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Game Play Review Video

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.

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Game Play Games Review Video

A Review of Mafia III

Note: There may be some spoilers, nothing explicit, but some aspects of the game will be revealed. If you do not mind, continue reading.

I have just finished the game Mafia III. While I do not normally do reviews of games, I thought that I would for this one.

There is one thing that modern media has learned is that making sequels are usually a good bet. One of the downsides to sequels is that they are not always good. As a matter of fact, it is often that the second in a trilogy is bad. There are exceptions to this general rule, but they are few and far between.

One place where this is the case is the Mafia series of games. The latest installment, Mafia III. The original Mafia game came out in 2002. The sequel came out in 2010. The original Mafia game followed Tommy Angelo as he made his way up through the Mafia in Lost Heaven. The time period for Mafia is the 1930s.

Mafia II followed a new character, Vito Scaletta, as he traverses through the 1940s and early 1950s mafia scene in Empire Bay with his best friend Joe Barbaro. As one might expect, Vito makes his way up through the ranks of the Mafia holding onto Empire Bay.

Mafia III takes this trope and puts a slightly different twist on it. In Mafia III you are Lincoln Clay, newly arrived home from his tour in Vietnam, he comes back to find that the life he knew, and those he cares about, are all in trouble. Lincoln takes it upon himself to make sure everything gets back to normal. In order to do make this happen, he must take on those that are running, and thus crippling, New Bordeaux.

Features

Throughout the game you will see cutscenes, some of these are in the same time frame as the game that you play through, while others are past this time. All of thes cut scenes add to overall story and add some depth to different characters throughout the game, as well as the overall story as a whole.

Combat

As one might expect with an open-world first person shooter, combat is a primary mechanism in the game. This is one aspect that has been greatly improved over the previous Mafia games. You are provided with a variety of weapons to choose from. During the game, I ended up using two weapons for a vast majority of the time.

Assistance

You are able to get assistance from others within the game. This is a key aspect of the game, and the assistance they provide is greatly needed. Use them as you will.

Collectibles

Many games have an aspect where you can collect different items. Mafia III is no different. There are six total types of collectibles, with a significant number of a few of them. The collectibles do not add anything to the story itself, but they are a set of nice side missions to go ahead and complete.

The Good

There are many things that are great about Mafia III. The story lines makes sense. The world is completely open and you are able to perform the missions in any order you choose, which is a nice touch. This means that the game is not one that is on rails.

There is a significant amount of attention to detail that is paid with the game. This ranges not only from the moon bouncing off of the cars, but also to the vibration of the controller changing when your drive over different surfaces.

The scenery of the game is spectacular. As you play the game, you can tell that the artists designed the game to be as realistic as possible iven the constraints that they were under.

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The sound in the game is done quite well. There are little touches that add to the experience. The game is done in stereo, meaning that if voices are to the left of you, you hear it in the left headphone; it is the same for the right. This applies not only to characters, but also to cars. For instance, the rear right tire on a car I was driving popped and I was driving only on the rim. The sparking and grinding of that tire was only audible in the right headphone. It is nice touches like these that make the game that much more enjoyable.

Crazy Flips

With a game that spans a vast distance, it is necessary to have vehicles to get from one place to another. Mafia III has a variety of cars that can help you get o your destination. While driving, it nigh impossible to drive perfectly and never hit anything. However, when you do go ahead and hit something you may be able to do some spectacular flips, which adds some fun into the game.

Epic Fails

Here are a few of my own epic fails throughout the game.

The Bad

All games have issues, particularly when they are first released. Due to the way that manufacturing and shipping works, games generally also have day-one updates. Mafia III is no exception. Below is a list of the issues that I encountered while playing the game. Some make the game play worse than others do.

Freezing

When I was playing, the game would just randomly freeze. Now, this is not necessarily bad, because it would catch up, but it was quite annoying; particularly if I was in a sticky situation and it froze.

Similarly, the game would outright crash. Several times, this lead to me losing progress in the game. A few times the game crashed when it was saving. The game states when you start it up, not to quit the game or turn off the console while it is saving. I am glad that it did not cause any issues. However, one can perceive a lack of caring from the developer, not necessarily due to the crashes, but due to the lack of fixing of the bugs, even a couple of weeks after the game was released.

Sound

Besides the crashes, there are times when resuming a game that there would be absolutely no sound. In some cases it’s not an issue, but if you are trying to go through a cutscene, there would be no sound, making it rather difficult to understand what was going on, if you did not enable captions. Strangely, when this occurred, it also meant that the vibrations that should occur did not, meaning that there was no force feedback.

I was able to determine this was the game and not the entire system because if I went through the system it would have sound all throughout the user interface.

Car Failures

mafia-iii-car-glitch

While we can expect games to be perfect, we all know that it not possible for all games to be perfected. In Mafia III there are some spectacular failures of cars throughout the game, at least as I experienced them.

Side Mission Failures

The biggest issues that I encountered while playing the game was actually when I attempted to do some side missions, but they experienced glitches. This is not just once or twice, but consistently. For one set of side missions I was not able to perform them. Below is an example of some of the side mission issues that I ran across.

Missing Weapons

At one point throughout the game, I managed to lose access to an explosive, without any way of getting this back. Quitting the game and logging back in did not show the explosive, yet, it said that my inventory of that explosive was full.

mafia-iii-missing-weapon

Duplicate Characters

There were a couple of times when I finished side missions that I ran into a glitch where some characters were appearing twice. This happened more than once. Here are a couple of examples.

mafia-iii-duplicate-character-02

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Improvements

No game is ever perfect. Despite all that is good with Mafia III there are some things that can be improved. The items below that can be improved do not fall into the “bad” items above.

The biggest area for improvement, as I see, is stealth mode. Being able to use stealth is great, however there is only one option for stealth. After a while, this can become quite repetitive. It would be nice to have a couple of different options for stealth mode.

Tips

I do have some tips for playing the game. Beware though, that some of these may be spoilers, and I have tried to remain as spoiler free as possible up to this point. If you want to view the tips, click here. Otherwise, you can skip to the conclusion.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Mafia III is a great game, despite the flaws in the game itself. The artwork, sound, and gameplay are all done very well. The tiny touches of the light, with the changes when going over different materials all add to the experience.

The issues with the game are ones that badly need to be addressed and are mentioned above. The constant freezing and quitting being the two most egregious issues.

The game will provide you will plenty to do and give you hours of hours of game play, even with all of the issues. If you are a fan of open world first person shooters, then Mafia III is definitely a game that you should check out.