As part of the Mafia Trilogy that is coming out of the next few months, 2K has just released a remastered version of Mafia II. The updated version of the 2010 original launches alongside a ‘definitive edition’ of 2016’s Mafia III, with a remake of the original Mafia slated for August. This marks the first time you can play Mafia II on current consoles, so we tried it out on a PlayStation 4.
A trilogy that features a relaunch, a remaster and a remake all in one package might sound confusing, and the inevitable end result will be that Mafia II will look like the most dated of the three games. The remake of the original Mafia is being built with the engine that was used for Mafia III, which I still believe to be a stunning title for the current generation. Mafia II isn’t getting that treatment, but it does feature vastly improved visuals. More on that later.
Loosely tied to the events in the first game, Mafia II centers around Vito Scaletta and his rise within the ranks of the Italian mobster in a fictionalized version of 1940s/1950s New York. Taking place in an open world, I always enjoyed Mafia (and its sequel) more than the GTA games. That’s probably not a popular opinion, but I really liked the tight narrative direction, the excellent level designs for the various missions and the large amount of gameplay diversity in said missions. That, combined with great use of visual and auditory atmosphere, made these two games true classics for me.
In terms of gameplay this is mostly the same game we got back in 2010, but the visual overhaul is substantial and makes good use of the extra horsepower we have available today. The city itself feels more vibrant and alive now that we see more people traveling the sidewalks on foot, and in addition to upgrades resolutions (up to 4K) some of the game’s textures have also been replaced with higher quality ones. Because it’s not a full remake this doesn’t apply to everything and despite improved detail levels the cutscenes look a little rough, but the difference is clear.
Sure, the gameplay and gunplay aren’t as refined as some of today’s greats like the Uncharted series, but many of the game’s missions and locations are spectacular and provide an experience that’s still well worth it in 2020. Besides a good variety in mission design, you also get access to different weapons and vehicles, each one handling differently than the other.
It’s worth pointing out that this release also contains all of the post-release DLC that came out for the game, with Joe’s Adventures being the best of the bunch. I personally can’t wait for the remake to come out in August, so I can play through the entire trilogy in the correct order and experience the impact of the various twists and turns in the narrative. As good as it looks, it’s exciting to realize that the games that will bookend this remaster are going to be even better looking and will likely play a smoother game – making this an extremely worthwhile trilogy for this generation of hardware. If you’ve yet to experience Mafia II then this is a great way of going so, and if you enjoyed the original release then this should provide some nostalgic kicks through a game that’s held up very well in terms of its narrative despite some aging gameplay mechanics.