1968, New Bordeaux – the city of Mardi Gras and crime, spiced with the era’s typical racism. More than six years after the second game of the franchise, Mafia is back with a new setting and main character. Will Mafia III achieve to become this fall’s big open-world blockbuster?
Back from Vietnam
After fighting in the Vietnam war, protagonist Lincoln Clay comes back to the game’s fictional version of New Orleans and has to find out that family isn’t something you are born into, but rather people you would die for. His return goes hand in hand with many difficulties, and being African-American doesn’t really improve his situation. Mafia III‘s writing and documentary-like narrative is intelligent while also being interesting at all times, representing the spirit of good old gangster movies. Especially the early hours are absolutely captivating, what is impressive, given that most video games fail to keep a good pace from the beginning.
Is this current-gen?
New Orleans from the 60s is wonderfully portrayed, but when you drive on the city’s streets, the textures that pop up on the side of them simply cannot stay unnoticed. Mafia III reminded me of Grand Theft Auto IV when it came out in the early days of PlayStation 3 – it seems like the developers didn’t know how to use the current hardware at its full potential. The blurry graphics and weird lighting effects got topped by common glitches and multiple crashes, which simply don’t do justice to the game’s brilliant story. It feels like the game would have needed some additional months in the development oven, but even then I’m not sure if it could keep up with other blockbusters’ immersing open worlds.
New Bordeaux’s yawning void
Besides its technical flaws, Mafia III‘s open world is the next problem the game constantly has to deal with. Sure, the city’s unique setting can’t be seen in many other games, and sucks you in from the first minute – but it barely provides you with content to keep you busy. I was surprised how empty the map was each time I looked at it. With old Playboy magazines and music records of the 60s, Mafia III‘s set of collectables looked promising and induced an additional feeling of nostalgia. Yet, collecting them didn’t reward you in any way, which is lost potential for an open-world game. If you solely focus on the main story, it will take you around 20 hours until the credits roll. Beyond that, there’s not much to do in New Bordeaux, and without a quick travel function, cleaning up is a really cumbersome task to aim for. It seems like the developers exactly knew that Mafia III‘s biggest asset is its narrative, so they didn’t want to divert attention from it.
Less than it could have been
Mafia III offers an intelligent, movie-like story from the sixties, driven by revenge, racism and alliances. Sadly, the game fails to create a world that is at par with the narrative, and gets dragged down by technical lack of finish. When you ask me in a year what I think of the game, it’s hard to say which part I’m gonna remember more – the wonderfully portrayed characters, or all the times the game crashed on me.
What we liked:
- Sensational story-telling
- Brilliant characters
- Appealing setting
What we didn’t like:
- Muddy graphics
- Occasional crashes
- Empty open world
This review was written using an PlayStation 4 review copy provided by 2K. How do you like this Mafia game compared to the previous two? Did you like the New Orleans setting? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!