a mafioso. When it was released, Mafia II expanded and improved upon the original in many ways.
The addition of a cover system radically changed the way Mafia II played, making gunfights more exciting, more engaging and just way more fun. Now, 2K and Hangar 13 have remastered Mafia II, giving it a 4K makeover and bringing it to current-gen consoles for the first time.
Mafia II Definitive Edition
Right off the bat, if you played and enjoyed Mafia II when it was released, you’ll get a kick out of this remaster. The story is still great. The characters are still intersting, well-rounded and brought to life by great voice-acting. Vita Scalleta is one of the great underrated leading men in video game history and his hetero life-partner Joe is a real gem.
However, Mafia II is a product of its time and it’s aged, noticeabley. As enjoyable and entertaining as it is to play-act as a mafioso, the open-world is largely empty. Aside from completing missions and furthering the story, there isn’t a whole lot to do in Mafia II.
You’ll spend a huge amount of time simply driving between locations, listening to chatter and occasionally losing the cops for accidentally rear-ending someone.
It gets a bit tedious.
However, that being said, the bulk of Mafia II is worth it. It’s a game that takes the idea of the gangster film and makes it playable.
In the last 10 years, video games have moved beyond simply being impressive by having a large world to explore. Now, we’re accustomed to near-limitless activities, side-quests, collectibles and more. And while Mafia II stands on its own and is more than worth playing for the story alone, playing it in 2020, it’s glaring how scant the content on offer seems, by comparison.
Being a 10-year old game, the visuals aren’t anything to write home about, but they’re not terrible either. The 4K remastering certainly helps them pop and Empire Bay has never looked crisper than it does now. That being said, remastering the visuals in 4K also shines a light on each and every visual deficiency Mafia II has.
It’s a double-edged sword.
Finally, as a depiction of life in the 1940s, Mafia II is rife with racist, sexist, mysoginist and homophobic language. It might have been a part of the times, but it makes it no less jarring to hear it coming from a game today. A disclaimer has been included which is helpful, but be prepared to hear this stuff as you play.
Mafia II: Definitive Edition is the best way to play Mafia II. It includes all of the released content, a shiny new coat of paint and one of the best gangster stories in or out of video games.
It’s well worth playing if you’re a fan, though it might not impress those without nostalgia. For me, it’s an easy win.
Mafia II Definitive Edition was reviewed on PC using a digital copy provided by 2K.
Game Title: Mafia II: Definitive Edition