Platform Reviewed: PS4
Platforms Available: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Hangar 13
Release Date: October 7, 2016
MSRP: USD 59.99, Php 2695.00 (Datablitz)
I’m moving from open world games like Grand Theft Auto V to Watch Dogs then to Hangar 13’s recently released Mafia III. I have been stealing cars in my everyday gaming life. Then kill mobs, gangsters, villains, you name it. But each game offers slightly different experiences in terms of gameplay mechanics. The core gameplay of an open-world genre are basically the same: you travel, you do main and side missions, steal cars, make money, complete the story, and then make your whole game progress to 100%.
Now, Mafia III is quite interesting from a newcomer’s standpoint to the series. You read it right, I didn’t play the first and the second Mafia titles yet. I’ve done my research, and Mafia III is not totally a continuation of the 2nd Mafia game but a whole new story in a different year from the same world. Brand new gamers who wants to get in the mob gunfight action, you won’t have any regrets if you’re after the story.
Mafia III is an open-world action game that takes place in the 1960s when racial stereotyping was a big deal. The game starts with the protagonist Lincoln Clay, a veteran of the Vietnam War, who finds himself in a heist that would definitely change his life after. With a successful robbery, Lincoln goes through the horrors of losing his own family from a horrible massacre by the people he worked with. Filled with revenge and anger, Lincoln is on a mission to kill the whole mob-chain one by one, wrecking the whole foundation of the organization that is led by the mob boss – Uncle Sal.
The plot is not that different from other open-world games out there. Something happens to the protagonist, plots revenge, kill the bad guys, then the story ends (this kind of story reminds me of Watch Dogs). However, what’s unique about Mafia III’s story is all about personal vendetta and how the story is sequenced. The transition on how the story’s told is documentary-based, it makes the narrative more engaging. It’s impressively detailed, you get to experience the full prologue instead of a mere flashback scene that can possibly leave you hanging.
With a compelling story and interestingly sequenced narrative, the core mechanics of this open-world game is pretty much solid but also disappointing at the same time. When I say disappointing, it’s the combat aspect of Mafia III that left me wondering if Hangar 13 purposely made the controls wonky or if it was undeveloped. Sadly, combat is not the heart of the game, but something that feels more like a necessary chore instead of what should be one of the main ingredients.
Another downside of the whole gameplay experience are the A.Is. They’re predictable, easy to trick, and you can also outflank them easily without worrying too much. Some of them vigorously attack you in the most stupid way. And when going on stealth, you won’t have any problems killing an enemy even if it’s obnoxiously visible within a distance. The enemy’s “viewing range” is horribly short which makes the whole experience lack the challenge. You can sneak behind an enemy in broad daylight, choke him until dead, and still be able to get away with it.
Even if the combat is not all too impressive, it’s remarkable that Hangar 13 gives the freedom to the players on how to take a mission forward. There are different entry points to the mission area; and you can go on stealth as your other option on how you approach a mission, but it does take a minimal amount of your time to think your strategy. With Wiretapping (the ability to know collectibles and enemies in an area) and Intel View (able to see enemies through walls) at your disposal, it makes everything convenient and satisfying to complete a mission without getting caught.
If there is combat, there are guns! There are arsenal of weapons for you to abuse and use. Sadly, there is only a handful of weapons available for selection. A good note to take is that you can only bring 2 weapons at a time — one assault rifle (it can be a shotgun or a sniper rifle) and a pistol/SMG. Some of them can be unlocked after hitting a certain amount of earning from the rackets you’ve conquered. Speaking of rackets, these are the businesses scattered all over the city that you have to retaliate and take over to make your upgrades and weapons available for you to use in your main quest. You get to the mission area, then destroy a bunch of documents, ignite a fire on barrels of product, or kill Enforcers. The experience gives you justice at your first few raids but it fades out fairly quickly because of its repetitiveness.
The city of New Bordeaux is your main playground in Mafia III. It’s a fictional city inspired from the 1960s version of New Orleans. It’s the beautiful rich vibrant effect of the whole city that makes everything feel that you’re in the 60s. For an instance, the rain effects are impressive. When the rain comes, you don’t see water lines dropping from the sky but actual raindrops which makes the weather realistic.
One of the aspects of an open-world game is how big the sandbox is. Well, you would be disappointed of its “size”. The city is not that huge as Grand Theft Auto’s San Andreas, but it’s similar to Batman Arkham Knight’s Gotham City. Even if the city is not massive, I still enjoyed the sceneries. I usually visit at Vito’s dock area to watch the relaxing sunset. I take some time off from missions just to roam around the city especially at night to see how beautiful the city can be. I pretty much enjoyed strolling a beautiful city, and I could guarantee that you would too.
The visual designs are better than what I’ve seen in Watch Dogs. The facial expressions are amazing as they are. You can see how characters show their emotions through their expressions. The movement of the eyebrows and how the character smiles bring Mafia III’s characters to life. However, the game also has its graphical moments of failure. The graphical glitches in this game are disappointingly annoying. I’ve seen a lot of shadows flickering here and there, the water under a bridge covered with shadows looked horribly flat, and the time when Lincoln’s body went haywire – I had to literally restart to a checkpoint to fix the issue with Lincoln’s broken render. I haven’t played Assassin’s Creed Unity and experience the horrendous glitches, but Mafia III is a contender next to Unity.
Putting the horrific graphical issues experience aside, the voice acting of Mafia III caught my ears. I love how the casts portrayed each character — from Thomas Burke’s Irish accent to the lovely French voice of Cassandra. The soundtrack is also enjoyable to listen to while driving on the streets of New Bordeaux. It’s the 60s music that I love hearing over the radio especially The Rolling Stones’ Paint it Black and Patsy Cline’s Crazy.
It’s an enjoyable experience all throughout but that “experience” gets disrupted with sudden game breaking bugs and graphical glitches that ruin the whole bunch. Even if the enemy A.Is are not smart as I thought they would be, the story and great supporting characters has kept me pushing forward towards the end. Mafia III is still a good starter for newcomers into the franchise but that’s until Hangar 13 fixes those annoying bugs and visual hiccups.
This review is based on a review copy provided by 2K Games.