Mafia 2 Definitive Edition Review

After having a surprisingly good time playing Mafia Definitive Edition, I decided to see what else the series has to offer. As luck would have it, Mafia 2 DE is also on Playstation Plus Pass. I rolled right into it. I kind of wish I hadn’t.

I didn’t enjoy Mafia 2 nearly as much as I did the first game. It wasn’t all bad, but I had enough issues that I almost didn’t finish it. Let’s get into my critique.

First, and worst, is that it is a really offensive game. The dialog is chock full of racial, ethnic and misogynist slurs. I guess I get that they were trying to capture the times (the game takes place in 1945 & 1951) but you can do that without using every offensive term you can think of, and maybe making some up to boot. It was really way over the top and this is why I almost quit playing.

In Mafia 1 you collected detective comics. In Mafia 2 you collect Playboy magazines, and every time you pick one up you get a full-screen photo of a centerfold. I didn’t really mind this, but it was a little surprising and definitely earned some eye-rolling from @partpurple. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I recognized a few of these and they were NOT from 1951.

The game is also not very stable. I had some crashes and a few glitches including some bad enough that I had to look online to find a workaround.

Vito and two women
Waiting for the “broads” to leave so Vito can go to work. The one facing the door kept walking into it without opening it

This time out you play Vito Scaletta, a real dirt bag with pretty much no redeeming qualities. As a kid he gets arrested but since he speaks Italian he is sent to the war to fight in the campaign in Sicily (this is all off-screen). When he comes back after being wounded, he immediately and with no hesitation starts taking on hit jobs. He never shows a hint of remorse over this. The story in Mafia 2 is much weaker than the one in Mafia 1. It’s really just Vito and his pal Joe making a lot of dumb decisions and murdering their way out of them.

The one giant redeeming quality in Mafia 2 is the music. It has a ton of great music (most of which wasn’t actually recorded when the game is supposed to take place, but what can ya do?). Check out the list of tracks over on the Wiki. Driving around listening to the radio was what convinced me to stick around.

I also thought the gun combat felt better in this game. Guns felt like they had more punch, and this one has regenerating health (in Mafia 1 you had to find a first aid station to heal). This made shootouts more fun (for me anyway) since you could play a little more fast and loose, knowing you could hide and regenerate health.

The melee combat still felt bad, and the driving felt good, though honestly by the end of the game I was pretty sick of driving around these streets, even WITH the great radio stations.

A line of old timey cars waiting at a traffic light
Sitting in traffic in 1945

Maybe I’m being overly hard on Mafia 2 just due to the fact that I played it immediately after Mafia 1, which may have led to some gangster fatigue, but I don’t think so. The story was meh, the dialog was so offensive it made me uncomfortable, and technically the game was rather dodgy. Also checkpoints were way too far between (this was a problem with Mafia 1 as well). At least it was quite short.

I dunno, I can’t really recommend this game unless you are just hard up for vintage centerfolds to gawk at.

Mafia Definitive Edition Review

Mafia Definitive Edition is a throw-back, in a couple of ways.

The most obvious is the story, which takes place in the early-mid 1930s, that strange part of US history where drinking a beer was illegal but grabbing a soda laced with cocaine was fine. It really does a great job of transporting you back to those days, with characters slinging old-timey slang left & right, and old music and news snippets playing on radios.

But it’s a throw-back in terms of gameplay, too. We just don’t get many games like this any more. The game plays out as a series of missions, each telling a chunk of the overall (and very decent) story. To support the strong narrative the missions are all quite linear, and while there is a pretty large city for you to drive around in, it is ‘open world’ in only the most technical sense. There’s no reason to roam around other than for fun. There’re no character levels, no crafting. There are collectibles but those are just for Achievements/bragging rights; they don’t impact gameplay at all.

There’s a lot of driving too, which I loved but might annoy others (it’s the 1930s, the cars aren’t very fast). Most missions start with you driving to the location and then after all the action you have to drive back home. It adds a certain cadence to the story and I enjoyed the driving but gamers who want all action all the time might feel frustrated. I went so far as to ‘roleplay’ my driving, trying to drive safely so as not to draw the attention of the cops on the way to or from a job. There are achievements that suggest that at times the cops will come after you for driving poorly but it never happened to me.

Driving around in Mafia
I loved driving these old cars around

As for the story, you play as Tommy Angelo (no customization available), who starts the game as a cabbie and gets involved with an organized crime family and rises through the ranks. Let’s be clear: you are playing a bad guy in this game. He has a little more of a conscience than some of his colleagues but he is still a very bad man. So keep that in mind.

I don’t usually do well playing a bad guy but for some reason I really enjoyed Mafia. Maybe it is just the era or something, or maybe Hollywood has de-sensitized me to being a bad guy in this kind of organized crime setting.

Overall I’d rate the actual gameplay somewhere around a 3 out of 5. It was fine, but not super special. It was the time period and the story that really hooked me. It also helped that it was pretty short. 10-15 hours or so. And that was enough. I was sated by the time it was done, and had no interest in replaying it or hunting Achievements.

This is the perfect kind of game to play on a subscription service (I played it via Playstation Plus Pass) or if you can get it for cheap as part of a bundle or something. Recommended as long as you like gangster stories.