Review: Mafia II: Definitive Edition
We're in a time of gaming where remasters are very frequently released. Mafia II, arguably one of the better games made in last generation, was always a good looking game, and while we without any doubt did ask for a remaster of it, I for sure didn't expect it to release so suddenly. Now it's here, though, in the form of a Definitive Edition - with some expected improvements, but is it enough, and does it run well? Let's look into it.
Platform: Xbox One S.
Just like any other remastered version of a game, the game itself and its story as well as gameplay, stays exactly the same. Before we get to control Vito, Mafia II's protagonist, a cut-scene plays that explains who he is, and his story as a child, to present time. During his older teenage years, he spent a lot of time committing crimes such as burglaries with his friend Joe.
Until one unlucky evening where they are spotted by the police while trying to rob a store - resulting in Vito getting caught and Joe managing to escape. Instead of being sent to jail, Vito has to join the army and fight in war. This is where the game begins, and I get to play as him. It's a great, interesting & informative introduction to the game, and it only makes me want to progress even further.
Visuals & performance
I remember thinking that Mafia 2 was as close to "next-gen" that we could possibly get during the last generation of consoles when it released. Its implementation of realistic driving, physx, ability to buy fuel for your car, graphics in general, big open world, and just overall realistic gameplay, was amazing to see in action.
Now, I might be spoiled due to how terrificly good Deep Silver handled the remaster of Saints Row The Third, and I do believe that I'm reviewing the updated version of the game, not the original one, so bear with me here; Mafia II's "remaster" isn't as special, really. Let me explain. The game DOES come with some nice visual improvements such as higher resolution for textures, better lighting, and... that's it.
I'm not even joking. Sure, there might be some very small changes like better shadows and draw distance in there as well, but if they're not as noticable, what's the point of them? To make matters worse, the game has performance issues that start primarily when driving or when in a firefight. To make matters EVEN worse, the audio is more worse than before, and the game isn't even running in native 1080p at all time, it's actually running with a dynamic resolution scaler, so there's drops below 1080p.
There's also the fact that this game SHOULD and could be running at 60 frames per second, but it's not. I really wanted Mafia II: Definitive Edition to be something really special, and offer something that could top the original version, but it's just very basic, with possibly even worse performance than before. I love the fact that I can now play this truly great game on my modern current generation console with higher resolution & such like, but I definitely expected more, and rightly so.
No gameplay changes would ever be appreciated for a remaster (unless they're very vital to change or add), so I'm at least glad that they haven't touched this masterpiece in that way. The same applies to the story, which is why I won't be talking about that.
Mafia 2 is a third-person shooter with open world elements in the likes of Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row, focusing on the adult life of Vito Scaletta and his involvement with the Mafia of Empire Bay, New York. The game has some scripted and linear parts, but is for the most part as open world as a game can be. With this there comes some awesome mechanics such as being able to fill your car up with fuel, rob stores, buy some nice new stylish clothes, eat food at home or restaurants to replenish health, customize cars, drive too fast so that the police gets on your tail, and more.
It's one of the best open world games that I've ever played, and that's partly due to the realistic gameplay, but also due to the story, of course, as that's equally as good. Whenever I'm not in a story mission, I'm free to explore Empire Bay, both during the winter and spring/summer. It's the same exceptional game that launched back in 2010, and thanks to that, this remaster is at least entirely OK, maybe even pretty decent at its best.
A big + with the Definitive Edition is that all previously released DLC is now included, and I didn't even play them on the Xbox 360, so I'm very happy about that. When it comes to the price, I'm not sure if it's right or not - a part of me feels like it should've been priced at $20 or $25.
All in all
It's not a secret that Mafia II: Definitive Edition could have been handled way better in nearly every way possible, but the sheer amount of fun, realism, great gameplay and amazing story that lies in the original game is in this case the savior - but it sadly won't change the fact that the game suffers from performance issues, it uses a dynamic resolution when there shouldn't be one, they missed a 60fps opportunity, and there's only basic visual upgrades, while audio is worse than before, though with all DLC included this time, which is great. I want to say that Mafia II: Definitive Edition is a great remaster, but there's so much more that they could've done. I can not deny that I love being able to play this game again, on my Xbox One, however - I'm very thankful for that.
Mafia II: Definitive Edition is available digitally on the Microsoft Store for the Xbox One, and is priced at $30. Are you interested in buying it? That can be done here: https://microsoft.msafflnk.net/X7OZ4
A review code was provided by 2K Games.
This review is written by Jesper Ingemansson and is based on his honest opinion about the game.
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