Mafia Remastered Trilogy – Review

Are these remasters truly the definitive experience?

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Mafia 2 first released way back in 2010 and was my introduction to the Mafia series. Running on an Xbox 360 in my small “gaming corner” in a shared bedroom, I would spend hours just roaming about and exploring the open world. So when I first saw the announcement of a remaster happening, I have no shame in saying I squealed like a little schoolgirl.

When the 19th May rolled around, I booted up my Xbox One X (the current “most powerful console”) and was prepared to be blown away by the advancements made in the past 10 years. I was definitely blown away, but unfortunately not due to good reasons. Nonetheless, this will be a full review and will cover all aspects of the 2 current re-mastered editions (with the first game’s remake arriving August 28th).

Mafia 2: Definitive Edition

Still an Amazing Story

The story off Mafia 2 is simple yet great at the same time. You are Vito Scaletta, a man who has been in and out of trouble from a young age; primarily due to his association with Joe, his best friend. In the beginning, it’s shown how Vito ends up getting into trouble with the law, and being made to enrol in the army to pay for his crimes. As far as game introductions go, the pacing for this one is a little off; with fast-paced action initiating the game, only to come to a slow crawl before building back up again later. Although effective at initially grabbing the player’s attention, having some consistency at the start may have worked better. But for story reasons, giving a bit of background to the main character does work.

After returning from the army we’re taken through how Vito first comes to be affiliated with the local Mafia, with the rest of the game covering the trials and tribulations he faced as a result of this. Character development is pretty poor as a lot of the main traits of the people you’ll see along the way are mostly given straight away, with no room really left to build upon them.

Despite this, the game is still able to throw in a few surprises when it comes to events along within the story. I won’t speak about any particular events due to spoiler reasons (I know, it’s a 10 year-old game technically but some may not have played it until now), but what I can say is things never seem to be quiet for Vito for very long.

Image showing part of a cutscene where the group shoot up a biker bar

The Gameplay

When jumping in to what is technically a 10 year-old game, you may be worried that the gameplay and controls aren’t quite up to scratch with the current generation of games. This isn’t so much of an issue with Mafia 2, however there are a few gleaming issues.

The first main issue is related to ye olde attempts at third-person aiming. To put it plainly: if you can see it, you can shoot it. In games like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, people can utilise the third-person perspective in order to see around corners. However, you may not necessarily be able to shoot around them if your gun is pressing against some brick wall, for example. Much to the player’s advantage, but breaking of any immersion they gained from the out-of-body existence they have going on. This is not the case in Mafia 2, if there’s a fight you’re struggling with, simply strategically place yourself behind a wall and shoot enemies with absolutely no line-of-sight to you. This may seem like cheating, but it’s just a creative use of in-game mechanics, I assure you.

Next is the matter of bugs and glitches. When playing the Xbox 360 version, I never really had many issues with the game breaking. This isn’t just my clouded and biased memories based on a happy childhood spent with the game either; I still own my Xbox 360 copy of the complete edition and I played it to make sure it wasn’t as bad as this remaster. It’s safe to say it isn’t, and still holds up really well for a now outdated version. In order to support my point I’ll attach a couple GIFs of what I’m talking about:

Vito using the force to strangle his foe

A character's face melting in a cutscene like in an old, low-budget horror film.

Although just a couple of examples, even these issues are repeatedly run into throughout the whole of the game. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just a few isolated issues, as games can have problems and that’s okay. But for a remastered version to have more problems than the original is shameful in a way, don’t you think?

A Summary of Mafia 2‘s Remaster:

When initially announced, my friends and I were incredibly excited to be able to play what we thought would be a much better version of a game we loved. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as great as we were hoping. Whether due to unnecessarily high expectations, or a perceived low chance of failing,  we were left rather underwhelmed. Mafia 2 itself is still an amazing game, and well worth the pick-up. But if you have an older console, maybe stick to picking up an original copy of the game for not even a quarter of the price. The glaring issues and minimal improvements, I can’t honestly say that picking the remaster over the original is worth it.


