Sometimes as a reviewer and a gamer in general, it feels weird when you enjoy a game, which has not been getting the best of reviews. This is exactly the feeling I had when I was playing Mafia 3. I enjoyed the story, the voice-acting and the aesthetics of the game. I wanted to play Mafia 3 for an extended period of time, and the game allowed me to do that; and for me that is a better estimate of the value of the game.
Mafia 3 developed by Hangar 13 and published by 2K, is an action adventure game set in the 60s. The game takes place in New Bordeaux a fictional city created by the Hangar 13 team as a recreation of New Orleans, and follows the adventure of one Lincoln Clay, an army vet who returns to the city after serving his time in the army during the Vietnam war.
(+) Blockbuster of the month
The best part of Mafia 3 is the presentation. The presentation of the city, the presentation of the 60s, the presentation of Lincoln Clay, and the presentation of the story itself is all top notch. Very movie like and very polished, the story is presented in a series of flashbacks and interviews. It feels as if you are a part of a documentary unfolding. Plus it has that cool post-death animation (like in the Arkham games), when you die and one of the narrators remark that its not how it happened. It’s all very cool, and is another step in how stories are told in video games. Of course it helps that the game looks really good visually. The PS4 version takes a bit of time to load, but once its done it plays flawlessly with the frame-rate rarely dropping and you can not help but be wowed by some of the vistas.
In all these high standards, its the voice acting that stands out the most. Every voiced character in the game has a distinct accent which betrays their origin. Not only does this keep the dialogues exciting, but it also fills the game with the racial vibrancy which is a big part of the game. The Haitians, The Irish, the Italians, the Red-necks and of course the African-American all have their own recognizable accents, which adds to the depth of the story.
Content wise there is a lot to do in Mafia 3, and there is a whole lot of time to do it. Most elements though require Clay to fight through a variety of enemies either through stealth or through full on frontal assault. This can become a little tiring in the long run, but personally I liked how loosely coupled stealth and action were in this game, which meant even if I made a mistake and alerted the enemies, I could hang back a little and ease back into stealth mode.
In between all the melee and the skirmishes, Lincoln can spend his time collecting the various collectibles strewn across the city which include magazine covers (Playboy, Hot Rod and Repent) album covers of popular albums of that era, communist propaganda posters and popular Vargas paintings. The number of collectibles may seem overwhelming at first, but Lincoln can wire-tap neighborhoods revealing their location, and the game also offers collectible tracking at a granular level, making it much more easier than you would imagine.
(-) Pales in comparison
As is normal in such open world Action Adventure game, Lincoln has to conquer territory by territory before he owns the whole town. However Mafia 3 adds a layer of management to this aspect by letting you choose between various under-bosses to whom you can assign your territories. Each under-boss, offers different bonuses to Clay, as you give them more territories, and some under-bosses may feel ignored if you don’t assign them enough territories. This adds a layer of resource management to the game, albeit a very flimsy one since they don’t affect the actual game too much.
There is no multiplayer in Mafia 3, so you are strictly buying the game for its single player. On that front Mafia 3 delivers spectacularly. Its when you start comparing Mafia 3 to GTA, Saints Row and even The Witcher 3 where the cracks in the game start showing. Its not as varied as GTA, not as open-world as Saints Row and not as deep as the Witcher 3. Its not heart wrenching like The Last Of Us, neither is it hard hitting like The Walking Dead, or lovable like Journey. Mafia 3 is an Hollywood Action Blockbuster. You know what you are going to get but the ride is still very enjoyable.