George Santayana once said “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We’ve seen a variation of those words throughout history, but the message is clear – if we do not remember our past experiences, we are doomed to repeat it. I think there is no doubt that we are experiencing this in our modern time. You would think by now that we have learned our lesson from our past experiences with racial injustice and violent turmoil of the civil rights movement in the 60’s. Alas, we have seen a repetition of social injustice, haven’t we? Haven’t we seen this type of violence in the past, and yet we have not learned our lessons and made progress in a way that finally unites this country? I think any opportunity to learn from our past mistakes could potentially be beneficial. And believe it or not, a video game gave us a fascinating look at tumultuous time in our history. Mafia III gives us a fascinating look at the 60’s while mixing in an excellent story of betrayal and vengeance.
First, I need to give a shout out to Hanger 13 for the efforts in telling a story and not shying away from some uncomfortable aspects of the late 60’s. Before the game starts, a message from the team informs the audience that they chose not to shy away from deplorable actions of a set of people in the 60’s. They felt it was necessary to tell their story and not censor specific words and actions by many characters and NPCs. It honestly is difficult at times to hear the free use of many racial slurs by characters. As my character made his way through New Bordeaux, I saw countless acts of violence by civilians and police towards the African American community. Hanger 13 could have easily left these little moments and dialogue out of the game. But the events that take place need to be seen in it’s entirety. It would be an injustice to those who lived in that time to leave out any aspect of what they went through. So thank you, Hanger 13, for not shying away from these events and including them into the game.
The story is absolutely incredible. The story revolves around Lincoln Clay, a military man who is finally home from Vietnam. Throughout the beginning of the game, we see little cut scene/vignettes with side characters who talk of Lincoln Clay and his life. He didn’t have it easy. However, he did the best he could and was loyal to those who took him in and made him a part of their family. Eventually, Lincoln is betrayed. Those who were closest to him were brutally murdered. Lincoln miraculously survived, and is on a mission of exact revenge on those who wronged him. Lincoln doesn’t do this alone. Turns out, the head of the Italian Mafia has also wronged some other people who are looking for revenge. Cassandra, Burke, and Vito Scaletta (your character from Mafia II) all join to help you take over New Bordeaux.
The gameplay is pretty simple. New Bordeaux is split up between various bosses and sub-bosses. Taking over is no easy task. Each district has a variety of rackets that you need to distrupt or destroy. Some deal in prostitution and drug running. Others run moonshine and other illegal activities. Each district has a specific amount of damage that can be done. Once you have hit that amount, the boss will appear and you will have the chance to take him out in the most gruesome way possible. You can complete objectives with guns a blazing, but that will usually end in your death. Stealth is most definitely your friend. Sneaking around and taking enemies out with your knife is the best way to go about missions. Killing or destroying property in front of civilians will cause them to call the police. The police show no mercy and are difficult to outrun, so avoid them if possible.
Now you need to be prepared for something – the side missions can be very repetitive. It doesn’t matter where you are, you pretty much do the same thing to disrupt the operation and flush the boss out. But honestly, does it really matter? It’s an open world game. There are bound to be repetitive missions. It would take a company multiple years to code and create unique missions for every single aspect of the game. I don’t remember a single open world game that has truly unique missions for every side mission. In my opinion (and it is pretty much my own opinion – most reviewers don’t agree with me), it doesn’t matter that there are repetitive missions. In my playthrough, each mission played very well and I did not get bored or frustrated with repetition. No matter the mission, they were challenging and played well. Of course, the main story missions are truly unique and are extremely enjoyable. I don’t want you to skip this game because of some side missions.
There are several cool features that I really liked about the game. First, you can access specific services when you control districts and have bosses working for you. You can call in a truck to refill ammo and buy weapons. You can call in a car to your location (so you don’t have to steal and deal with the police). You can have a car come to store your money so you don’t lose it when you die. These features were very helpful throughout my playthrough. The combat worked really well. I had no issued with stealth, the cover system, or melee. They all worked really well in bringing justice to New Bordeaux.
The best feature of Mafia III is the dividing of territory. When you take over a district, you get to assign it to one of your bosses. Each boss will bring specific bonuses to you and money to your pocket. However, you need to be mindful of who you assign to your districts. If you favor one boss over the other, then the neglected boss can turn on you. When that happens, you need to do what you do best – take him or her out. I love this feature in Mafia III. It makes you think carefully about your decisions and affects the outcome of the game. There are multiple endings, so make your choices carefully.
The setting and environment are amazing. New Bordeaux is a lively city with tons to see. NPCs have historically relevant conversations and you can see realistic examples of what people went through during that time. The voice acting and facial graphics are amazing. You truly care for each character…and despise the awful people that you are trying to kill. I had a few graphical issues during my playthrough. The lighting could use some serious adjustments. The sunrise is really bright and it is hard to see when it gets dark. Also, you can see some textual issues in various places. Of course, there are some pretty funny glitches that will hopefully be fixed in future updates. While the game is incredible, I can live without the collectables. I don’t really need to collect Playboys or naked chics on posters.
Mafia III is a textbook example of how to tell a story in an important historical setting. There are lessons to be learned from this game and should be played by anyone interested in seeing an up close and personal look at the late 60’s. Everything from the story to the soundtrack tell about this time and gives a sense of how important it is to our history. Don’t let glitches and repetitive missions prevent you from picking up Mafia III. You won’t regret spending 30+ hours with Lincoln Clay in New Bordeaux.
Mafia III is available for $59.99 on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC.
A copy was purchased for this review. If you have played it, tell us what you think in the comments below!
Thought-provoking story in a setting that reflects the time
Amazing voice work and acting
Exciting main story missions
Repetition that is seen in countless open world games
A little awkward hunting down Playboy mags