For some, Mafia 2 was an unsung hero for the last console generation. So when 2K Czech announced that they will be partnering up with a new team from 2K, Hanger 13, those fans of the previous games cheered! Mafia 3 takes place in 1968 in the deep South in the town of New Bordeaux, you play as Lincoln Clay, a man that has a long past of pain and struggles. At the start of the game, he is returning after serving his country during the Vietnam War. While fighting for his country he obtained new found skills but now looks to hang them up and trade them in for a happy life.
When Lincoln Clay returns home he finds that his foster family, Sammy and Ellis Robinson,are in debt with an Italian mob boss named Sal Marcano. Lincoln takes it upon himself to help relieve this pressure on his family. But like most things in life, not everything is what it seems. After successfully completing a job for Sal Marcano things take a turn for the worst and Lincoln now must make things right for his family and for his town.
Mafia 3’s storytelling is by far the best part of this game. From the moment you start the game you are pulled into the story of New Bordeaux. You see the divide between the people of the city and in the city itself. The developers knew that if they wanted to tell this story during this era, they had to be true to its history. When you start the game you are told via a disclaimer from the developers that racism and the language people used back then will be included in the game. If they had not been true to the history of the time this game would have failed the moment it started. As you play through the game, short cut scenes will play to give some backstory about how and why Lincoln was taking down this crime family. During the cutscene , you will learn about Lincoln Clay’s past and also the past of the people that are closest to him. Having these short interviews with characters remind you why Lincoln is fighting, and also gives you a look into how the Marcano family reacts to Lincoln’s actions.
As you progress through the game you have four main people supporting you to take down Sal Marcano’s crime family. Your main intel provider is John Donovan; he is an ex-CIA agent that served in Vietnam with Lincoln. Donovan knows what Lincoln is capable of and wants to see the people that hurt him go down hard. Also, the exchanges between Lincoln and Donovan have a brotherly feel to them so it provides more depth to the character of Lincoln. The other three characters are mob bosses that have their own reasons for going after Sal Marcano . Vito Scaletta is a name you might remember from Mafia 2. Cassandra is a strong willed Haitian woman that wants the best for her people and doesn’t care who it hurts along the way. Finally there’s Thomas Burke, an old man that has been fighting for each breath he takes, he has seen a war in his homeland of Ireland and still sees it in America. All he wants is for some form of a life. Lincoln helped get these bosses back on their feet and in return, they promised to help him take down Sal Marcano.
Each one of the mob bosses brings their own personality to the story of Mafia 3. Cassandra is trying to get Lincoln to be true to his roots and side with her. Vito is looking for some security from Marcano’s thugs as well as make money at the same time, and Burke might have been in the business for a bit too long but is always looking for a good time. Since Lincoln cannot protect all of New Bordeaux alone he needs these three bosses to take over territories. By assigning territories to your bosses they will give you better equipment or you will be able to call in a favor for free. But be careful how you divide up the city or you might have a new enemy to worry about.
Sadly, now we must turn the tables and talk about some issues that appeared during my time with the game. My first issue with the game is the content of the world. After you complete main story missions and take over a part of the city, there is very little left to do. Once you have assigned an area to a boss they will ask for help from time to time. These missions are your usual run of the mill errand missions. Go over to point A pickup item and bring the item back to point B. Nothing too complicated. My main issue with these missions is that they were just too dull and did not hold my attention. Some of the side missions will give you back-story into members of the gang or just add some money to your pocket. I liked that they added that level of detail to the gangs but at the same time I was not getting anything out of the missions. There are rewards for completing the missions such as money, favors, or gun upgrades. These sound like some pretty good rewards but in the end, it didn’t add much to the game and made me question why they were there.
The guns in Mafia 3 play very little into the gameplay. You would expect a game called Mafia would have some awesome gun fights to keep you entertained. Sadly, that is not the case in Mafia 3. More times than not, I could sneak into a place and stealth kill all the guards before getting to the main target. You do have the ability to unlock different types of rifles, handguns, shotguns, and special weapons as you progress through missions and quests. The weapons they cover do look awesome but I never found a time that I needed to use any of the advanced weapons during the game. During a majority of the time in the game, I would use a normal handgun and only changed when I unlocked the silenced handgun. The weapon controls are smooth and feel good in a firefight. You have the option in the game to choose how much Aim Assist you want during the game which in turn makes the game easier or harder, depending on your skills.
Another issue I saw with this game was the A.I. of the enemies. When Lincoln Clay is taking out different members of the Marcano Crime Family, there are a variety of ways to approach each one. Now the game lets the player choose to run in with guns blazing or you can sneak in and pick them off one by one. I was interested to see how the sneaking mechanic would work in an open world, 3rd person action game. I was pleased to see that the developers made a good cover mechanic that worked well a majority of the time.
The biggest issue I have with the whistle technique is that it can be overused. I performed this trick a couple of times and quickly find out that I can call over almost every guard. There were only a few times they were startled by a dead body but would just then run faster to where I was hiding. I was hoping if two guards were talking they might both come over if I whistled. To my surprise, they stop talking and one approaches me and the other just leaves in another direction. I wanted there to be more of a challenge to take down crime lords but it was so easy that I was bored each time I took down enemy operations.
Beyond gameplay, another huge issue is the lighting and graphics. During my time with the game, I found the dynamic lighting was not changing smoothly. If I was outside during the night and entered a building it would remain just as dark as it was outside. This would lead to me having to go into the settings of the game and turn up the brightness so I could see where I was going. Thinking that fixed the issue when I left the building it would be so bright I had to once again change the settings in the game. This really frustrated me to a point where I turned the setting back to default and shut off the game. I thought it was a bug when loading the game but the next time I launched the game it would be just as bad.
Along with the issues in the lighting , the graphics in the game seemed to partially render as I progress around the city. The area I saw it the most was when I was driving around in a vehicle. There was a very little detail to the car and seemed almost flat. This was a shock for me because I expected the developers of Mafia 2 to bring the same level of detail to Mafia 3. Along with poor rendering, the game has been known to crash quite often for most users. I found that my game on the PlayStation 4 only started to crash after the most recent update was installed. I would never get a unique error code when the game crashed, instead, I would just get the common system crash code. This once again made me quit out of the game, making me have to relaunch multiple times during a single gaming session.
In the end, Mafia 3 brings with it some great storytelling. Each character you encounter is different in their own way and adds another level to the story. Where the game falls short for me is that the world is empty, missions are tedious and boring, and game crashes broke the experience. The developer did do some great things with story, but fell short in the execution of the game mechanics. Not all aspects of the game were broken but enough of them were to make me wonder if I would ever finish the game. I hope 2K Czech and Hanger 13 learn from this game and come back stronger in the future.