An Oscar-Winning Story Let Down by Tedious Gameplay
Mafia III is an open world, third person action adventure game with an Oscar-winning story let down by boring and often tedious gameplay. Set in the 1960’s in Hangar 13 version of New Orleans called New Bordeaux. Hangar 13 takes us to a turbulent time and place in history, especially for the half black Vietnam vet who you take control of. In this tale of revenge you will face corrupt cops, racist group leaders and members of the Italian mob as you drive, run and shoot your way around New Bordeaux.
The story, characters and voice acting in the mafia is probably the best I have seen this generation. The layout of the story in the style of a true crime documentary is inspired. The supporting cast is fully fleshed out with an interesting back story and their own unique desires and agenda. If it was a movie it could become an instant classic said in the same breath as Scarface or The Godfather.
In Mafia III you play as Lincoln Clay, a half black Vietnam veteran who is connected to the black mob. As Layton you take up a mission of revenge against the Italian mob after they kill your adoptive family. Along the way you meet your 3 lieutenants, Cassandra, Burke and Vito ( the protagonist from Mafia 2). Each of your lieutenants have their own gang and territory which you assign in between completing the main story.
The main story missions are great set pieces that give you the opportunity to choose how you tackle them and lead to truly memorable moments, such as murdering a rally full of the southern union (this games KKK) or a Scarface-esque moment where I was walking down a staircase in a hotel lobby with a Tommy gun mowing down enemies as I try to escape. The problems start in all the moments in-between these story missions.
The minute to minute gameplay consists of taking down rackets in enemy territory by slowly whittling down the income generated by them. This usually involves going to point B and killing someone or destroying supplies and inventory that the racket owns. After you cause enough damage to the income of the racket you will receive a mission to take the racket over. This is done by either killing or recruiting the racket leader to your side depending on your choice of play. That is basically all this game has to offer, overall there are about 5 or 6 missions types including the side missions. Making these missions even worse is the basic combat and cover system.
While the combat systems are not bad, they are not good either. The stealth gameplay consists of using cover and whistles to pull the basic A.I enemies into range of your one touch button presses that triggers one of the very few kill animations of you ramming a combat knife into the chest or throat of the idiot unlucky enough to be in your way. Meanwhile the gun mechanics feel sluggish and unpredictable unless you are using a pistol which to be honest is all you need to complete the game. If you end up using a silence pistol obtained from one of your lieutenants the game becomes unbearably easy to the point where you know longer have to think to complete any of the missions.
The lieutenants system is an exceptional piece of design that adds a layer of resource management and diplomacy to the game. After taking over a district you decide which of your lieutenants will run it for you, each offering different incentives for you to give the district to them. If you end up favoring certain lieutenants and neglecting others it can cause them to turn against you. This results in some of the best moments of the game, where you go on a mission to take out the disgruntled lieutenant. These missions gave me real pause due to the fact I had to kill a character that I became attached to and where the best part of this game outside of the main story.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics in Mafia III leave something to be desired. While the graphics look good at first, as you start driving around the city and playing the game in general you start to notice the flaws. The pop in and textures as you drive often make it look like you flying in the air and not driving on a road. Other problems include cover disappearing in the middle of a firefight and clipping through the world as you walk along the street. The biggest graphical problem however is the lighting, which is probably the worst lighting in a game I have seen since early PS3 days. When it gets to dusk or dawn the lighting often either whitewashed the screen or blacks it out completely, often resulting the an inability to see anything on the screen.
I have to congratulate Hanger 13 on one thing though, the city they believe is stunning. As you travel around the city you will be treated to some extremely beautiful vistas, from the iconic french ward to the lush greens in the bayou. Each of the district have their own unique feel, character and police response time. For example; the hallow is basically and run down ghetto where the police often ignore calls and crimes, in contrast downtown is full of beautiful tall buildings and the police response is almost instant.
The sound design of Mafia III is amazing. Everything from the sounds of a car’s engine to the ambient noises of each district all helps build on the 1960’s setting that Mafia III captures so well. By far the best part of Mafia 3 sound design is the voice acting. Alex Hernandez was amazing in his portrayal of Lincoln Clay, and where most games often drop the ball with their supporting cast Mafia gets it perfect. Overall Mafia 3 sound is some of the best you will find this generation.
The difficulty level Mafia III offers is a little on the easy side in my opinion. Like Mafia 2 even when I had the game on the hardest difficulty setting I found that the set up and A.I made the game rather simple and easy to tackle. If you are a player that is looking for a challenge this game might disappoint. Most players should be able to enjoy the game on any difficulty.
The trophies and achievements encourages you to replay the game numerous times, in fact to platinum the game you have too. Unfortunately I found the gameplay makes this rather boring and takes all the enjoyment out of playing the game. I have resigned myself to the fact this is one games I’m not going to 100% and I won’t see all the endings by my own work. If you want to see all the endings you may find it more enjoyable to look them up on YouTube.