Mafia III faces the unenviable task of not just following GTA V and all the improvements to the formula that game brought, but also succeeding 2K’s own Mafia II, a game that has, in the years since its release, gone on to become a modern classic amongst fans.
A focus on story brings Mafia III close to achieving that vision, but a slightly repetitive gameplay loop looks to undermine everything that’s achieved here.
I truly believe everyone should play Mafia III, even if only to see how confidently 2K have tackled the story here. You play Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam war vet returning home to New Bordeaux, and trying to slot back into his past life there.
Right from the off Mafia III sets its story up fantastically. In terms of style, cinematography, writing and acting this game is second to none – it’s such a masterclass in storytelling that it puts anything else out there looking to imitate the same big-screen style to shame. For the opening couple of hours I was floored, not only at the dark, complex story Mafia III was telling – dealing with difficult, era-appropriate themes – but in the way it told that story.
The game plays out between slices of a documentary about the life of Lincoln Clay and post-war New Bordeaux, using convincing interviews with side characters, subject experts, and even real world footage to frame this bloody story of revenge. It’s a phenomenal piece that, despite Mafia III’s other shortcomings, demands to be seen.
Mafia III’s biggest flaw is that it’s a fairly standard open world crime game. That this ‘new vision’ is wrapped in gameplay mechanics we’ve been enjoying and tiring of for over a decade. Slotting easily into the mould that Grand Theft Auto shaped so long ago, it’s easy to quickly become familiar with the many mechanics and distractions on offer here. Initially this is a boon, allowing you to enjoy the familiar gameplay whilst enjoying the main course – the story – but as elongated as these experiences tend to be, these familiar mechanics become overused and a little dull by the time the credits roll.
Nothing here is boring, mind. Main missions have some spectacular moments that kept me entertained, but often I was tasked with jobs and missions that I’d felt I’d completed twenty times already. Over the lengthy runtime of the campaign this can wear on players. This is made worse by the fact that there is no fast travel in the game, and for a title with a map as large as Mafia III’s this is a crime on par with some of the heinous acts you’ll be committing in game.
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