Surprisingly, not even a month ago, the official Twitter account of the Mafia series was back active. Shortly after came the announcement of the return of the complete trilogy on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and today we are here to review Mafia II: Definitive Edition.
At the moment, in addition to the second chapter, Mafia III: Definitive Edition is already available within the Collection, which has not undergone major changes compared to the original release. The progenitor of the series, however, will be released in the second half of August.
What is it like to return to Empire Bay ten years after our last visit? Did D3T's remastering work live up to expectations? We just have to dive back into 1943 and into the turbulent life of Vito Scaletta to find out.
Upgrade in rank
Vito Scaletta is an Italian boy who emigrated with his family to Empire Bay when he was just a child. The much-pursued American dream immediately proved fallacious, forcing Vito to immediately resort to alternative ways to raise the money needed to survive.
After being arrested following a theft, he manages to avoid prison by being sent to fight in Sicily, his homeland, during the Second World War. After several months, and following an injury, he manages to return to Empire Bay in 1943, and this is where the real story begins.
Not even time to return, and Vito Scaletta must again resort to crime to try to relieve the family of debt caused by his father, as well as find a way to have enough money for a better life.
Thanks to his friend Joe Barbaro he immediately begins to get busy, coming to work for leading figures in the local mafia.
The plot is undoubtedly one of the greatest assets of Mafia II: the main characters are well written, as well as the events involving Vito Scaletta and his rise in the ranks of organized crime. Everything is seasoned with aatmosfera black well rendered both by the facts narrated and visually, and this feel accompanies us throughout the story.
In this remastered edition the story has remained completely unchanged, and the only difference from the original release is the inclusion of the three DLCs, which contribute to increasing the longevity of the title which is not particularly long.
A little open world
The shooting phases haven't aged very well, and are quite woody by modern standards. As for the guide, however, there are no particular notes to make: it is quite pleasant to travel the streets of Empire Bay, if it were not for the open world offered by the game.
It 'sopenworld, in fact, the part that left us most perplexed. Ten years ago it was already too limited for those times, and in 2020 we cannot but reiterate how much it is empty. The development team has decided not to make any changes, neither implementing any secondary missions, nor trying to revive the streets of Empire Bay a little with some more activities.
This is truly a wasted opportunity: if he had aimed higher, like other remastered released in this period (see Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition), the experience provided would have been much better.
What can change in ten years
The side on which D3T has focused is the technical one: the models of the main characters have been retouched and the lighting system has been completely revised, making the rather pleasant first impact.
The problem comes by continuing with the hours of play: the same care was not put into the models of the secondary characters and in some details of the game world, all of which exude 2010 from all the pixels.
On the audio profile, the original voiceovers have been re-proposed, both in Italian and in English, which are well done especially as regards the main characters.
The soundtrack remains impressed from the first minutes, and contributes to creating the noir atmosphere that is the background to the events of the game.
Also, since the release they have been reported technical problems of various kinds, from glitches during cutscenes, through endless Chapter 14 uploads to dubbing sync problems. While playing on PC fortunately we only encountered the last of these problems, and mostly only with the Italian dubbing rather than with the English one.
D3T and 2K Games are already working on solving these problems, which are undermining the experience of many players on both PC and consoles.
Mafia II: Definitive Edition is definitely a great way to approach the series for the first time, thanks to the intriguing and well-written plot, and you can easily turn a blind eye to some not-so-aged gameplay components.
The problems encountered from a technical point of view are not such as to ruin the experience, at least as regards the PC version based on what we have tried, but in case you are not convinced in the purchase a corrective patch is in the pipeline.
It is also an excellent preparation, together with the third chapter, in view of the arrival of the remake of the progenitor of the series, which will be available starting from August.