After years of wait Mafia III has finally been released. The Mafia series has such a history with us here at Gaming Conviction. I had purchased Mafia II at launch and found myself really enjoying the game and considered it one of the best games of 2010. I even convinced Andrew to play it despite his non-interest in mafia and gang style games, and he even really enjoyed it. We even both went on to praise the game in a podcast and it helped get the bad taste out of our mouths from playing Sniper: Ghost Warrior the same week. So to say that we were excited for Mafia III to release would be an understatement. Now that it’s out my reaction is….Meh.
In Mafia III you play as Lincoln Clay as he comes back to New Bordeaux after a deployment to Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Lincoln comes back to his surrogate father Sammy Robinson who actually runs his own black mob and is in a war with the Haitians. This has also led to him having debt with the Don of the Marcano crime family Sal Marcano. This leads to a heist with Sal’s son Giorgi where you robb the Lousiana Federal Reserve. This heist is successful, but results in Sal and Giorgi turning on them, killing Sammy Robison and Lincoln’s friends. Lincoln also gets shot point blank in the head, but miraculously survives. This results in Lincoln Clay seeking revenge on Sal Marcano and everyone involved in the Marcano crime family.
The first thing you will notice is that the game does take place shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and there are still lots of prejudice during the time. You will be hearing the N word as well as other derogatory words throughout the game. The other thing you will notice is that parts of the story is played in modern times to appear as if somebody is filming a documentary about Lincoln Clay. This documentary style is very interesting and amazing as it makes you more interested in the story and what Lincoln is like. The documentary style cut scenes are one of the best things in this game by far. The documentary style isn’t seen much and it comes across as something very original.
I want to start with the positives in the game and the first thing I can think of besides the documentary style cut scenes is the gun fights themselves. Those are an improvement from Mafia II and always feels intense no matter how long you’ve played the game. With health regeneration while in cover and adrenaline shots from medicine cabinets the battle system will always provided some heart-pounding action. It also helps that when you die you automatically lose half the money you have on you. This is why putting your money in a safe at your safe house is very important. The amount of times I would get caught up in the story and end up looking 25K due to an intense shootout left me both satisfied and frustrated. Much like Splinter Cell: Conviction, you have the option to go in very stealth-like or go in guns blazing. This along with options to do some of the bigger storyline missions in different ways can help keep the game feeling fresh.
Before we go into the negatives I need to point out that Lincoln Clay is a complete badass. During one of the first missions of the game you kill the head of the Redneck Mafia and kill them in brutal fashion. Lincoln puts his neck around a noose and ties him to a Ferris wheel inside an abandoned theme park. This means that he gets hung from a top of the Ferris wheel after Lincoln pulls the switch. The police and residents of New Bordeux will talk about how gruesome it was and think what kind of sadistic freak would do such a thing.This makes you wonder that if this is what Lincoln Clay will do to someone at the beginning of the game, what other kind of brutal fatalities will this guy pull of. Sadly, most of the others throughout the game feel lackluster in comparison. It was a little funny how somebody says they heard he threw somebody from the rooftop of a building and Lincoln replies “No, I just threw him out his penthouse window.” That made me chuckle by just how calm he said it, almost like it was nothing special.
Now we have to get into the negatives and sadly there are a lot. Part of the problem might be personal as going in I really did have high expectations. Much like others who bought this on day one I loved the Mafia series because it really does feel like a game based around the Mafia. Sadly, at no point playing the game did I feel like I was playing as someone who was a member of the Mafia, it just felt like a crazy lunatic just trying to get revenge. I’ve heard people like Angry Joe say that they felt that they tried to out GTA GTA and that is fair. Another tried to say that it was worse than No Man’s Sky, but while I do seem to understand where that person was coming from, that’s not exactly the right comparison in my opinion. There wasn’t a bunch of things promised by the developers like No Man’s Sky, but there were things that were cut out. Money seems rather pointless as you very rarely get to spend any of it anywhere. There aren’t any clothing stores to purchase outfits from and the only thing to spend money on are guns and explosives which you can have delivered by someone in a van when you reach the trust among one of your underbosses. The big issue with this is that you can get all of this just by participating in gun fights while taking over their territories.
My biggest complaints of them all has to be that the game feels way linear. Not since Watch Dogs have I felt like I had to force myself to finish the game. While I did do some side quests like trying to find the Playboy magazines and plant a wire tapping bug, there really wasn’t a point to any of it. It’s sad because you would think that wire tapping would lead to something, but doesn’t. My total playtime was 26 hours and I spent probably 20 of that going through the story. While that may sound good since it’s not super short, it felt longer due to how much it it dragged on. Near the end I was even not having fun with the gun fights. Many seemed to have issues with the graphics and one thing I will say about that is the cutscenes are way better than the actual gameplay. I’m going to note that I don’t have the best PC rig for the game as I’m using a budget gaming laptop with an Intel i5-6200U with a turbo boost of 2.8GHx and a GeForce 940mx. My game ran at 30fps (as did all PC versions at launch) with some frame drops at medium settings. Many reported issues with the game crashing and I had that happen to me once while another time I had the game randomly exit out completely for unknown reasons. I’ve read that some with new Skylake i7 processors and GTX1070s who couldn’t even reach 50fps after the patch.
Overall the game is just average at best. The game had a hard time living up to the surprising wild success Mafia II had which led to many looking forward to this game with high expectations. Hanger 13 have released some patches fixing some of the bugs and allowing up to 60fps on PC, but that doesn’t take away the very linear gameplay and lack of interesting characters besides Lincoln and Mafia II protagonist Vito being in the game. The only reason why I would recommend this game is so you can find out what happens to Vito Scalleta after the events of Mafia II, but that can and was explained in a short cutscene.