First Glance: Mafia 3

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Photo Source: CNET.com
Mob movies became near and dear to me growing up. I have an appreciation for violence in films, whether it be horror or in the crime genre. If the death scenes looked brutal, I would probably be a fan. Organized crime stories were one of the few things my dad and I could agree on. Not so much on Politics, but we could sit and watch Goodfellas on a lazy Thanksgiving and be perfectly happy.  Seeing the trailer for Mafia 3 in a local Gamestop sparked those memories and I was Instantly interested in checking this game out.  Playing out like a mobster simulation set in a less explored time period for video games, Mafia 3 takes place in the refreshing location of New Bordeaux (New Orleans) during the late 1960s.  You are put in the boots of Lincoln Clay, a mixed-race Vietnam war vet that gets back home from overseas to return to his surrogate family. The developers put an emphasis on the racial obstacles that coincided with that time in history to give the game’s environment a significant realism.  This issue becomes an important aspect to the games narrative.

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I have only played for a few hours so far but Mafia 3 is in my opinion is well done. It has come out with mixed reviews, but I am sold. It doesn’t come off as cheesy or as another rip off of GTA.

 Mafia 3 definitely has its own identity and gave me a chance to play out the story in my own style.  One of the very first scenes lets you set the tone of the game and how the story unravels.  They set you up in a room and there is a guy strapped to a chair with a potato sack drooped over his head. He is a loose end, do you kill him? Or let him go home to his family? I shot him and then immediately felt guilty. So I panicked and restarted. Whew…I’m a good guy again…MORALITYYYY! The more I played the game the more I became accustomed to the taking of lives, I am a GOD NOW.

 The open world can be distracting in a good way after I found enjoyment throwing sucker punches at anyone I could… One of the self-indulgent things I do in an open world game like this is to see how many people I can kill. Stacking them in a big pile like a psychopath, I get sidetracked exploring the rag doll physics and throwing around the bodies to see how they react to the immediate environment.  As creepy as it sounds, it is fun to try that.  

I figured out that certain vehicles could hold a ton of dead bodies. So I knocked out everyone who passed by me and loaded up my truck. Throwing someone by their neck is oddly satisfying. Yeah, this game just turned into a Ted Bundy simulator. The knocked out bodies bounced around in the back of my truck and oh man, how entertaining can rag doll effects be! I drove the truck off a bridge and watched as all of the bodies drifted to the surface… buns first. 

Needless to say, Story missions were a second priority.  I swam to the abandoned and flooded amusement park, messing around with the cops in the area.  I did notice that there was a lot less to do in the open world than GTA. Which isn’t a bad thing, it just means that the story mode is where they put in their focus.

Substantial effort was put into making the game feel like the time period it was coming from. It is unmistakably noticed how frustrating and ever-present the discrimination in the game was. It was intertwined in the heart of the game, but it did give the character and the backdrop more depth. They warn you in the beginning credits of the story that there will be racism. The developers want the player to experience a fair example of what it was really like back then and it’s importance to the story. I found it personally disgusting to actually hear NPC’s talk shit on you, call you boy and talk down to you… it was infuriating.  I regularly knocked out NPC’s that were running their mouth and it felt gratifying. Justified.  I can’t imagine having to deal with that in real life. The game does an amazing job of making the main characters story so visceral with discrimination and stakes that feel so personal. It feels like this surrogate family is depending on you and you don’t want to let them down.

Speaking for the graphical qualities of this game, the rough edges reveal themselves at times in Mafia 3 and can ruin the immersion in the game. The shadows and lighting regularly mess up and go crazy. The cops are pretty dumb. Which is convenient to doing lots of messed up stuff and still getting away with it. I know a lot of people have been complaining about glitches, but I don’t think that they are so severe that they ruin the game for me. Have I seen some people sticking out of the sidewalk? Yes, but it’s funny. So, that is ok and I am not going to go into a bunch of tedious glitches that are certainly livable with a game that has a great premise and structure.  It’s forgivable when some of the brass missed its polish.

The combat is run of the mill, cover shooting and melee attacks but it’s still satisfying mowing down rival gangs and mafia lords. I love sneaking around, luring people into dark corners with a whistle and choking them out. Saving women from evil Hattian Gangs… You really feel like you are on the right side of the impending war. Its hard not to feel bad about the main character being thrust into another war after just getting back from the horrors of Vietnam. Lincoln definitely brings the war home with him and uses his training to steam roll and smoke out rivals. I felt satisfyingly invincible most of the time. The player can switch between stealth and aggressive attacks at will and by having lots of load out options, with rifles, shotguns, and Molotov cocktails. The gameplay feels familiar and it’s very easy to pick up the mechanics and learn all of the moves. That can be seen as uninventive, but I wasn’t looking for this title to reinvent the wheel. I wanted a crime simulator and this game delivers.

Overall and at a first glance, this game is really something familiar and yet satisfyingly different at the same time. I am excited to get even deeper into the story and the life of the main character Lincoln Clay who is easy to sympathize with. The story drives this hope in ending an intricate mob war by getting New Bordeaux into shape. Remember, if you talk smack to Lincoln you will probably end up knocked out and getting dumped into a lake floating ass up somewhere. So watch your damn mouth NPC’s. I’m looking at you white suit jacket guy strolling around the college campus. Don’t make me bounce your head off the pavement.

-Mel

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