Mafia 3: Definitive Edition

A Great Story with Great Cinematics

Presented as if telling a story of something that previously happened, Mafia 3‘s story covers the actions of Lincoln Clay, an ex-vet who is black in an age where that wasn’t wholly accepted still. Right from the get-go Hanger 13 make it clear that they’re not going to hold back with presenting the issues black people faced at the time. This paired with the take-no-crap attitude of Lincoln is a match made in heaven, as it can lead to some colourful moments.

The story focuses on Lincoln’s falling out with the local Mafia and him slowly taking over 1968 New Bordeaux, a re-imagined version of New Orleans. To present the story to the player is a series of master-crafted cutscenes from the perspectives of law enforcement and reporters covering the case. These are so well done that I didn’t find myself ever wanting to skip them, and I’m usually the type to get bored and skip cutscenes with hopes of catching up on the story during gameplay (yes…I’m one of those). In spite of repetitive gameplay, which will be further discussed below, Mafia 3  is well worth playing for the story alone.

However, as a disclaimer at the beginning of the game explains, and I have touched on briefly, the game doesn’t hold back and presents social issues of the time period rather accurately. This means there’s plenty of use of racial slurs and other hurtful language, so it may be best keeping this is in mind while playing. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem that the developers just wanted to come off as ‘edgy’.

Image showing a screenshot of one of the game's cutscenes featuring Father James

The Gameplay

Overall, it’s safe to say that the game is okay to play. Opting for the generic cover-shooter formula as well as the addition of basic/generic stealth mechanics, there was little room for error as it wasn’t at all imaginative or ground-breaking.

My biggest issue in terms of gameplay has got to be the stealth mechanics though. I am a huge fan of games such as Metal Gear Solid and Splinter cell, but this is not on their level at all. Most encounters in this game can be easily completed by simply crouching behind a waist-high wall, whistling and pressing the melee prompt when an enemy is in range. In all honesty, this rather ruins the pacing of the game, as the shooting is surprisingly fun; but why would players get into a large gunfight when there’s a much easier alternative?

As for the aforementioned shooting, in the rare occasion that I would have to use it, it felt pretty solid. Slow-motion aiming wasn’t initially present in the original, and was added in a later update. But having it available straight away in the remaster really improves the third-person combat and allows for some rather satisfying kill-chains. This combined with a larger assortment of guns than the previous games means that, although ultimately pointless because of the whistling and punching method, the gunfights are fun to get into. Another improvement is that you also can’t shoot through solid surfaces solely because your camera perspective sees past them, so that’s a bonus.

Now for the main issue. As with Mafia 2: Definitive Edition, this remaster introduces more issues into the game. These are mainly rendering issues, admittedly, but not just the type that makes the world look like it’s made out of play-dough. If you travel fast enough in a car, it is actually possible to get to locations well before the game has time to catch up, which can lead to some frustrating moments like this one:

GIF of a bridge just ceasing to exist and player falling through it.

The Summary:

Mafia 3 is kind of like a guilty pleasure of mine. Despite many issues that have been present since its initial launch, I’ve still achieved 100% of the achievements and I’m not even ashamed. Presenting players with an engaging story, coupled with okay gameplay, I can recommend picking this up. As it is remastered on the same generation of console, the digital version of the game has been updated on the digital storefronts it’s available on, so there’s no having to buy a more expensive version purely for the remastered edition.

Should I Buy the Remastered Trilogy?

If you own the original games, no. Although the first Mafia game hasn’t had its remaster released yet, it’s not looking too bright when looking at the other two definitive editions. For the convenience of having them all in the same place, I’d consider it. And if you haven’t played the series until now, it’s definitely a series I would recommend, so it’s worth picking up the trilogy for one fixed price if you wish to get into it.


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Mafia: Trilogy

£49.99
6.5

Score

6.5/10

Pros

  • 3 great games
  • Beautiful graphical improvements
  • Engaging stories
  • All 3 games in one package - not having to go between systems

Cons

  • More issues than original releases
  • Higher price than older copies (obviously)
  • Gameplay constantly interrupted by gliches
  • Pay full price when one part of the trilogy is yet to be released

A few boring details for your reading pleasure.

I’m someone who plays games as a hobby. The media has carried me through many difficult times; serving as a distraction from real-world problems. Chances are that if you’re here, you can relate to that at least.

Now, the boring stuff. I live in the north of England, studied maths and further maths in college, to then go on and study psychology in university.

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