Mafia II: Definitive Edition Review

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Story
9
Gameplay
6
Presentation
5
Sound
6
7

✔️A genuine Mobster thrillride.
✔️Strong Narrative carries the overall experience.
✔️Dynamic universe makes for some interesting scenarios.

❌Graphically lackluster.
❌Plays like a decade old title.
❌Glitches, Bugs, load times, texture pop-ins.

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An offer you can refuse... 

Labeling a video game with the moniker “Definitive” can be quite the ambitious promise. It delivers a sense of achievement and assurance when designing any feature or product. It gives the consumer hope that they’re in for the genuine experience that redefines everything you already know about said feature, and elevates its quality of life. QA (Quality Assurance) will always be a vital resource for developer’s, but most importantly its publisher’s reputation. So I do find it quite baffling that a reputable publisher of bar-setting quality standards such as 2K, may have let this “remaster” slip through the cracks? I feel as the Mafia II: Definitive Edition may have been overcompensating on its promise of delivering the definitive experience in its 2010 cult classic. Granted the title was first released for the PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360, I’m bewildered by its bare-bone aesthetics, and poor optimisation for current gen systems.

Sure, a fine lacquer has been applied with some polished texture mapping for its existing blueprint, but its shortcomings are made apparent by its poor loading times, and visible pop-in. These glaring issues are discernible, and are quite hard to overlook in the grand scope of Mafia II’s entire presentation. Barefaced and laden with additional core design issues, the title delivers a solid narrative that draws inspiration from many a traditional mobster flick, with the stereotypical Italian immigrant living in the shady streets of a fictional New York-inspired city by the bay. While Mafia II’s foundation may have been substantial and secure a decade ago, it can’t quite keep up its balancing act of delivering an archaic gameplay loop, with an astounding plot in a polygonal world rendered in 4K. I admit, I may be setting the bar high from what I expect in this remaster. Recently we have been spoiled for choice, but to excuse the many flaws and faults Mafia II: DE demonstrates would be a disservice.

Look at how they massacred my boy.

It would be difficult for developer Hangar 13 to remedy their oversights, and simply patch the various vices Mafia II: DE carries. It’s an unfortunate circumstance, due to Mafia II’s legacy the racketeer rubric cemented in the previous generation. Its lack of refinement anchors the Definitive Edition with its intention to mirror the precise qualities seen in its original rendition, yet it ultimately falls flat. In true form of any transition, minor re-sculpting is present with elementary facial upgrades that can go by unnoticed. I made the remark that most new in-game male character models have been converted to “Ken Dolls”. I’m honestly at war with my clouded judgement, as I adore its plot line, representing heritage within the Northern Hemisphere. As someone who loves a good mobster flick; Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995), Analyze This (1999), and of course the trilogy that defines its genre, The Godfather, I can say without a doubt that Mafia’s first two entry’s are on par with these franchises.

But in gaming, a solid plot and creative story is only one element of the overall experience. Without refining or reassuring the game is ready for publication, only does its legacy more harm, and could ruin the prospect of any sequels that may be well into development. For those who have yet to experience Mafia II, the story begins in the year 1943. Vito Scaletta, a former mobster turned burglar is arrested mid-heist and is kept captive until given the choice to serve in the military. Avoiding a jail sentence, the Sicilian immigrant joins the U.S. Army for two years as a paratrooper during the second world war. Dismissed in 1945, Vito returns to Empire Bay, reuniting with his former associate, Joe Barbaro after providing him discharge papers which turn out to be completely fake. The counterfeit contracts were submitted leaving Vito a free man returning to his former life of crime.

Mafia II’s timeline is separated into two acts. Returning home in the mid 40’s, Vito learns his late father had left his family in debt, with a loan shark seeking collateral. Looking to keep his mother safe from harm’s way, Vito rejoins the Mob in hopes of earning an income to pay off his father’s crippling credit. “Capo” of the Mafia, Derek Pappalardo delegates Scaletta and Barbaro to take random job requests from “Made Men” Henry Tomasino and Brother “Capo” Luca Gurino. By the way “Capo” in Italian means head, but in the mafioso it translates to Caporegime, a high ranking “family” member of the Mafia. Earning enough to alleviate his family from any debt, Vito pays off the loan shark but is caught by authorities and immediately jailed for theft and sale of federal ration stamps.

