The Mafia franchise has always been a favourite of mine. I adored the historical accurateness as well as the fun, action-filled gameplay that was always delivered. Mafia 3 is the latest instalment and I could not wait to get my hands on it. The story looked fantastic, the interactive world seemed incredible and not to mention being able to customise and run your own gang around the entire city. I was more than a little excited.
You play as a character named Lincoln Clay. A black man who has come back from the Vietnam war and runs with the black mob. Sammy, the head of the family, is his adoptive father and the loyalty between them as well as Ellis, the birth son of Sammy, is very strong. As you go through the story, you learn that Sammy is in a lot of debt with the Italian mafia, and so Lincoln tries to make things right with them but in turn, gets betrayed along with the rest of his family.
The story that you play really comes after this tragedy. As Lincoln is desperate for revenge and sees no other alternative, you fight your way through the different Rackets (Groups or gangs) around the city and take over it yourself with the help of allies.
Now, since the story is based on the civil rights movement in the 60’s, I was expecting a lot of aggression towards Lincoln based on him being black, as well as a lot of discrimination towards different sectors of the city. This is what I was under the impression I’d be experiencing, and after learning about the game taking this brave and honest route, I was very keen to learn more about that period in history myself. However, after playing the game and walking around, I have seen very little in terms of the discrimination that was there during the 60’s.
The beauty and glorious atmosphere of the old fashioned buildings and cars, and the way people dressed and all of the things that you’d expect to be enhanced in this generation of gaming; have not been given much of a chance.
The small details are those that matter, especially in such a well-received franchise such as Mafia. Mafia 3 did not deliver in even the big, essential details, never mind the small ones. As so many games have done recently, Mafia 3 has been released with bugs and errors when even launching the game for so many people. I didn’t expect ghosts to be a part of the game but then I see flying cars and chairs moving on their own and it just disappoints me to think that this is all they could deliver on time. It is true that Mafia 3 was given to a group of brand new developers, and yes as first timers, I can imagine Mafia 3 was quite a scary task ahead. But despite that, it shouldn’t matter. They should have realised that this was going to be a big break for them, and I wish that they had put more effort into it.
After a while, I started to look around properly and really see the visuals for what they actually were. The textures were those of a PS3 game and Mafia 2 was excellent and successfully executed their visuals and to be honest, I think that Mafia 2’s development team would have conquered this. I found so many textures that were reused for different items, and not in a very tidy way. The sand, for example, was just so plain. The repeats were visible as well as there being no movement whatsoever from you walking in it. No footprints, no little grains of sand, nothing.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s really quite repetitive and dry. I do enjoy that you can explore the world openly like in GTA and Mafia 2, but there really is no interactivity with this open world. No clothes stores, no any stores really. You can’t buy say, little things like a beer or some candy bars for health. You can’t get some fancy wheels unless you simply unlock them through your crew by doing repetitive tasks such as trafficking items back and forth, which gets tiring after a while. A real pet peeve of mine is that there are some walls I can’t climb up onto when I should easily be able to reach the ledge. Things like this make a supposedly open world feel limited and just flat like Spiderman 2 on PS2. You could go around the city fine but the interaction was pretty much zilch.
In Mafia 3, they advertised this wonderful freedom of being able to do missions in whatever way you want. You could go out guns blazing or be all sneaky and kill enemies silently. But really, you can do that in most games anyway, and as much as the option makes it easier to do the missions, a restriction would maybe have given it a more challenging effect. The missions are repetitive to the core since all of them seem to be going into a building and killing a bunch of thugs to then kill the boss, who in turn, is no harder than the little minions. At least if we were forced to be stealthy in a few of the missions, we’d have to go outside of bang bang bang and think of a strategy and maybe make it a little more fun.
Overall, I do enjoy the story. I am playing it solely because I want to know what the result will be once Lincoln has built his empire and made a fool out of the Italian mob. However, it’s a shame that a lot of the time, I am faced with being disappointed by the lack of content on release, as well as the bugs and problems so many have had to deal with, and of course the dire repetitiveness of the gameplay.
I would recommend it to those who enjoyed the previous Mafia games because I do enjoy that they brought back Vito and the story is alright, if not a little choppy. However, I would also say don’t expect it to be the big giant that they’ve praised it for being.