After a catastrophic series of events, Vietnam vet-turned-criminal Lincoln Clay is viciously thrust into an unfortunate and tragic predicament he didn't see coming. He is now out for blood, and a whole lot of it.
Mafia 3 strikes all the right notes aesthetically with a fantastic ensemble of characters, but at its core, suffers from a bad case of un-inspiring, repetitive and aimless mission structure.
In combat, although there is no room for error, cover-to-cover movement feels fluid in tricky, hostile situations, and the ability to whistle is a handy feature when wanting to increase your body count in certain covert operations. Weapon choice is limited at the beginning, but after time spent collating money and acquiring certain perks from your underbosses, upgrades become more easy to acquire. This is all combined with a straightforward and organised inventory system that’s simple to navigate through, which is great when you find yourself needing ammunition and upgrades pronto.
The game isn't afraid to explore sensitive issues of its time either, tackling subjects such as racial segregation, politics and corruption. Hangar 13 are unapologetic in their execution of these themes - going as far as putting a disclaimer at the beginning of the game - and, as a result of this, it feels like an educational experience as well.
Character encounters are some of the most engaging we have come across in a video game for a long time. This compelling characterisation from its cast is a significant strength, and the game would, undoubtedly, lose a huge amount of its charm without it. It’s captivating to witness the protagonists’ ambitions and integrity challenged, and to digest their outlook on the society they live in.
It’s a shame then, in a city with so much colourful character, that you aren’t able to interact with New Bordeaux with the same level of intimacy as in previous titles. Bars, pawn shops and cocktail bars are in abundance here, but are just for show. Mafia 3 lacks subtle interactions like grabbing a beer or something to eat at the diner, or spending some time in your apartment.
There’s also a lack of incentive. Mission completion has no fulfilling reward system for your efforts, so missions quickly begin feeling like a chore, rather than something to anticipate. The emphasis on stealth is more prominent than it has been in the past, and, in fact, the game relies very heavily upon it, quickly making things feel repetitive. Along with this, the ability to fast travel is non-existent. New Bordeaux is a small enough city to navigate by transit, but you’ll often find yourself spending more time driving than anything else.
Clocking in at just under 30 hours of game time, what Mafia 3 has managed to achieve in this time frame is commendable, and whilst we have many more hours to explore, we’re still taking great pleasure in sabotaging shipments and dropping bodies into crocodile infested waters. Mafia 3 strikes all the right notes aesthetically, and boasts a fantastic ensemble of characters, but at its core, suffers from a bad case of uninspiring, repetitive and aimless mission structure.