Mafia 3 has a lot of great parts that just aren’t put together very well. It’s like the developer took what made open world games great like GTA 5 popular and added L.A. Noire to the mix; or in other words, a fair amount of old fashioned racism. Although it is more interesting this time since we play from an African American perspective where it would actually matter. It even looks a lot like L.A. Noire with the old timey set-up and terrifying rubber character designs and shiny teeth. So while Mafia 3 has an authentic atmosphere (because this shit did/does happen) and rich story, it lacks in every other way. Not to say the game is bad, in fact it is well worth playing, there is just so much more the developers could have done. Not to mention the game is bugged up the ass and on multiple occasions simply crashed on me, but that seems to be more of an industry problem than personal these days. The one unforgivable mistake in Mafia 3 is how players can only have one save file. What is this, Pokémon?! What the hell kind of game in this day and age only lets you have ONE FU***** SAVE FILE?!
At first glance it would appear that combat was copy pasted from GTA 5 but the developers couldn’t even get that right. To be fair, most shooters these days are nearly identical, chest high walls and cover based shooting. In Mafia 3 combat just feels clunky with poor cover to cover movement and fighting speed that is either painfully slow or too fast. Since Lincoln has the consistency of a cardboard box he usually gets taken down in a couple shots. Enemy AI are also incompetent and if they don’t line up for the headshot buffet will walk over to you for a free knife in the throat. Many times I just blasted the first couple enemies, hid around the corner and just stabbed everyone else as they came to look at the steadily increasing pile of bodies. Police are basically a non-factor since they are slow to respond and players can easily escape them by jumping into the nearest body of water. Upgrades are also pointless since I easily went through the entire game before I remembered I could even buy upgrades.
Gameplay is also fun but gets repetitive quickly since most missions either involve killing a dude or breaking stuff… and then killing all the dudes. Even most ‘boss’ missions take place in the same areas players have already been with just a few more dudes to kill. The silver lining is the lieutenant and capo missions which all take place in unique areas with special twist. Drug a bunch of rich racist with super LSD? Got it. Crash a river boat and feed the occupants to alligators? Got it. Set fire to a bunch of Klan members? Bet your ass we got it. The map isn’t very big in retrospect but with the slow ass cars available you wouldn’t know it. I get it’s authentic but the only transportation is slow cars with almost non-existent car combat. Collectables aren’t required to platinum, which is rare, but they are unique and almost interesting. Sections of old school Playboys (which apparently really do have a lot of articles) and semi-nude paintings? What’s not to love?
The plot of Mafia 3 is interesting if not very unique. The usual ‘revenge by murdering everyone he’s even looked at’ story. You play as the former super soldier Lincoln Clay who just had his family killed by a man who was so obviously the villain a billboard would be less obvious, who then vanishes and has little to no point for the rest of the plot. The major feature the developers announced was how your partners can turn on you if they don’t get a fair share and how it can affect the story. Not only is the story unaffected either way but there really is no point to favoring one partner over another. Upgrades offer little help and it takes forever for partners to get angry enough to turn on you anyways, then you just kill them and move on. It does make you wonder why you actually needed the others in the first place if you can just kill them off though. Most story sections are told by cut scenes of some future documentary on Lincoln, which is unique but raises more unanswered questions than not. The endings are also generic but fairly interesting, even though I could never figure out who the hell that FBI agent with a boner for Lincoln was. The bad ending is short but easily the biggest surprise.
Mafia 3 did take one risk, especially these days, in portraying a very accurate representation of life in the Deep South during the civil rights era. Ramped racism with a side order of ignorance and some equality for dessert. L.A. Noire did the same thing but it doesn’t really come up much when you’re a white detective. Not only that but it has strong female characters that aren’t just slutty bitches? Some ‘politically correct’ group should throw the developers a fucking parade. I would have a lot more respect for the developers if they didn’t put up a notice at the start of the game explaining how it isn’t their fault people were extremely racist in the mid-1900, a fact you could only miss if you tried. While the game has many faults that need to be overlooked it is still well worth playing, especially for fans of shooters and/or open world games. I would say one of the best open world games of this year but Skyrim is just around the corner.