The Mafia series has strangely been a series that hasn’t had much of an identity. While there has been connective tissue between the games, it’s hard to see them developing any kind of personality. Sometimes, though, that can be a blessing in disguise. In Mafia 3, players are pushed in a radically new direction in a world that has little in common with that seen in the previous games. It’s up to the player, though, to determine if that’s a good thing. Our goal is to provide our readers with the information they need to decide if this game’s gambles paid off. In our Mafia 3 review, we will discuss the storyline and main characters, as well as more practical aspects, such as gameplay and Mafia 3 system requirements. Below is the Mafia 3 trailer:
|Type of game:||Open World Action|
|Total Play Time:||29 Hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz or AMD Phenom II X4 940
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660
OS: 64-bit Windows 7 or 64-bit Windows 8 (8.1)
HDD Space: 40 GB
The World of Mafia 3
Determining whether the game holds up means looking at all of its component parts. We’ll take a look at the game’s atmosphere, its characters, its story, and even the downloadble content. With a thorough enough look at that content, it becomes easier to see where this game succeeds and where it tends to fall short.
Atmosphere & Location
Mafia 3 is a game that is, in many ways, a game that’s more about its atmosphere than its characters. New Bordeaux is as vibrant a video game world as has ever been created, one that oozes with authenticity and substance. It’s in every way comparable to worlds like Grand Theft Auto IV’s Liberty City, but with a grounded sense of realness that elevates the game above almost everything else out there.
This is also a game that wears its inspirations on its sleeve. The game is less about the Mafia than it is about the American South during the Civil Rights era. If you’ve seen a movie from the time period, you’ll probably see something familiar here. The characters are largely taken from the same stock that permeates the film and literature of the time, warts and all. There’s very little that’s pleasant here, but that’s often the point.
In fact, purposefully unpleasant is the best way to describe the game’s aesthetic. There’s no attempt to romanticize the time period and moves are deliberately made to make the player uncomfortable. There was at least some controversy around these decisions upon the release, but they do feel like they stand up.
As with the other games in the Mafia series, this is largely a game about one man’s descent into the world of organized crime. Unlike the previous games, though, this one isn’t about made men at all. In fact, it’s a game about a man named Lincoln Clay, an African-American Vietnam vet with serious ties to organized crime. More than any other game in the series so far, this is a game about the protagonist’s descent into a much darker world.
Lincoln is definitely more fleshed out than previous protagonists in the game. In some ways, he’s also a bit less likeable. While he’s capable of being charismatic, there’s always a sense that he keeps his demons close to the surface. You see plenty of moments of real humanity during the game, but most of what you’ll see from Lincoln is professionalism. He’s a man who treats his vendetta against the Mafia as a war, and he’s got plenty of experience as a soldier.
Oddly, it’s when Lincoln cuts loose that he becomes a great protagonist. The voice acting is top notch and it’s hard not to empathize with his pain and anger during certain parts of the story. It’s a fully-fleshed out performance that really pays off in the long run, even if most players won’t be entirely happy with all the choices that Lincoln makes during the game.
There’s also a great supporting cast in the game, though most of the characters are given short shrift. Some of the best performances come from incidental characters who help New Bordeaux to come alive. It’s one of the few open world games in which most will want to actually stop and listen to all of the dialog, even when walking down the street. The characterization is impressive from bottom to top.
It seems like every Mafia game eventually turns into a story about revenge. That was certainly a huge part of the last game, and likewise this game is as much about fighting against the mob as it is about being part of organized crime. This entry in the series, though, is the first to really place the player as an outsider. There’s very little romanticizing of crime or criminal elements here, but rather an admission that there are varying degrees of evil in the world. This is first and foremost the story of one man going to incredible lengths to avenge his family.
Lincoln’s journey really begins as he starts the process of dismantling the New Bordeaux mob from the bottom up. He’s smart enough to know that this isn’t a one-man journey, though, so he works to take over every aspect of the mob’s criminal empire and force them out of his city. Along the way, he’ll move after specific targets to ensure that they pay for what they did to him and to his family. It’s a very standard tale of revenge, albeit one with some cool mechanics that surround taking over territory and assigning lieutenants to manage various criminal enterprises.
Most of the missions in the game aren’t going to blow the mind of players who have played open-world crime games. You’ll go to a specific point, eliminate all the enemies, and capture a specific objective. The best missions in the game tend to surround eliminating specific mob lieutenants, who can either be eliminated or brought over to your side. The way you work with and against the system can make the game feel a little more complex than it really is, but the truth is that most of what you’re seeing is window dressing. Even when you capture or kill a lieutenant, you’re really just capturing another objective.
DLC & Expansion Packs
As you should probably expect from a 2K game, there’s a fair bit of DLC surrounding Mafia 3. Unfortunately, the vast majority of what you’ll see is just weapons and cars that were released as various bits of pre-order swag. There’s nothing in those kits that you actually need to enjoy the game, though finding a particularly nice new car or outfit might be worth a few dollars to some players.
There are also three story-based DLC packs for the game. Each of these DLCs expands a bit on the story of the game, though they all take place before the game’s ending. Each touches on a theme that was given a bit of room in the main game, but that could still use some exploring. From a pure story perspective, Stones Unturned is probably the only must-have, though both Faster, Baby and Sign of the Times are both fun in their own right. All three are included in the Season Pass, which takes much of the financial sting out of the DLC.
Mafia 3 is an ambitious game that tries very hard to take a look at a time and place that is often ignored by video games. While the story is solid, some of the mechanics fail to live up to the promise of the game. Overall, though, it’s the best showing by a series that is often considered an also-ran to Grand Theft Auto.
What did you think of Mafia 3? Was the story worth the gameplay? Did it fall flat where it should have soared? Let us know by getting in touch.