Mafia for free is an offer you can't refuse

The Mafia key art.
(Image credit: 2K)

2K's golden goose is the Grand Theft Auto series, but in one of those quirks of fate the publisher also ended up eventually acquiring one of the only series that did a good job of offering an alternative. The original Mafia, released in 2002, was an early GTA competitor and many would say the best by a country mile: set in Illinois in the 1930s, the game followed the story of Tommy Angelo as he rose through the ranks of the Salieri mafia family.

Mafia always had a grittier tone than GTA, which in the same year was releasing the stupendously good but very neon Vice City, and it did a better job than those early 3D GTAs of telling a story. I don't want to oversell it here, because GTA was always the best game of this type around, but in a sea of competition this was one of the only sharks.

Publisher 2K has announced that, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the game's release, it will be making players an offer they can't refuse: Mafia will be free to all on Steam from September 1 to September 5.

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This is the original version of the game, not the Definitive Edition 2K released in 2020, but honestly I prefer the original. There are some issues with it, such as losing music due to copyright issues, but this is such a beloved title that it's well-served by its community and mod scene, to the extent there are detailed and useful guides on Steam to get the best out of it.

The freebie will be available from 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST on September 1, and will revert to its usual price at the same time on September 5. You really can't go wrong with this one. 2K doesn't think so either: after a long hiatus, it's announced that a Mafia 4 is in the works, even if it's "a few years" away.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."