If there is one thing growing up in the 80′s taught me is that hell hath no fury like a troubled, nightmare-racked Vietnam vet with a knack for killing expediently and efficiently for his country. Brian Dennehy learned this the hard way back in the 80′s, and it seems Giorgi Marcano, son of New Bordeaux Don Sal Marcano, is about to encounter the same.
The Mafia series has had great success with its presentation of the life of a crime family hood in the 30s through the first game, and the 40s and 50s in Mafia 2, but with Mafia 3 they have taken an interesting and alternative approach. Mafia and Mafia 2 predominantly focused on Sicilian player characters, with Tommy Angelo and Vito Scaletta respectively, charting the rise of these Italian mobsters and their eventual fall either at the hands of enforcers, or losing everything they had gained only to be stuck in a cycle of working for the very families he betrayed; as was the case for Vito.
This time round, you play as Lincoln Clay; a multiracial orphan who is adopted by the local “black mob” boss, Sammy Robinson. Having grown up in the mob that controls the local African-American district of New Bordeaux, your history as a young enforcer for Sammy is touched upon, but never elaborated, with distinctly more focus placed on your role and activities during the ill fated war in Vietnam. Upon your return from Asia, you find that Sammy is having trouble with a local Haitian gang that is encroaching on the Hollow, and due to this ongoing gang war some debts are owed to the local Italian mob that runs the rest of the city under the leadership of Sal Marcano.
Taking on the Haitian’s and a government heist to clear his family’s debt, Lincoln, Sammy and his adoptive brother are all betrayed by Sal and Giorgi in an attempt to consolidate their control over New Bordeaux. Killing Sammy and Ellis outright, and putting a bullet in Lincoln’s head, they sadly leave him clinging to life enough to recover and swear vengeance on those who wronged him.
The story is introduced in a documentary style, with those involved in the events of the game recalling their perception and first hand knowledge of the events about to unfold in the game; the local priest, FBI lead investigator, family of those involved, and senate committee footage of your “co-conspirator James Donovan;a CIA spook who you worked with in the army against the Vietcong, and essentially bank rolls your initial foray against the gangs of New Bordeaux. These testimonials all work to build a sufficient amount of depth that would not be conveyed by just revealing your interactions alone. This balance of recall and preamble work extremely well, and can even provide some humorous comic relief, especially when you fail a mission quite catastrophically. (I recommend failing the boat getaway at least once. The ensuing interaction with the FBI lead is amazing).
Mafia 3 continues its tradition of placing itself on the serious side of the “open world Action crime” game that it, GTA and Saints Row each represent with differing levels of realism. With SR on the ludicrous end of the scale, GTA in the middle with its realism mixed with ultra cartoonised physics and violence; Mafia 3 takes a hard line approach on much of the game play that occurs. your actions will gain notice if you do anything that is deemed criminal. Stealing cars, assaulting characters regardless if they are bad guys or not, and running around with weapons drawn will draw the ire of the Police if they spot you, but can also result in upstanding citizens reporting your actions to the police if you aren’t careful.
As such the best approach is normally the cautious one, meaning stealth and observation are usually the more efficient ways to approaching a target as opposed to the run n gun nature of other titles. That said, the game is flexible enough that if you wish to go on a rampage of destruction, destroying enemies, civilians and law enforcement alike, it is entirely feasible to do so and the most you will risk is losing some of the cash you currently hold in your pockets. Given that it is mostly made up of money stolen from the corpses of your enemies, or recovered from one of their operations, there really is no additional risk one way or the other.
Combat follows a tried and tested formula, your character able to equip a sidearm and a primary weapon to use in combat, along with a selection of thrown weapons; the standard molotovs and grenades, alongside the bizarre screaming voodoo doll that can distract and terrify enemies. Cover based mechanics are fluid, with an easy one button cover to cover movement system in place allowing you to easily transition from one position to the next. Melee combat feels dynamic, with environmental kills and take downs impressively varied and distinct. Add into that a competent shooting system, with only the slightest aim assist, and Mafia 3 has a truly robust and entertaining combat system to complement the excellent visual and audio fidelity within the game.
To this end, the game is extremely impressive graphically. Character models have an incredible level of detail, with natural looking animations and expressions to truly bring out the best in the game. Couple that with the outstanding soundtrack with over 100 tracks ranging from well-known rock/Motown classics, to the more underappreciated or somewhat forgotten gems that appeared at the time the game is set..
Mafia 3 is not without its flaws. Like most open world games, which seem to be more susceptible to random occurrences, there are more than a few bugs that have reared their heads during the many hours I put into this title, from floating cars, broken physics or even clipping characters, to my character being able to pull off a kill move on an enemy through a solid wall. These minor flaws aside, minor as nothing truly game breaking occurred, this is a fantastically enjoyable and well build game that shines through regardless of the minor problems encountered. If you are hankering for some 3rd person action adventure, you could do a lot worse than to give Mafia 3 a try.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 8.5/10 Format: PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of Mafia 3 for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of a week . For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.