The story itself shows promise that the title can deliver an engaging plot that will entice those who love a true cinematic experience in their video games. I found myself astounded by how mesmerised I was to revisit Mafia II’s action-packed adventure, with its incredible narrative. The value behind its plot, is how well structured and segregated multiple scenarios are. Each act leaves it in low risk of becoming tedious or mundane. Mafia II’s premise is astounding, and on full display in its remaster. Yes, optimally the title has various issues that its developer needs to sort. This includes the all too familiar “Assassin’s Creed-esque” invisible facial structure glitch, that scared the bejesus out of me. Giving Mafia II: DE credit, I did revel in its nostalgia factor that inspired me to cross the finish line and reflect on the campaign. While the campaign’s plot remains strong, its gameplay loop has aged poorly.

Nothing Personal, It's just business.

From New York City, Downtown Chicago, the great bays of San Francisco, to Hollywood Boulevard, Empire Bay’s foundation lifts heavy inspiration from the aforementioned iconic cities of the United States. All renowned for having their own unique Mobs, Gangs, Crime Rings and Syndicates, the amalgamation of an entire generation of crime is moulded into one fanciful feature that scales down the Western underworld. With a reactive universe, weather patterns and time changes are handled in what has become an industry standard in open world/sandbox gaming. Gallivanting through the city in your expensive Corvette may come at a cost during irrational weather changes. Daring to take a cruise in a snow storm may be a questionable decision, as your vehicle will ski down the slippery surface of a frozen freeway. This can be a frustrating feature that may endanger your protagonist in multiple ways, the worst being death by crash while being chased down by the local authorities or enemy mobsters.

Firearms and weaponry vary from in-game progress to its diverse locale. Die-hards of the Mafia franchise will immediately recognise returning models used from the series first entry, along with a number of praxis armoury at your disposal. Empire Bay’s dynamic environments are littered with interactive objects that can range from sensible behaviour with surrounding NPC’s, right to the nitty gritty’s of committing Grand Theft Auto. The discreet act of picking a lock on an automobile is such a gratifying feature. The title’s espionage’ is almost non-existent with enemy AI immediately spotting our protagonist while keeping out of sight. While the game clearly emphasises its cover system as crucial, it became a major issue while trying to progress within certain missions. I had issues with the title soft locking in these situations with my character clipping through walls, crates, and through the floor while crouching.

Clipping is a common theme in Mafia II: DE, and may occur at any given moment. Randomly driving through the street and pulling into the repair shop, I fell through the solid surface like I was diving into a sinkhole of repetitive textures. The bottomless void had me going through limbo for a few minutes before I caved and reset the game. I revisited the exact spot of my descent, but instead was successful in entering the garage on my second attempt. Weird. It’s such an odd sensation experiencing glitches of this caliber in our current gaming climate. Given how these issues are a non-factor in the title’s initial rendition, I question how the developer had lifted the original framework and had poorly optimised the experience for next gen hardware? I would entertain the idea of development having a limited capacity due to our ongoing pandemic, but a title of this magnitude would have been in development for sometime, pre-covid.

Personal feelings aside, Mafia II: Definitive Edition is still fun. It’s ambiguity will be questioned for sometime. While we await the overhaul of Mafia’s initial entry, we’re given a chance to revisit the franchise in its sequel. Sure it’s marketed as “Definitive” but to counterbalance its moniker, I would label it the pre-patched edition. I do expect Hangar 13 to be hard at work, polishing this entry in time for 2K’s major re-release later this year, but I could be super ambitious to assume this. Yes, it’s littered with bugs, has some texture pop-in and load time issues, and can be a pain with its numerous object and model glitches, but its narrative is strong and its charm does lament its many faults. While Mafia II: Definitive Edition may be an uninspired revisiting, it does aspire to deliver a steady cinematic experience.

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Mafia II: Definitive Edition - 2K Games

Mafia II is an action-adventure video game developed by 2K Czech and published by 2K Games. It was released in August 2010 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows; Mafia II: Director’s Cut was released by Feral Interactive in December 2011.

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Story
9
Gameplay
6
Presentation
5
Sound
6
7

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