Mafia III is the first Mafia game I have played, and therefore will not be compared to any previous installment of the series. It is reviewed solely on the gameplay and as a standalone version. With that said, I will also say it is one of the best games I have played all year. The big selling point for me is the fact that Mafia III is not another Godfather or Sopranos type mafia story. Even though the Godfather movies were fantastic and the Sopranos was an excellent show, after a while that theme gets old. Mafia III does not follow those tropes at all, instead telling a completely unique story that you have probably not experienced elsewhere.
Another reason why I felt this was a game worth playing is the fact that it delves into mature themes not touched by other game developers like racism. Finally, because of the incredible acting and cinematography, Mafia III at times feels more like an award-winning movie than an actual game. But don’t worry, the gameplay elements are good too.
Before I begin, this is a game in progress for me and I have not completed the journey of our protagonist Lincoln Clay. However, even the large portion that I have played so far has proven this game worth playing. Not only are the main characters excellently written and created, the gameplay is smooth with excellent driving mechanics. To top it off the graphics are just stunning. It is however, the cinematography and acting that makes this game stand out from other games. People feel real, with real emotions, real lives, and they look real. There is still the notion its a game, graphics and motion capture, but the actors and the mechanics of the game portray the characters in a real light that most games don’t capture.
This game was reviewed on a PC through the Steam online service with exceptional gameplay at 50 – 60 fps on optimized settings. The movies themselves where virtually flawless, except for some mechanical motions from the motion capture due to high frame rate, and I did not experience any lag or graphic issues. This game itself for me was a smooth and near perfect experience.
Back to the story of Mafia III and why this is a great game. The story is about Lincoln Clay who was raised by a man named Sammy and has a brother named Ellis. Sammy runs a bar in New Orleans but is also involved in organized crime in New Orleans. Before going off to Vietnam Lincoln was also involved in Sammy’s dealings. Coming back you get the sense that Lincoln no longer wants that life but because of his loyalty to Sammy and Ellis finds himself embroiled in the problems that occurred during his time away and agrees to help with the robbery of the Federal Reserve. The game opens with the Federal reserve heist along with your close friend and partner Giorgi.
During the game there is a back and forth between the present and past with Father James, investigators, family of Lincoln’s partners talking about the big heist and what happened to Lincoln, withholding enough information to want you to keep playing. We are playing past events and living Lincoln’s life , which takes a turn and becomes big news with hearings. Perhaps the heist? but as I go along there will be more revelations.
The story continues from the actual heist to Lincoln coming back from the war and meeting up with Ellis, Sammy, Father James, and other friends at Sammy’s bar. Lincoln in the past has helped out Father James and did work for his catholic church. Back home Lincoln learns about Sammy’s involvement with the Haitian gang but is not fully aware of the issue until they attack a soup kitchen.
Lincoln was just helping out and giving back to the poorer members of his community by serving them gumbo when a gang run by Baka comes in and starts causing trouble. Lincoln is now involved and goes to take out Baka and his gang in the Bayou. He also inadvertently rescues a women being kept by the gang.
From here it goes on to the preparation of the heist and meeting with all parties involved. This includes another local by the name of Sal Marcano who Sammy is involved with and long time friend Giorgi. The game reminds us that Mardi Gras is days away.
The setting is New Orleans but you do go outside the city during missions. One is to the Bayou where you get to go to the hideout of Baka’s gang in a pontoon boat. It’s open world and you can drive distances to get to different locations. The map is fairly extensive and there are places that can be explored. With the fantastic driving mechanics it is easy to explore the map without fighting the system and crashing into everything. Even just walking and running is not difficult to do making each mission playable and you go straight through the game, giving you more time to enjoy more of the richness of the story and plot.
I am not saying this game is easy, you still have to contend with numerous enemies and watch out for the police. There is a fairly decent inventory system and Lincoln can collect weapons from slain enemies along with his default weapon. You get a good amount of ammo and reload doesn’t take long, keeping you in the fight. Weapons are usually pistols, shotguns, and sometimes machine guns. At Baka’s base you get Molotov cocktails to throw.
There are times where Lincoln needs to sneak up on enemies to avoid an all out fire fight. Stealth mechanics work in this game, there are plenty of places to crouch behind and there is a meter showing enemy awareness to your presence. Without firing your weapon you can take out enemies by coming up behind them. I also found that I can just sneak up and take down people without drawing attention. Then again sometimes for time its just best to go in guns blazing. In that situation I must say the aiming is good enough that as a player I can shoot at an enemy and take them down without to much exposure. Aim, shoot, and then crouch behind walls and crates again. Also, health cabinets are everywhere to keep you in the game.
Also available is a map of New Orleans and mission goals. There is Lincoln’s journal with his own thoughts as the story progresses. Players can add names to a kill list, there are also unlockable assets and collections.
The interface for the game is simple and has the necessary parts players will need. There is a map showing your location, location of enemies, and goal. In the left corner are indicators for inventory, which includes medicine and ammo. When driving you get a rear view mirror and speedometer.
Missions are not long or drawn out, they seem reasonably paced. The game itself is reasonably paced, with lots of storytelling. When in doubt of where the story is or going just read Lincoln’s journal to catch up.
It’s not a kids game, there is violence, language, and they delve into racial issues happening in New Orleans in 1968. However, as a mature audience game I found it to be a good game. Fantastic storytelling, compelling characters, and smooth gameplay make this a game that many gamers can appreciate. Though it might not be for everyone I recommend giving it a try. I also found it to be one of the better third person shooters I have played and at least you can drive. In my opinion the developers did excellent work with the game mechanics. At least I felt as though I was in New Orleans in 1968 with real characters.