Reviewed on PC by Nathan Keeley | Contributing Editor
STORY & PLOT: 10/10
PAINT IT BLACK
Mafia 3 puts you in the revenge fuelled boots of Lincoln Clay. A Vietnam veteran recently returned to New Bordeaux, which is a fictional re-creation of New Orleans. In its simplest form, this is a revenge story that pits the protagonist against his enemies in a one-man-army murder spree. But Mafia 3’s story telling is so much more than that. At times you will feel as though you are watching a production on HBO or Netflix, such is the story and character development. Hanger 13 takes its time in fleshing out character development and tackles some pretty heavy topics.
The 1960’s in America were about racism, violence, Rights movements and a war abroad that nobody wanted to be involved in. And Mafia 3 captures this perfectly in the way the story is told. It is told through a series of documentary style interviews and TV clippings. This makes one feel that the events in the game are based on historical facts and not a fictional video game. The game opens not with you playing as Lincoln Clay but rather in the present day, with people who knew him talking about the events of the game decades later in faux-documentary style interviews. It is here that Mafia 3 is at its best.
The script is one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of as a gamer. The voice acting is of the highest quality and the facial animations will remind you of FIFA 17 they are that good. There were a few times during cut scenes where I was reminded of the amazing Netflix series Narcos, such is the level of storytelling and acting in this game.
The city of New Bordeaux looks fantastic! The period details look amazing and I found myself watching the scenery rather than the road more than a few times. But there were still a few technical disappointments. In my playthrough I saw a few flat textures, and often some weird daytime lighting (especially while driving). The sky box looks like it’s straight out of Mafia 2 to be honest and quite a few times I saw some “pop-in’s” while exploring the world. At the time of writing, Hangar 13 had just released a PC Hotfix to correct these issues.
There is also the frame lock saga that was quickly resolved by Hangar 13, so we will not dwell on it for too long, but I did feel that it required a mention. To publish a AAA title and frame lock it at 30fps for PC players is not the brightest move. On the opening day Mafia 3 had reviews on Steam almost as bad as No Man’s Sky. This issue was thankfully resolved within 48 hours of launch.
GOOD TIMES ARE SO HARD TO FIND
The core gameplay is good overall. The cover system is great and switching between cover is done really well. The stealth in the game is fairly basic, but sometimes simplicity is the best solution. The AI is not great though. The guards will often take very predictable and repetitive patrol routes, and while this makes sneaking around “shiving” the bad guys in the kidneys fun and enjoyable, you certainly don’t feel like Snake from Metal Gear Solid V.
The general gunplay is good and although I had to turn up my controller sensitivity a bit, it didn’t really affect my overall enjoyment of the game. The same can be said for driving in game. It’s not amazing, but it’s not terrible. Again, Mafia 3 has chosen function over form here and produced a solid driving experience.
YOU BELONG TO ME
Apart from the Main Storyline, anything outside of this feels a bit dull and repetitive. This is probably the biggest issue most gamers will have with Mafia 3. I do like the Underboss system at play though, which reminded me of the Nemesis system found in The Shadow of Mordor. Each underboss you help unlocks new abilities for the player. Which is great because this will allow you to call up an arms dealer so you can buy guns and other forms of weaponized destruction. You can also call in an Irish hit squad for assistance during a raid, or call your Consigliere to pick up your cash and stash it in your safe so you don’t lose it if you die.
To say Mafia III is a disappointment would be unfair. It has all of the surface components to form a great game: the writing and acting are superb, its direction and style are great, but its gameplay and AI are archaic and unimaginative.