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Mafia II Definitive Edition Xbox One review

27 Aug 2020

Whilst we wait for the release of the re-imagining of the original Mafia game, right now, the Mafia II Definitive Edition is available to play.

2010’s Mafia II took what was a nice idea in the first Mafia game and improved it in every way. Ground-breaking at its original release back in 2002, the original Mafia game dated quickly, the clanky controls and so-so performance keeping it from being a game that I would return to.

Even a decade after release, Mafia II is still a game that I’ve picked up and played pretty regularly on PC. The Mafia II Definitive Edition gives the game a bit of a polish up for the XB1 and PS4 and includes all three DLC expansions. Owners of the original game on PC get the upgraded version for free.

Mafia II follows the rise of Italian immigrant, Vito Scaletta, through the ranks of the Falcone Mafia family. The game starts in 1943 as a young Vito gets signed up by the US Army for the liberation of Sicily, rather than go to jail.

Back in Empire City, whilst on leave from the army, Vito meets up with his friend Joe, who secures him the papers needed to get out of the Army. Whilst doing jobs to earn enough money to pay off his late father’s debts, Vito is arrested for theft and sent to jail.  

After his release in 1951. Vito teams back up with Joe and starts working for the Falcone Family. This begins Vito’s journey to becoming a made man of the Mafia.

The game’s plot is engaging and, even though I’d played through the game back in the day, I still really enjoyed the story. 

The game is packed with interesting and well-realised characters, but it’s Empire City that is the star of Mafia II. The detailed metropolis still comes off as a living, breathing city in the remaster, looking all the better for the polished up visual and lighting effects. 

The game is mission-based with the whole of Empire City open to explore. Vito can make his way around town on foot or by car. Whilst the driving sections are as slick as ever, the running animations and movement are starting to look a little dated.

Cops are on the lookout and with make chase if Vito drives too fast or erratically. If caught he’ll need to pay a fine, or a bribe. Mafia II has some of the most attentive cops you’ll find in a video game. Cars have speed limiter for keeping under the limit for if you can’t control yourself.

As you’d imagine, there’s plenty of shooting in the game. Whilst the game’s cover mechanics were innovative back in the day, they aren’t as slick as the likes of, say, Grand Theft Auto V. Shootouts are still a lot of fun, though.   

As the game progresses seasons change and Empire City changes as well. The songs on the radio update as the game moves from the ‘40s to the ‘50s, as do the cars on the road. 

Mafia II looks good, but you can tell that it’s an older game that’s been given a polish. For PC players, the remaster is really no more than a re-texture of the original, with moderately better visuals. For Xbox One and PS4 players, this new version is the first time Mafia II has appeared on this generation of consoles and at such high resolution. Either way, it’s a great opportunity for new players to sample a great game and old players to revisit a polished-up old favourite.

Mafia II Definitive Edition is a great opportunity to add a classic game to your collection. Don’t be concerned about the original game’s 2010 vintage, Mafia II still looks good, has a great story and plays well.