October 24, 2016

Mafia 3 - Review

Mafia as a series has always done well, though never spectacular, so after taking a break, the series has returned with a new look, at well everything.

This time, you are Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam vet who returns home to New Bordeaux, a city that is basically controlled by one Mafia boss, but at war with other mobs competing to gain control. Lincoln has been recruited by Sal Marcano to join in on a massive heist, but before that he is asked to take over the region that is controlled by his foster/adoptive father and politely refuses, but that is where things change. Once the heist is done, Sal and his family betray Lincoln and kill everyone in the room, but by pure chance, Lincoln survives and starts down the path to take down Sal and everyone linked to him.

From a story point of view, it is a pretty straight forward revenge story, where the game does shine though is in its presentation, as it is delivered more like a documentary, with people talking to a camera and ‘historical’ footage of events. As you act though, you will get to recruit families and groups to your cause, with most of them slighted by Sal Marcano at some point in time and all eager to get some revenge, but this is where things can get tricky, as you will need to balance your factions, keeping them as happy as you can, because if you don’t one of them might just leave and declare you an enemy as well as Sal. So how the story plays out will depend on the choices you make, so it is something to keep in mind.

As Lincoln, you have some training, thanks to your time in Vietnam, which explains how someone can be so proficient in many different weapons, tactics and such, though it must be noted that no matter what weapon you use, once you can get close to use the knife, its over in a moment. As your move through the city, you will need to use techniques to intimidate, threaten and kill to make your revenge possible, most of those moments come from the missions that you can undertake. The missions themselves follow the same basic pattern, you are given a big boss target to take down, but to draw him out, you need to defeat his sub bosses and to do that, you need to take down the street level thugs and it is a very much rinse and repeat of gameplay. The side missions do offer some distractions, taking to an airboat and flying across the Bayou in search of drug drops is fun and challenging.

Given that Mafia 3 is an open world style game and the world of New Bordeaux is quite an interesting city to explore, with the different regions and of course the Bayou, each location offers something different to experience. However, the city itself is not alive, nothing feels right, cars will move out of your way if you drive towards them, or they will move if you honk your horn, but the pedestrians don’t. I took a corner to wide one time, took out two sets of light poles and some signs and not one single person acted like I had done anything wrong. The city is like a department store clothes mannequin, they look right and even dress the right way, but they are not alive and New Bordeaux is the same.

Once you come to grips with that, there are many more chances to enjoy the world as it is, the cars themselves fit into a specific mould, where they look like ones from the era the game is set in, but without the real-world drawbacks, though the game will let you use them in a simulation style, if you want. Combat is more fun when the enemies don’t know your around, as you can take cover and sneak around, you will be able to deal damage to most of the bad guys in an area, before you need to engage in open warfare, but there is a problem with it. When you are in open combat, the enemies will see you easily, now while they are reloading, you can move to a different location and confuse them for a moment, but they will soon turn to your new location, even if you remain hidden. The Police do that well, no matter what your behind, they will spot you and engage you in combat, but while depending on the neighbourhood you are in, they might take longer to get to you, once they find you, getting away from them can be a pain.

The world of Mafia 3 does look nice, from time to time, the cars and buildings suit the period well, the problems come from when you stop and look at things closer. Buildings are nice from a distance, but once you get up close, things change, they look like a mess of textures, with parts not clicking in right. Characters look good for the most part, with Lincoln being the standout, other characters look fine, but there are times, some scenes with odd lighting, where they look wrong, with strange sheens of light around them and such, it is not a good look. The citizens of New Bordeaux sadly look more like the department store mannequins, more than anything else and its easily noticed when you go to stop them from calling the police.

One place the game shines in the audio, from the voice acting, to the games licenced soundtrack and orchestral, everything just blends together. The voice acting is spot on, giving the main characters’ life and bringing their issues to the front, even the lesser prominent characters are well acted, the only blemish here is the generic goons or people on the street, with a robotic delivery compounding upon strange dialogue choices. The music works on both fronts, with the games orchestral score fitting the action and period really well, but the star in music is the radio stations. While most people might think 3 stations is not enough, it fits with the period again, even with the small touch of having the switch between stations taking time, helping sell it. The style of ads on the radio, along with the presenters brings forth a complete audio package.

Mafia 3 is a fine game, while the story is nothing over the average revenge story, it is well performed and with some great characters, you will want to see it through. However the rinse and repeat missions draw away quite a lot of shine from what could have been a great game, mix that with a world that does not feel too inviting and you might find yourself only visiting New Bordeaux, rather than moving there.

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