The Mafia: Trilogy is available to purchase now, with the Definitive Editions of Mafia II and Mafia III playable straight away and the remake of the original Mafia launching on 28th August.
While the remake of Mafia should ultimately prove to be the highlight of the bundle, the prospect of an updated Mafia II is also an interesting one. Released in 2010, Mafia II was graphically impressive for its time and the PC version featured advanced physics via Nvidia’s PhysX.
Behind the game’s fancy exterior, however, was a compelling story that founds its protagonist embroiled in a life of crime. The only real negative aspect of the whole experience was that its open world was essentially wasted. Mafia II is focused on telling a story rather than providing players with engaging side activities. And that’s alright, providing you know it before jumping in.
Being 10 years old, booting up the original version of Mafia II today is both surprising yet jarring. It still looks pretty decent in some regards – it was amazing all those years ago, after all. Games have moved on since that time though, and so there are elements that feel distinctly old-school; like the save system, and the controls. If you were hoping that the Definitive Edition would change anything to make the game fundamentally better, I have bad news: it’s exactly the same game at its core, only now it’s a little prettier. Emphasis on ‘a little’.
Unless you were playing the two side-by-side, you probably wouldn’t guess that Mafia II had been remastered on PC. Some of the textures are sharper, and the lighting is a little improved, but there’s nothing transformative. Perhaps the greatest improvement can be seen in some of the character models; Vito Scaletta’s mother, for example, is not quite the eyesore she was previously. Overall though, aside from button prompts now being accurate for modern-day controllers, the differences between Mafia II: Definitive Edition and the original are modest on PC. Perhaps that’s why it’s a free update for those who already own the original game (which can still be bought via retailers such as CDKeys.com for a measly £6.99).
Mafia II: Definitive Edition is perhaps more interesting for console gamers, who are probably unlikely to pull out their ageing PS3s and Xbox 360s to play a decade-old title. (Though the Xbox 360 version of Mafia II is playable on Xbox One thanks to backwards compatibility.) Unfortunately I haven’t been able to try Mafia II: Definitive Edition on Xbox One yet, but having spent some time with it on PS4 Pro, my impressions of the console version are disappointing.
On PS4 Pro, Mafia II: Definitive Edition doesn’t look quite as good as the PC version at high settings, but more worryingly, its performance is all over the place. There are substantial framerate drops in places, for seemingly no reason, drawing you out of the experience and making it less fun to play. The audio is pretty terrible too, with voices sounding distorted and the volume levels being all over the place. Though that’s if you can hear anything over the din of the PS4 Pro’s fans operating at max speed. As an introduction to the Mafia series, it’s likely to prove underwhelming for many. That’s not good when Mafia II: Definitive Edition is essentially a move to drum up positive PR for the Mafia remake ahead of its launch.
If you’ve never played Mafia II and wish to do so, PC remains the best place to play it. It runs quite well, even on averagely-powered machines, and despite not having much of a visual makeover the Definitive Edition is still quite pleasant on the eyes. The PS4 version is probably best avoided for now, though. Maybe it’ll get a patch that improves the framerate and audio – if so, it’ll then be definitely worth a purchase – but until that happens, the PS4 port is quite simply dire.
Mafia: Trilogy is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC. All three games are also available to purchase separately.