Xbox One, PS4, PC
October 7, 2016
Hangar 13, 2K Czech
Mafia 3 is the latest installment in the Mafia series from Hangar 13, published by 2K games. Set in 1968 in the fictional adaptation of New Orleans, New Bordeaux, it follows the story of Lincoln Clay. Returning from Vietnam and re-engaging with the black mafia, Lincoln’s world is thrown upside down when his mob family is brutally murdered around him. After “recovering”, his sole purpose is revenge. No one is safe from Lincoln’s dream of becoming the new top dog.
I found the introductory/ tutorial part of the game a little clunky, mostly due to some of the AI interactions (especially with the police). I had to restart one particular segment of it several times, but after changing my traditional stealthy style of gameplay to something a little more aggressive, I had no problems. The pace changed dramatically once this segment was over, and the HUGE open world of Bordeaux opened up.
Likewise, the graphics of Mafia 3 were a little perplexing at first. Some of the character animations seemed a bit outdated compared to other open world titles released as of late, even though the cut scene animations are quite good. The lighting effects are beautiful, but sometimes contribute to a blinding effect that is particularly dangerous while driving. Having said that, I really enjoyed this stark parallel to real life driving, and the cars in Mafia 3 are gorgeous.
The basic structure of the game pits Lincoln against the various mob factions of New Bordeaux. This is achieved by doing enough financial damage to their operations to draw their subordinates out, face them head on and move on to their bosses. The side missions to do so are a little repetitive, but the psychological premise is sound and well conveyed. Once you’ve done enough damage in this way, the missions to take on the mob bosses themselves unlock, and really provide the icing on the cake in the conquest to take over the entire map.
One of the things I was most looking forward to was the interplay between Lincoln’s conquest and the distribution of power to his Underbosses, the key figures who maintain his hold on the districts. A big claim made by the developers was the risk of angering these people if the balance of power is upset, but I have yet to see that happen. Other than deliberately assigning all subsequent districts to one person, I’m not sure how this can be achieved.
“Mafia 3’s core strength, for me, is the way in which it depicts racism in the 60’s against the setting of New Bordeaux.”
Mafia 3’s core strength, for me, is the way in which it depicts racism in the 60’s against the setting of New Bordeaux. Though Lincoln isn’t the deepest of lead characters, he is loathed not only for the cause of his mission, but also based on the colour of his skin. In the first 3 hours or so of gameplay you are faced with some truly horrific situations that all stem from the ingrained oppression of black people, and you feel it while playing the game, which is a real credit to the developers. As far as inclusion in gaming goes, this is definitely one of the strongest examples I have seen this year.
- Capturing districts your way lends itself to a variety of play styles
- An enormous open world to explore
- Criminal psychology and racism explored beautifully
- Graphics a little outdated
- Somewhat repetitive grind quests
After my time playing Mafia 3 before this review, the highest praise I have for the title comes from the fact that I will definitely keep playing it through. I have yet to experience a single glitch on PS4, despite reports. Likewise, claims that the world is too big fall short for me given just how much there is to do. To be fair, there are a lot of fetch quests ingrained in the progression, so fair warning for those not prepared to grind those out. For open world games, part of the struggle is creating believable immersion, and after zooming around the bayou by boat or combing the suburbs on foot to hunt down some truly terrible people, I love what Mafia 3 has achieved.