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Mafia Series: Definitive Editions: A Review

There has been a trend in the recent years where it seems like new intellectual property titles have not been as numerous as in days past, or maybe it just seems that way. The modern computer-gaming era is now around 40 years old. 

One thing in life that is quite powerful is nostalgia, and gaming nostalgia is one of the most powerful pulls. 

With so much gaming history, there has been a variety of series that have started on one platform but have made their way to another. Similarly, there are a number of platform-specific games that have been re-issued for a later generation of the same console. Sometimes, there are games that are re-issued even for the same console generation.

I have lost count of the number of times that I have purchased versions of some games. The list that I have lost track of are Wolfenstein 3D, Doom I, Doom II, and Duke Nukem 3D. I would not be surprised if I have purchased versions of all of these games for PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. I know I have purchased multiple copies of Wolfenstein 3D just for the PC. 

There is one series that fits all three of these instances, at least for some users, and that series is the Mafia series. 

A Brief History of the Mafia Series

The first Mafia game was originally released in 2002 for Microsoft Windows and was ported to both the Playstation 2 and the the original Xbox in 2004. I originally played Mafia on the PC.

The sequel, Mafia II, was released in 2010 for the console successors, Playstation 3 and  Xbox 360, as well as Windows, and this time on OS X. I played this one on the Xbox 360, and due to backward compatibility it is also available on the Xbox One, in its original Xbox 360 gameplay.

The third in the series, Mafia III, was released in 2016 for the current console generation, the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, as well as Windows. I wrote a review of Mafia III back in 2016. You can read that review at https://www.waynedixon.com/2016/10/30/a-review-of-mafia-iii/.

Reissuing Games

One trend within the gaming industry is that when a game is initially released, it may be just the core game. However, as time progresses additional add-ons are released. After some time, a game may be re-issued. Often, these re-issues include all of the add-ons and purchases.

Typically, when games are re-issued, the story and gameplay do not change. However, that is not necessarily the case with the Mafia series.

Definitive Editions

Each of the three Mafia games now has a version called the “Definitive Edition”. The Definitive Edition, in this context, is more than just a re-issuing of the game. The “Definitive Edition”, in this context, means that this is what the developers want to be considered the canonical version. 

Definitive editions, and reissues in general, offer players not only an upgraded visual experience, but also an opportunity to get additional gamer score because all of the achievements are new, except in the case of Mafia III. Since Mafia III was released on the Xbox One, the core game is the same, therefore the Mafia III game is the same.

Now, onto the reviews, starting with the first in the series, Mafia. These reviews will be shorter than the full review I did for Mafia III in 2016.


Mafia: Definitive Edition

If you played the original Mafia and you play the Definitive Edition, you will definitely notice some differences in the game. Not just in terms of graphics, because they have been rendered in 4K, but in the actual story.  The changes are not that noticeable, but they are there.

Because this is a “definitive edition”, it comes as no surprise that the developers decided to change the story a bit. I am not sure if the changes are good or bad, but they are what they are. I will not spoil the changes, but know that they are there.

I can tell that the developers spent significant time on this game. How can I tell, because I did not have any issues with the game. I do not recall any glitches. No lost audio, no game crashes, or anything like that. Which cannot be said for the other games, but more on that in those sections.

The Story

Mafia is set in the 1930s in a fictional city called Lost Heaven, which is somewhat modeled off of Chicago. This is easily noticed with the “L” trains throughout the city. And no, they are not “El” for elevated trains. They are the “L” trains. But that is a separate rant.

As mentioned earlier, you play as Tommy Angelo, a cab driver just trying to earn a living. One night, while taking a break you run across two mafia members, Paulie and Sam, who compel his assistance with escaping. After a successful escape, Tommy begins working with Paulie and Sam’s boss, Mr. Salieri, and everything escalates from there.

Not everything goes well for Tommy though, he starts to do some side jobs, and not all of them sanctioned by the Don. This makes for an interesting story line.

Side Missions

There are many common aspects to a variety of games. One of these items is the idea of side missions. Side missions are not ones that are required to get through the main storyline. One of the side missions that is available within Mafia is the accumulation of cars. These cars can be obtained by finding ringing phone booths throughout Lost Heaven and performing the tasks given to you.

Game Play

Mafia: Definitive Edition changes some aspects of the original game. Most notably, the combat tactics are rebuilt and more like the more modern Mafia III game. This will be helpful for more modern gamers. If you want to relive the original, you can play with the “Classic Difficulty”. This will make the game much more like the original.

Here is a video of a car within the game, called the Crazy Horse, doing a jump onto the roof of a building.

Unique Gameplay Mechanics

Mafia is a game that comprises a lot of driving. Sometimes you need to grab a car. In most games there are only two options, the car is already open, or you smash a window. Mafia, and Mafia II, have a different mechanic; that ability to One of the gameplay mechanics in Mafia is the ability to pick locks on cars.

The type of lock depends on the type of car, but the mechanic is all the same. You have to pick each of the lock tumblers. The fancier the car, the more tumblers there are to pick. As is the case, you may get caught by the police and then trouble can begin.

There is a game mode, called “Classic Difficulty” that will allow you to play as the original gameplay. What this means for the police is that they will actually pull you over for everything. This includes speeding, running through lights, hitting pedestrians, hitting cars, and almost any other infraction you can think of.

This can make for some interesting gameplay. In the Definitive Edition, you can select how much you want the police to pay attention.

Closing Thoughts on Mafia: Definitive Edition

Mafia: Definitive Edition stays very true to the original Mafia. Some bits of the story have been changed, but those changes do not detract from the overall game. The uniqueness of the lock picking is a nice touch and does offer a unique aspect to the game.

