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All Mafia games ranked from worst to best

The best titles to embody the noir aspect of storytelling in video games (Image via 2K Games)
The best titles to embody the noir aspect of storytelling in video games (Image via 2K Games)

The Mafia franchise is one of the most underrated open-world titles to have been released in the last couple of decades.

The open-world genre houses many spectacular games from different sub-genres with fascinating and varied settings. These range from fantastical role-playing games such as Skyrim, The Witcher 3, and Elden Ring to sci-fi futuristic action-adventure titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs: Legion.

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However, the genre rarely taps into the old-school noir setting. The most notable titles that embody the noir aspect of storytelling and world-building are linear single-player titles such as Max Payne and Disco Elysium.

However, the Mafia titles from 2K Games are a rare exception. These games are prime examples of noir open-world titles that are a joy to explore and get immersed in.

The first title in the series came out in 2002, developed by 2K Czech. The company later merged into Hangar 13, which currently holds the rights to the franchise's development. Over the years, the series has evolved into a trilogy of games and a superbly made remake of the 2002 original.

Although none of the games in the series are terrible, they do offer their own unique experience with varying degrees of quality in terms of gameplay, aesthetics, and overall experience.

Note: This article is subjective and reflects the author's opinions.


Ranking the Mafia games in terms of the quality of their noir setting, gameplay, and more

4) Mafia 3

Mafia 3 is, by no metric, a bad game. However, the game is deeply flawed when it comes to technical polish, which bogs down the overall quality of the game.

At launch, the title suffered from a plethora of issues, such as erratic performance on both consoles and PCs, glitches, buggy AI, rendering issues, and many more.

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These issues were so severe that the game was borderline unplayable for some players. Apart from a bevy of technical issues, the gameplay was also severely handicapped and a noticeable downgrade from the previous two titles.

Most of the missions in the third installment of the series are boring and repetitive. These missions require players to infiltrate a gang hideout, lure their target to a designated location and assassinate them.

Going through the missions the first few times is really enthralling. However, once the game starts repeating the same mission structure for the entire length of the main campaign, it becomes really tedious.

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As mentioned previously, Mafia 3 is not a bad game. The gameplay, although repetitive, is really fun, with satisfying shooting and driving mechanics. Not to mention, the title is one of the most visually appealing open-world titles of its time, only surpassed by the phenomenal remake of the original game.

The only things that hold the game back are its technical polish, or lack thereof, and its monotonous gameplay structure.


3) Mafia

The original game was nothing short of a masterpiece at the time of its launch. However, with some really great follow-up titles over time, it has somewhat lost its charm.

The title is built on the idea of delivering an early Hollywood-era crime thriller-esque action-adventure experience to players. It is much more story-focused, with great characters that are fun to watch in the many cutscenes.

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Mafia oozes the atmosphere of the 1930s, with a beautifully recreated city and the characters inhabiting it reflecting the time period.

The 2002 original's gameplay, however, is a bit of a hit or miss, which is understandable given its age. Actions such as driving and shooting, which are key aspects of an action-adventure title, feel awkward and stiff. Another big flaw of the game is its horrendous checkpoint system, which is akin to the early Grand Theft Auto titles.


2) Mafia II

Mafia II embodies the true essence of a noir thriller. Its plot is one of the most engaging and immersive stories in gaming.

Much like the previous title, the sequel is set in the mid-1940s and early-1950s America, with gorgeous architecture and style that appropriately reflect the time period.

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The game delivers on everything that made the first game a classic while improving on its many shortcomings, including the moment-to-moment gameplay. Shooting and driving, which comprises the majority of the game's quest objectives, are executed flawlessly.

Another major highlight of the game is its original soundtrack, which, to this day, remains one of the best in gaming. The sequel, however, was much more linear than the original, which resulted in a shorter but more focused main campaign.


1) Mafia: Definitive Edition

Mafia: Definitive Edition is essentially a full-blown remake of the 2002 original that started the series.

The game is built using the same engine as Mafia 3, but there are some major improvements made to the lighting to match the 1930s time period of the original title.

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The Definitive Edition retains the same story without any major deviations from the original game's script. The gameplay, for the most part, is identical to the 2002 original title, with improvements done to streamline the controls in order to match the standards of a modern third-person action game.

The game did add a few things to the experience to differentiate itself from the original. These include the addition of motorbikes and an expanded story that allows for a more in-depth character-building of the protagonist Thomas "Tommy" Angelo.

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The game also has its own original soundtrack, which perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of the 1930s.

The remake basically rectifies all the inconsistencies and shortcomings of the 2002 original, making it the best Mafia title for players to get immersed in.

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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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