Mafia III Review: Intelligent storytelling but plagued with repetition and glitches

 

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Vietnam war solider, Lincoln Clay returns to New Bordeaux. Screenshot taken from PS4 game-play. (Hanger 13/2K Games)

It has been six full years since we last experienced life as a racketeer, in the open-world game Mafia II. In Mafia III2K games new stellar entry into the franchise – you take on the role of Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam War soldier who starts his own criminal empire in the fictional city of New Bordeaux. Clay starts from the bottom and climbs his way to prominence in the Black mob, but after being double-crossed, and left for dead by his so-called companions, Clay sets out on a path for revenge against a rival Mafioso leader, Sal Marcano.

The use of historical footage from 1968 allows the game to delve into the history of mob rule and racism in the United States after the Vietnam War. The presentation of racial issues embedded in the game, allows for a more detailed account of the 1960’s setting, one that forces players to confront real issues such as racism, segregation and violence.

Video game developers have usually ignored depicting such a contentious period, but developer Hanger 13 successfully captures the life of a black mobster in the 1960’s by using historical footage and the excellent voice acting to bring the games lavish cut-scenes to life. Even the city of New Bordeaux – with its true-to- life period details, soundtracks, detailed cars, buildings, and historical documentary cuttings – creates an authentic open-world game; one that enriches players with other tasks to complete other than the main story.

As you progress in the story, main missions are accomplished by completing smaller side quests. Each of the side-missions consists of murdering targets, destroying shipments, and killing district leaders, all in the pursuit of reaping some righteous vengeance against Sal Marcano and his henchmen. Though Mafia III’s campaign contains some intense, action-filled moments, each of Mafia III’s missions are hidden under a pile of recurring filler quests.

 

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Clay attempts to  stealth kill a rival mafia leader. Screenshot from Ps4 game-play. (Hanger 13/2K Games).

Within that repetitive loop, most of the exchanges in the game take the form of shooting or fighting. Combat is just this awesome visceral dance of violence, with Lincoln dangerous from both far-range and up-close combat. There is this moment when the firing pin clicks and you have no more bullets left and instead of worrying, you rely on your ability to overcome enemies by using your close-quarter skills. Lincoln’s military training is instantly recognizable in moments like these, but the AI’s simplistic behavior makes it almost too easy to defeat enemies.

In addition, Mafia III fails to distinguish itself from other sandbox shooters like Grand Theft Auto, and its core mechanics cannot seem to master the basics; swapping cover feels awkward, AI feels unsophisticated, mission structure is repetitive and combat is all too easy. These issues are somewhat forgivable in light of the game’s outstanding storytelling, plot design, and voice work, but it is difficult to forgive Mafia III’s technical issues.

While it is very uncommon for a video game to be bug-free, the multitude of glitches present in the game is obvious. Coupled with the games many technical problems, the games poor graphics, flat textures, lighting issues only serves to highlight that the game was released unfinished. Despite the games technical and graphical disappointments, Mafia III writing, storytelling, themes, and acting are superb, but the game’s repetitive missions and technical issues drag the experience down even further.

 

Verdict 7.5/10

Pros Cons
Immersive Storytelling

Historical footages
Impressive acting
Expansive open world
Representation of racial themes during the 1960s

 

Repetitive mission structure

Graphical issues – Flat textures, shadow, lighting issues
Glitches

 

 

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