The upscaling of the graphics to 4K does allow the game to fit nicely into today’s modern systems. Given that the game is such a faithful representation of the original, many modern gamers may become annoyed with the more antiquated combat tactics and some of the game play may be a bit “old” in their minds, but only if they play the “Classic Difficulty” mode.

Next, let us move onto the sequel, Mafia II.


Mafia II: Definitive Edition

Mafia II was originally released in 2010 and is set in the 1940s and 1950s, not long after the setting of Mafia. Instead of being in Lost Heaven, this game takes place in Empire Bay. And you do not play as Tommy Angelo, instead you play as Vito Scaletta.

The game starts off in Italy during World War II. During this first level you learn how to play the game, use guns, maneuver, and other aspects. Once you have completed this level, you then have Vito returning home on furlough where he learns that his family is having some issues, specifically that his late father left his family in debt to a loan shark. Now, Vito must help his family repay the debts.

Vito talks to his childhood friend Joe who helps him get some additional cash by getting him in connection with Mike Bruski, who needs particular cars. Eventually, this escalates and Vito begins working with someone Joe knows, Henry, who is part of the Clemente crime family.

The work Vito does with Joe and Henry does get him enough to repay his father’s debts, but it only escalates from there.

Side Missions

Mafia II, just like its predecessor, contains the ability to do side missions. The side missions allowed in the game include the ability to deliver cars. Depending on the car, and its destination, you can quickly earn cash. This can be done at almost any time, with some caveats, but only once they are unlocked for you.

One type of side mission that is often available for games is collectibles. Mafia II is no different. You can collect a couple of different collectible things that you can attempt to get. The first of these is a set of playboy magazines. These are scattered throughout Lost Heaven, and some can only be obtained during missions.

The second collectible is Wanted Posters. These are scattered throughout Lost Heaven and are more easily found while roaming around Lost Heaven. There are 189 of these in the definitive edition. This is up from 159 that were included in the standard game.

Some Interesting Experiences

Here are tow examples of some interesting game play. The first one is a car driving along a wall, with the second being a cool explosion.

Game Play Issues

While I was playing the Mafia II: Definitive Edition I had significant issues. The game would constantly crash, resulting in lost progress. Furthermore, audio would just randomly not work, or characters would not trigger their cutscenes. This is quite disappointing given that the game was re-built from the ground up.

Here is an example of one of the many glitches I experienced while playing.

Included Content

The original release of Mafia II had some additional downloadable content released after the original game. The content included the following:

  • The Betrayal of Jimmy
  • Jimmy’s Vendetta
  • Joe’s Adventures

All three of these are included in the Definitive Edition of Mafia II. Just as is the case with the first Mafia game, Mafia II: Definitive Edition does provide the ability to get additional gamer score, so if you like to get additional score for a game you already know, you cannot go wrong.

Closing Thoughts on Mafia II: Definitive Edition

Mafia II: Definitive Edition is a decent rebuild of the original. Even though it does have significant bugs, it is still worth playing if you have not done so. The storyline is interesting and it does allow you a bit more freedom to do things without being too nagging about the next mission. If you want to get some achievements, then the collectibles will definitely help in this, but be prepared for a slog to find all of the Wanted Posters.

Now, onto Mafia III: Definitive Edition.


Mafia III: Definitive Edition

As mentioned earlier, I already wrote up a review of Mafia III, which you can read at https://www.waynedixon.com/2016/10/30/a-review-of-mafia-iii/. The Definitive Edition of Mafia III does not modify the story like the other two games. However, it is expanded a bit. This expansion is done through the downloadable content, and with the definitive edition it is all in a single package. The base game is the exact same as the one released in 2016, including some of the same problems.

Included Content

As is the case with Mafia II, Mafia III: Definitive Edition is more than just the base game. In fact it includes the following content, in addition to the base game:

  • Family Kick-Back (Gun Pack)
  • Judge, Jury & Executioner Weapons Pack (Gun Pack)
  • Faster, Baby! (Additional missions)
  • Stones Unturned (Additional missions)
  • Sign of the Times (Additional missions)

I will admit then when I was playing through the Definitive Edition I thought the game was taking a lot longer than the first time through, and it was. The reason for this is that these additional missions are available where they were not at first. These additional mission packs are nice additions and fit right into the overall narrative quite well.

Game Play Issues

While some of the issues that I experienced during my time playing have been fixed, there are still some issues, even  four years later. To me, this is unacceptable. The developer has had four years to fix these issues, but obviously they have not. Just today, as I write this, I had a hard crash of the game where I did a jump off of a ramp, landed, and the game just crashed.

The biggest issues that I have experienced include game crashes, severe slow downs, to the point where the controls stop responding properly. I have also experienced instances where cars get stuck and cannot be moved no matter what. There is even this video where I am driving along and just randomly hit an invisible barrier, when there is not one on the screen. 

One issue that seems to be new is that while driving the car will just randomly stop responding to pressing the accelerator. It will just stop dead in the middle of the road and it will not respond at all. I am not sure what is happening in these instances, but it has occurred more than once.

The last issue that I have experienced is that some non-playable characters, who are with you on a job, will just randomly get out of the car. This happened more than once and I was baffled both times.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, the Definitive Editions of the Mafia series are pretty good games, even though a couple of them are full of crashes and weird glitches. If you have played any of them before, and enjoyed them these versions will not only bring you back to when you played them previously.

If you have never played any of the Mafia series, I recommend getting the Trilogy and playing all of them. It is cheaper to get all three of them in the trilogy than it is to purchase them each individually. The entire trilogy is $60, which comes to $20 per game and overall that is a pretty good value. You can view a lot more media at the developer’s website, mafiagame.com.