Mafia 3 Review: Badass or Just Plain Bad?

The year is 1969. It’s the year Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, Richard Nixon was sworn into office, the most famous music festival was held outside Woodstock, New York and Lincoln Clay took on the mob. At least, that’s what happens in Mafia 3, the latest entry in the series from Hangar 13 and 2K Games.

In Mafia 3, you take on the role of Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam War veteran coming back to New Bordeaux (a fictional representation of New Orleans) after a tour in Nam to a town that is run by mobsters. In fact, as a boy Clay is adopted by Sammie Robinson, the leader of the black mob.

Clay goes in on a job to help alleviate his adoptive father’s debt to Sal Marcano,

the Don of the Marcano crime family, as soon as he returns from the War. The job goes sideways, but Clay and the rest of the team pull through only to have Sal betray them, killing everyone in Clay’s surrogate family.

Revenge is as good a motivator as any, and Mafia 3 gives you the tools to exact that revenge in a beautifully crafted story. The use of flashback cut scenes and period-relevant dialogue make the story of Lincoln Clay feel more like a movie than a game. The facial expressions and voice acting during these cut scenes are among the best I’ve seen in any game.

The soundtrack only adds to the excellent storytelling, lending a hand to drive the plot forward. Whether it’s driving through the French Ward, blasting James Brown, or chasing rednecks in Bayou Fantom to the sound of CCR, the more than 100 songs in the game will have you enjoying the setting of 1969 New Bordeaux.

But that’s about all you’re going to enjoy.

While Mafia 3’s story is one of the greatest in recent years, the game-play lacks the same attention  to detail. Once you’ve taken down your first lieutenant, you’ve experienced nearly everything there is to experience.

The by-the-books missions are so generic and repetitive, it’s easy to see this is the area of the game they spent the least amount of time developing. While the cut scenes are visually stunning, the bulk of the game-play is plagued with too many bugs to ignore.

The controls are jerky, the lighting and textures aren’t quite polished, and the collision mechanics are unrealistic. While most of these can be fixed with patches in the future, it’s not something you’d expect from a AAA title on release.

On top of these problems, the game released with a frame rate cap of 30 FPS, somewhat of a deal breaker for PC gamers, some of whom have spent thousands of dollars to make sure they can run even the most demanding of games at the highest settings. The cap was removed in a patch released a couple weeks ago, but not before the game was slammed by negative user reviews on Steam. Even with the addition of a 60 FPS option and an unlimited frame rate option, the game is still lagging behind similar titles in the graphics department.

But while the graphics and game play is a bit shallower than one would hope, Mafia 3’s storytelling more than makes up for it. So much so that it’s worth dredging through the uninspired game play just to get to the next amazingly executed cutscene. If Take Two Interactive ever wanted to branch into the movie business, it would have an excellent story to work with in Mafia 3.

Mafia 3 is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This review is based off a PC code provided by the publisher.

Mafia 3 Review
out of 5

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