MAFIA II Definitive Edition Reviewed on the Playstation 4
Mafia II is a 2010 linear action game developed by Hangar 13 set in the 1940’s starring a returning immigrant war hero, Vito Scaletta, who turns to a life of organized crime along with his pal Joe Barbaro, working up the ranks as they try to make a name for themselves.
It has plenty of different gameplay elements such as stealth, straight-up gun fights, fist-fighting and driving; lots and lots of driving. Unfortunately, it particularly excels at none of them. A decade later, the definitive edition is still plagued with all the issues of the original, and new ones of its own.
With such emphasis on the narrative one might expect the story of Mafia II to be a classic tale akin to the likes of The Godfather or Goodfellas, instead we get a disappointing drama downtrodden with multiple plot holes, clichés, stereotypes and some of the most predictable twists I’ve seen to date.
The story focuses almost entirely on the lives of the protagonist Vito and the lead supporting character Joe, and their antics, while the whole mafia aspect of the game remains only as a decorative backdrop.
The main characters weren’t particularly unique or interesting; a couple of side characters dropped in and out occasionally, and frankly never significantly impacted us enough to care. The writing is usually hit-or-miss and repetitive.
Each of the fourteen chapters were more or less the same, the only one I thoroughly enjoyed and showed even the slightest hint of character development was Chapter Six – ‘Time Well Spent’. After almost fourteen hours of the main story, I was left with nothing that really stuck with me.
The game essentially consists of four gameplay elements: cover-based shooting, stealth, fist-fighting and driving. You’ll spend most of your time driving and shooting from cover.
The cover-based shooting system is pretty sub-par, nothing special. The driving is where the real pain is at, it’s monotonous and unforgiving, and not the least bit enjoyable. Vehicles are limited, have terrible handling and feel identical to one another. There’s a lot of get from point A to point B, tailing missions and the worst of all, driving all the way home just to proceed to the next story chapter. Such outdated segments have no place in games anymore, especially in 2020.
Fist-fighting is atmost basic, with wonky camera angles making it difficult to see where your character is during the fight and is completely reliant on timed button presses. Stealth is rarely used throughout the main story, and only once in Joe’s Adventures, leaving it long forgotten.
Be aware that the game also has unforgiving checkpoints which can get really frustrating, especially in Chapter 14 – Stairway to Heaven.
Mafia II has a wonderful setting, starting off in a winter during the 1940s set in the fictional city of Empire Bay that closely resembles New York. It has a nice Christmas vibe with snow falling everywhere and holiday songs playing on the radio, despite all this, d3t fails to bring this winter wonderland into life with their lousy, uninspired efforts with the remaster.
Character models look like dull and lifeless action figures, environments have been worked on minimally, if they have been worked on at all; some character models and objects have simply been omitted from the remastering process. At times the game looks like it’s from the PS2 era, and at its best it looks like a game from 2012.
Being a game that was released a decade ago and on previous-gen, one might expect it to run at a stable sixty frames-per-second and provide a seamless experience, disappointingly, that’s not the case. Incessant frame rate drops, regular texture pop-ins with cars appearing seemingly out of nowhere and very short draw distances are the norm here. With the specifications of consoles today, I think it’s safe to say that they aren’t the cause of the problems here.
During my first play-through, I encountered three game breaking bugs that forced me to replay the missions over and over again, until one of my trial-and-error methods broke it and let me proceed further. The game also crashed twice, giving me the (CE-34878-0) error. It would be difficult to address all the issues, as there are enough for it to be made into a whole separate list.
Audio & Music
Decade defining songs like Dean Martin’s That’s Amore and Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be the Day fill your ears throughout the game. The licensed soundtrack is exceptional, although you might sometimes hear a song that hasn’t been released until a couple of years later.
The radio stations, even though there are only three, are commendable. My favourite one being Empire Central’s the Rockin’ Ricky Fox Show hilariously reporting on current events, new discoveries and inventions, which was often the only form of entertainment during the long periods of driving.
The sound design and music are usually done well, with accurate and detailed depictions of gun shot and reloading sounds. Composers Matúš Široký and Adam Kuruc have done a decent job setting the tone of the game.
The voice acting is mediocre, and there’s an issue where at a lot of times the dialogue is only heard from the left side, but it’s still the best aspect of the game.
Mafia II: Definitive Edition is a buggy, unstable and frustrating experience that comprises of the main story, and three additional DLC content out of which only one is worth playing. If you’ve played the original there’s no good reason to revisit it, as it’s simply not worth it. Keeping in spirit of the Christmas vibe, 2K should take more time to address all these issues and push towards a Christmas release.