A lot has been said about the new Mafia game, including some thoughts from me. It’s had some lovers and some haters. Good comments and some really poor ones. So I’ve taken extra time with this Mafia 3 review to really give the game a chance since I enjoyed the story so much.
And giving the game a chance is something gamers who like a good story should certainly do.
During the review I’ll be looking at how the acting and story elements stand out with the best in the business. But somewhere along the way, the diversity in the gameplay got lost and the finishing touches are not so polished.
It’s a good game for a certain type of gamer, and one others will turn away from instantly. But that doesn’t stop it being a pretty good experience overall.
Look and Feel – You Lookin’ at Me?
Mafia 3 has quite a few elements that are bit mixed. Where you can see what Hanger 13 are capable of creating, yet something else lets the package down. This is certainly the case for the game’s overall presentation.
Visually I can think of so many things that look amazing. The characters for one thing are remarkable, in every cut scene the faces and their expressions are excellent. Combine that with a good script that’s well acted, you’ll find it hard not to listen and watch the events unfold.
Some of the locations in the city of New Bordeaux are really nice too. I personally love the detail with the 60s cars, they all look so cool. The 60s soundtrack is awesome sitting alongside that, and some of the tracks they’ve chosen are songs covered in recent days for a but of familiarity.
But then there are there bad things, where game lets itself down by looking a unpolished in some textures. There are instances of the game technically not performing well too, although patches have helped this and will continue to do so.
It’s a shame because the game gets so much right but let’s itself down with some very poor finishing touches.
Story – The Reason to Play Mafia 3
The game follows the return of Lincoln Clay from Vietnam. The Special Forces man is back in New Bordeaux but not all is well with his adopted family.
Soon after finding out what’s up, he’s dealing with the mob and Sal Marcano, a man who sets up a heist with Lincoln leading the way. After getting away with the cash they betray Lincoln and then its revenge time!
Once everything settles down after the first few hours of the game you are recruiting people to help you take down Marcano. These include the protagonist from Mafia II in Vito Scaletta, Cassandra “The Voodoo Queen” and the rather crazy Irishman Thomas Burke. All of them have distinct personalities and have you doing jobs for them to gain support.
You help them, they help you sort of deal.
With them on board you bring down Marcano by taking out his territory and people in control of them. Each involves some really well done scenes, different characters and exceptional acting.
To be honest, the game really excels at telling its story throughout. It stands up there with the best in the business as far as an open world game story goes, including GTA and the much in the news Red Dead games. The way its told, hopping from the present day in documentary style interviews, to cut scenes from your adventure are all executed perfectly.
Some real effort has gone in here and it shows.
Ending wise the game leads to some nice choices that have some serious implications for the city and the characters within. It’s certainly worth seeing a few of them to see how it all pans out depending on how your relationships with your partners has developed over the numerous “Sit-Down” meetings.
Small choices have big effects throughout the game and does promote coming back for more.
Gameplay – “What was that?”
While the story keeps you coming back for more, they gameplay at times does a lot to put you off playing the game. That may sound harsh, but it’s just downright poor at times and you really feel the developers should have fixed things picked things up in testing.
And if they didn’t notice the shocking enemy AI, they didn’t really do much play-testing.
There is good here, and I will get to that but I have to explain myself on this point: the AI is even bad for last gen gaming. And even with it being bad, the developers decided to give no staged improvements in their abilities as you progress. The techniques at the start of the game are what you use at the end of the game and it’s all a little, mehh.
All I found myself doing to clear an area was whistle, soon followed by the nearest goon going “What was that?” (Well, it was clearly a whistle you idiot!)
Then he casually strolls over, not a care in the world and you hit the stab button. He’s dead, so you do it again and the next comes over, and the next. Even a pile of dead bodies only makes them get their gun out a bit, yet they still potter right into your path to join their dead buddies.
It’s not exactly like this all the time, you do occasionally get it wrong or just get bored and go for the shoot-out option. But the 3rd person shooting is only ok so there isn’t much of a thrill to be had doing this either.
It’s not all bad
Getting around the city though is cool, the cars drive in classic open world style with some handling more smoothly than others. The map system is cool with a road sign based direction system that was very nice. Plus the locations you visit for your missions are really interesting too.
Taking over territory and taking on quests work in a familiar way and all have a reasonable life span to them that doesn’t get too much or too little. And when you get new areas you are rewarded with good perks and bonuses such as having your own driver. This can come in handy since there is no fast travel and you want to save time.
There are more perks along the way and what’s interesting is how they are impacted by your choices as giving territory to one of your team will give you a different bonus.
The open world also has some optional quests that sit nicely along with the story ones. These build up your relationships with your lieutenants, doing them favours and getting them more with your cause. Collectables, including Playboy magazines and communist propaganda take up your time too but ultimately the world is very story and mission orientated.
At best the gameplay is “OK”, there are good parts but then when it’s bad you really wonder why it was left and released in such a state.
Depending on what you are all about will decide how you react to Mafia 3. If you want a polished open world sandbox adventure, lots of fun things to do and top gameplay you won’t find it here. If you want a great story with some top video game acting and a simple gameplay experience then you are going to enjoy it.
My biggest issue is, like I said before release, the game had so many things going for it and the developers could have made something really special. Had had the time/people/money to put the work they did into the story into the gameplay, this game really would have been one of the best this year.
It’s a shame but, ultimately Mafia 3 is a good game but not a great one.