Mafia III is set roughly 20 years after the events of the fantastic Mafia II and no longer is Vita Scaletta our main protagonist, now the year is 1968 and Vietnam vet Lincoln Clay takes the lead set in the fictional city of New Bordeaux (influenced from New Orleans).  Upon returning from Vietnam, Lincoln protects his family from an organised gang of Haitian’s who had put his families livelihood at risk and by doing so, he impresses Italian mob boss Sal Marcano by sending a clear message and dealing with them in a brutal fashion.  This leads to an opportunity to perform a heist on the CIA to rob the Louisiana Federal Reserve with Sal’s son, Giorgi.

 

Lincoln is offered to lead the black mob of New Bordeaux by Sal, but this means taking over his father’s crime syndicate.  Lincoln being the loyal family type, graciously refuses the offer, which didn’t go down to well with Sal Marcano and its arguably an offer that Lincoln should have not refused.  Sadly, it wasn’t Lincoln that had paid the ultimate price for the refusal, as Sal Marcano assassinates Lincoln’s family before his very eyes and Lincoln himself was shot in the head and left for dead.

 

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However, angels were obviously watching over Lincoln as he by some miracle survived the gunshot to the head, a mistake that the Italian mob would soon regret.  This sparks Lincoln’s revenge mission to reap his own form of vengeful justice against those involved that murdered his family in cold blood.  But in order to do so, he must enlist the help of his own Mafia of mob misfits and he’ll stop at nothing to bring Sal Marcano to his blood soaked knees!

 

Game series such as Mafia have always tried to get a slice of the GTA market, but while many “clones” have failed, with the help of its era setting, it’s managed to standalone on its own two feet.  Mafia II especially managed to be a fantastic game in its own right, it was the only game made me feel like I was playing the in the same universe as my all-time favourite Mafia movie, Goodfella’sMafia II had an interested setting, a captivating story and characters that you felt invested in.  I enjoyed it that much, that its one of the handful of games that I’ve finished on both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  Sadly, despite it seemingly trying ever so hard, the third game in this series fails in just about every aspect that made me love Mafia II so much.

 

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For starters, even though  the missions eventually become very repetitive, for the first few hours, the game was somewhat enjoyable.  For the most part, the game requires you to take over territories of New Bordeaux, to do this, you have to take out game hideouts or shut down brothels for example.  Eventually when you’ve caused enough financial damage to the gang organisation that runs that said territory, you will gain the intention of the gang boss.  This will likely require you to return to a familiar location to put him to an end or you could in-fact enlist him to earn the pennies for your own crime syndicate.

 

In some ways, it reminds me of how you takeover boroughs of London in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, which will eventually result in fisty-cuffs with the boss of that borough.  AC: Syndicate did have an element of repetitiveness, but nowhere near to the extent of Mafia III.  There literally must be only a handful of sub-mission variants to partake in, which lead to you taking over that particular territory.  This will carry on pretty much throughout the entirety of the game.  This element of repetitiveness is further added, by the recycled combat animations and clunky melee combat.  This might not seem much of a big deal, but when you take down countless gang bosses, that novelty of those animations also quickly wear thin.

 

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Mafia III is also a contradiction of visual presentation.  For starters, the way in which the game is presented in a documentary format with characters of the game speaking about Lincoln Clay in a past tense is brilliant.  Likewise, the facial animation is certainly going to be among the best you’ll see and despite the plot failing to captivate me as I hoped, the cut-scenes are fantastic and one of the few saving graces in its attempts to tell a story.  This in fairness has a lot to do with the quality of work performed by the voice-cast.

 

However, if the repetitive gameplay wasn’t enough to let this game down, the actual in-game visuals during gameplay also plays its sad part in Mafia III’s downfall.  Oddly, despite having fantastic visuals during its cut-scenes, the in-game visuals are nowhere near to that standard and at times they look rather grainy.  Then to top that all off, the game is rife with odd bugs and glitches, which contributes in breaking you away from the immersion this game so desperately needs.  An example of two would be that the daylight has some weird lighting effects, going from dark to light constantly.  The game also has some horrible mirror animations, which looks like something straight out of a horror movie.

 

Thankfully, it is worth noting that Mafia III does have an absolutely sublime soundtrack, with some of the most iconic tunes from the 1960’s era.  So I suppose at least that’s something else this game has done right.  It’s just a dam shame that despite Mafia III having a great presentation, soundtrack and a well supported voice-cast, it fails where it really matters, with its gameplay.  It’s an oddball in many ways, because all the trailers I had seen prior to the release of Mafia III got me excited to play the game and when you look at it objectively, even from a non-fans perspective, it has all the ingredients to be a fantastic game.  So what on earth has gone wrong?

 

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Mafia III is by far one of the most challenging games that I’ve reviewed lately, not by its difficulty, but by just how much of a chore the game feels to play.  It’s a game that I desperately wanted to love, as I did with Mafia II.  The game as a whole just feels like a contradiction, with some plus points for sure, but it’s weighed down by far more negatives, which is a shame.  Mafia III lacks the identity of its two predecessors and has somehow managed to lose its way along its development cycle and just feels unfinished.

 

I know it’s Mafia III has had a new developer with Hanger 13, but Mafia II developers 2K Czech were brought in to help.  Though I can’t help but think that 2K Czech should have been the main developers from the start.  If there was ever a game that’s in need of a big post-release patch to fix its many issues, then Mafia III is in dire need of that attention, but it perhaps would have been much wiser to delay the game by two or three months, even if that meant missing the Christmas period (as daunting as that would be for a publisher).  The series deserves better, the fans deserve better and it pains me to say that Mafia III is most certainly an offer you can refuse.

 



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

30+ years of gaming with no signs of ever stopping. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake