With open world games becoming that of a annual regular within the gaming industry, its Important that developers are creating unique games that stand out from the crowd and offer players something they can’t find in any other game. Mafia 3 is the third instalment in a series that dates back 10 years and after Mafia 2’s success the latest entries standards were set. Before you read more I must say it exceeds my expectations, I was excited by the E3 demo but rather kept sceptical by the various E3 heroes that became villains after release due to demos misrepresenting game features so I was a little worried about Mafia, that was until I had completed the tutorial; when my views became a little more optimistic, and here’s why:
So Mafia begins with an immediately interesting story, mainly because it’s told through a series of interviews looking back on the events of the game from members of the police force, to gang members all the way to a preacher the story is told by many different characters; this is a subtle but major move by the creative team behind the story; you see just by hearing the story through different characters each with their own perspective and personality brings a freshness to each part of your play through and you will unknowingly develop bonds with certain characters that would not have been possible from just encountering them and completing some quests for them as you would in similar games such as GTA or Watch Dogs but what also sets Mafia aside from the previously named is that it plays on your emotions with its heartbreakingly brutal storyline (more on that later) and with its character’s own personal tragedies told through some of the interviews, alongside impressive voice acting that feels genuine the story feels well scripted and structured.
The story revolves around the theme of vengeance, you play as Lincoln Clay; a war veteran that has returned home from Vietnam to find his family are in trouble with various gangs, his brother (Ellis) and guardian (Sammy took him in when he had nowhere to go) owe Sal Marcano a notorious criminal money. Marcano requests to meet Lincoln Clay and during the meeting asks Lincoln to rob the federal reserve to clear your families debts, but also offers him lead position of Sammy’s community. Lincoln refuses as he couldn’t betray Sammy and this refusal sets in motion a destructive chain of events. So as anybody will tell you- you can’t trust the mob, and honestly you really can’t, on completing the heist and paying off his debts, Sal Marcano and his thugs attack shooting Lincoln in the face and killing his brother and Sammy, the men think Lincoln is dead as you lay down in first person watching helplessly as the most important people in your life are brutally killed at the hands of your previous associates – it’s difficult to watch but is necessary to create an emotional connection between the player and Lincoln because after this event I felt myself wanting what Lincoln wanted… Revenge. The thugs set the building on fire but you are pulled out of the Flames by a family friend (Father James) and nursed back to help and it is the next five minutes of gameplay that things immediately change. The Lincoln that is seen before the tragedy is the complete opposite to the Lincoln that then emerges driven by rage, guilt, and sorrow Lincoln wants blood and he wants Marcano to watch each member of gang pay for what they did. Due to Lincolns attitude change, it would seem his only agenda is evil, however the Father sticks with Lincoln and acts as the voice of reason In terrible situations, it’s nice to see this contrast in behaviour and starts to make you question you own choices within the game and your reasoning behind them.
So you set out to complete this task. It is this moment you are given freedom to explore the world at your will and while Mafia 3 isn’t the biggest of sandbox games there is enough content within the Louisiana setting to keep you occupied for hours; for example whilst en-route to a mission objective via the streets, (I decided to go on foot for this particular mission), I found a garage, and it just happened to be accessible and after uncovering the hidden speedster I decided to explore further, and managed to come across a prostitution ring which I decided to in my Good Samaritan spirit decided to breakup but fell off the straight and narrow after killing the hideouts gang members….And stealing all their cash. After going back to the garage I decided to take the sports car for a spin- so let’s talk about driving.
To answer it plainly, yes they fixed the not so great driving mechanics found in Mafia 2, as a fan of the series I really disliked Mafia 2’s driving because everything felt heavy especially turning and braking but you don’t get this with Mafia 3 it’s a very nice experience- and there are many vehicles to choose from and because this game is set in the 60’s you have quite a nice variety of lovely cars to choose from. Driving across the map it became clear how diverse the environment is, from the City streets to the eery Bayeux Mafia 3 is not short of beautiful views however at times it seemed like that was just it- there were huge areas with just nothing much going in them and that is my biggest issue with Mafia 3 it suffers with the same issue that is too commonly occurring in open world games; its just a little too empty. I found myself only playing story missions because free roaming just wasn’t that enjoyable – sure its worth driving around the map at first to get an insight into the kind of environment you will be completing missions in but for me that was it… i didn’t feel inclined to search every nook and cranny in hope of finding something great. Occasionally I would come across some enemy turf (these are locations held by enemy gangs and you can choose to take down its habitants, or not) and this is where Mafia 3 got me hooked, with its combat.
The shooting in Mafia is just so satisfying, when you put a guy down, you know he’s down by the gut wrenching sound effects and swear words shouted out by your victim before he leaves this world and the choice of weaponry is fantastic; from revolvers to shotguns to Tommy guns each with their own ear popping sound effects (especially the shotgun) makes combat something you look for rather than avoid. Also committing crimes is something Mafia 3 actually deals with very well, I mean this in a sense that if you commit a crime in view of people those people will call the police, this extra bit of game depth sets it aside from other open world games of the similar genre and really makes you feel like a criminal, or law abiding citizen depending on whether you stop at red lights.
Speaking of criminals there are various gangs you have to deal with throughout the game for example, the Dixie mafia, Marconos gang, the Haitians, the southern Union to name a few; the southern Union being a particularly accurate representation of the KKK at the time. The game draws from the society principles of the 60’s very well and shockingly so includes racist terminology, and disturbing content which I must say some viewers may find distressing but this realism, this accuracy helps mafia to almost teach the player, this is how society was, this is wrong and also shows in what ways today’s world has developed and sadly how in some ways issues from the 60’s are still present today.
I must say a huge thank you to the developers of Mafia 3 for filling this game with the best of the the 20th century’s music, I can’t tell you how delighted I was the first time I walked into a bar and Otis Redding began to sing Sittin On The Dock Of A Bay, it’s a really nice touch and for a moment I forgot I was actually playing a video game, it became more of an experience and that is what Mafia 3 does incredibly well, it draws you in with its touching, revenge driven storyline, it’s bloodthirsty combat, it’s gloomy setting, and nostalgic soundtrack.
Mafia 3 is in no way perfect however, still gamings biggest mystery on why a bush will total your car if you attempt to drive through it haunts Mafia 3 and at points I did tend to get slot of pop in especially when driving over the speed limit, which just takes away from the realism and was sad to see; but I see no reason for it to happen on a very high end pc so fear not if this happens to be you, however watch out for those bushes! And it’s the other little things that let this game down, for example when robbing a stores cash register there is no sound effect or even animation for you doing this, you just hold down your action button and the money appears in your wallet; I found this rather frustrating as it’s not a difficult feature to implement and it’s obvious when it is absent, also I think the ability to dive underwater would have been a great addition to the game i almost expected it after playing GTA and Far Cry especially as there are lethal alligators lurking in the Bayeux I believe being able to come face to face with these creatures underwater would have been fascinating which is why it seems Mafia 3 could have used another six months of development as I feel the finished game was not the best that it could be and it’s saddening that Mafia 3 is missing some important little details that when included make the game a ways better. However all the negativity aside what Mafia 3 is, is a very good game that I will go back to and although features are absent; what’s actually in the game right now is enough to justify buying here are my finals thoughts:
Mafia 3 is a gripping, emotional, and brutal experience and with a great setting and gameplay, even though it is lacking in some areas its unique twist on storytelling is worth you paying a visit to its beautiful Louisiana setting.