Mafia 2 Review
Tommy Guns and Pin ups.
In a very rapid set of movements Mafia 2 Definitive Edition was announced and released all within a fortnight. For fans of the infamous crime trilogy, like the two of us here at 3Bit this was incredible news. Especially when the website announcement states that Mafia 2 Definitive Edition is “remastered with stunning audio and visual upgrades”. But is Mafia 2 Still a Don or is it something we need to forget in the boot of the car? Keep on reading to find out if this is the case.
Gameplay- Disrespecting the Godfather.
The original Mafia 2 was great, there is no questioning anything about that, but the 3rd person action shooter did have its flaws, such as how the NPC’s act on the streets and how they react to your actions, along with the occasional clipping issue. For a definitive edition you would think that 2K and Hanger 13 would clear up these issues to bring it into a perfect form, however they have not. There are still a lot of areas that need work. For example, when I was driving, I decided to use the stairs as a shortcut, only to delay myself indefinitely as I clipped into the stairs. When I hear the words definitive edition, I would expect a polished and close to perfect title, however Hanger 13 have fallen short here as they remastered Mafia 2. However, the Definitive Edition does stay true to the original Mafia 2’s gameplay style. The game is still a brutal and honest rendition of the time as you fight your way up the ranks of the mob life. The chapters are for the most part separated into single days, where each day gives you something different to carry out, be it to get a job at the docks or to perform a hit on a rival family. The gameplay is relatively simplistic with combat being a move from cover to cover, fighting enemies as the spawn in at various stages increasing in difficulty as you progress. The game takes no shortcuts in delivering its punchy story through its amazing gameplay. Whilst the game does have a good amount of cinematic content I would say a lot of the story is advanced more through playing the game, even in the more tedious aspects, such as loading a box into a van or paying your mother a visit to help her with issues from the prelude. But these story moments still only make a small part of the gameplay, as even more of the gameplay is about being more than you could amount to as a normal law-abiding citizen. We play through multiple environments in Mafia 2, from the Sicilian battlegrounds of WW2 to the cold winter of Empire Bay and even to the harsh prisons of the late 40's.
The gameplay is primarily driving and combat, with a degree of exploration and stealthy infiltration. The gameplay is relatively simplistic with combat being a move from cover to cover, fighting enemies as the spawn in at various stages increasing in difficulty as you progress. Whilst the driving is honestly still a bit of a disaster piece as it constantly feels as though you are driving on a wet and icy road regardless of the weather. You are also still given the option to free roam between your missions, carrying out side jobs, buying new weapons, or even just cause a lot of chaos, terrorising the citizens and police alike throughout the 40s and the 50s.
Graphics- Blocky... yeah, he’s my second cousin
When we get a Remaster or Definitive Edition we have gradually seen more and more improvements graphically, which not only bring a game into the modern time, but also bring a whole new level of immersion. To bring a level of immersion to a title through graphics every element must be upgraded, from the level building through to character and vehicle models. Mafia 2 Definitive Edition has done incredibly well in rebuilding its levels, bringing the streets of Empire Bay to the modern gamer. With refreshing lighting and new textures Empire Bay looks fantastic every hour of the day, every season of the year. The cars are looking great too, with amazing improvements to their appearance. The reflective surfaces and matted textures look like a piece of the past brought to life and the damage taken when your car crashes really looks retrospective to the impact made, just like in the original mafia 2, with far more detail. Graphically the only place that has failed to be improved upon is the character models and it is a shame because both on the streets and during the cutscenes characters look blocky and cheap, with very little improvement to textures or even to the structure of the original square headed humans. It’s this one short coming that some may consider minor, but for myself it really pulls me out of the immersion. The graphical quality declines rapidly from great to poor and a good example of this was in the early missions as I am being introduced to the family. I enter a beautiful looking bar with wood panelling and amazing lighting, I walk up the stairs and the game shifts to a cut scene, where I am greeted by a flat and poorly textured man eating from a textureless bowl of soup. These details niggled at me as I watched on and when thrown back into the gameplay, I left myself questioning whether I was still playing the Definitive Edition. Overall Mafia 2 Definitive edition has seen some very good improvements in its graphics. However, these improvements are overshadowed by everything that has been neglected and ignored during the remaster process.
Audio- Noisier than an Italian neighbourhood
The Soundtrack to Mafia 2 always has and always will be sublime, from its melancholic pause piece, to the incredible background music during tasks. Matúš Široký really out did himself with the score to Mafia 2 and the soundtrack is just as great today as it was then. Mafia 2 also has an incredible selection of songs from the 40s and 50s many of which people may recognise from other games set around similar time periods, such as the Fallout series and Wolfenstein – The New Order.
When it comes to Audio in regard to voice recording and the syncing of said audio, once again Mafia2 Definitive Edition falls short. When you look into Mafia 2 Definitive Edition’s release information Hanger 13 promises the improvement in visuals and sound, however within the first moments of the game, in the very first cutscene, we are given voices filled with background noise and distortion, instantly dispelling any promise made with the titles release. It is almost cringy in how no effort has been made to clean up the archive footage, especially with the technology available even to commercial users like you and me. This is yet another issue Mafia 2 Definitive Edition presents us as it really does fail to live up to its promises.
Story- A Timeless Gangsters Paradise.
Thankfully the story to Mafia 2 has been untouched in the Definitive Edition, and if you are new to the game then this section is definitely for you!
In 1943 Vito Scaletta is arrested for taking part in a robbery, to avoid prison he joins the army in the peak of WW2. We join Vito in his final mission 2 years later in Sicily before returning home, where we begin our adventure into mob life, in a quest to become more than our father, more than our friends in the endless pursuit of power. The games story takes us from the allied invasion in Sicily, to the beautiful Empire Bay, during the winter of 1945 snow where Vito reconnects with his family and his former partner in crime where he begins working for the Italian Mob. As Vito’s Journey begins so does ours as we enter a downward spiral into petty crime, murder and even illicit trading. Vito’s trials and tribulations make for a captivating story from start to finish and it is a shame that whilst the story has stood the test of time other aspects of the Definitive Edition have not. Mafia 2 has an incredible story of love, lust, Violence revenge and betrayal, it is one well worth experiencing if you have not done so before and if you have it is still just as enjoyable the second and third time around!
Summary- A disappointment to the family.
If I was reviewing this title 10 years ago with the initial release of Mafia 2 I would easily be giving this title a 8 out of 10. Mafia 2 was an incredible title with exceptional gameplay, story points and graphics that were relatively good for its time. However, I am not reviewing the original, instead I am reviewing the Definitive Edition, a remaster that promised improvements across the board and failed to deliver a lot of key points. Overall, for a Definitive Edition, Mafia 2 really does underwhelm, and perhaps more time and care should have been put into remastering this once legendary title, which is still the favourite amongst fans. Let us hope that Hanger 13 do not repeat the same mistakes in August when they release Mafia 1, a full remake that is set to bring the same promises and more that Mafia 2 offered.