Does the idea of blasting away racist mobsters as a 6’4” African-American Vietnam vet in the bayous of Louisiana against a backdrop of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and Creedence Clearwater Revival sound fun to you? Well, you’re in luck, because Hangar 13’s “Mafia III” delivers all of this with a satisfying and rich story and gameplay reminiscent of “Assassin’s Creed” and “Grand Theft Auto.”
Published by 2K Games, “Mafia III” takes place in a fictionalized New Orleans, known as New Bordeaux, in 1968, and follows Lincoln Clay, who has just arrived home after serving as a Special Forces operative in Vietnam and Laos for four years. As Lincoln reunites with his friends and family, most of whom are part of an African-American gang known as the “black mob,” Mafia boss Sal Marcano makes them an offer they can’t refuse, and things only go downhill from there.
“Mafia III” could have been a cheesy, two-dimensional revenge story, but top-notch voice acting and excellent storytelling make this something really fleshed-out and worth paying attention to. One thing particularly impressive was how the game handled the issue of race. Rather than tip-toe around the elephant in the room, Hangar 13 tackles it head-on in a way that will leave you stunned. Lincoln will be called names, refused entry to shops, and police presence and response will vary depending on the neighborhood, with rich, white neighborhoods being the higher priority, and poor, African-American neighborhoods being the lower.
When it comes to gameplay, “Mafia III” acts like you’re average stealth game. You lure enemies to secluded spots, quickly dispatch them, and move on to the next guy. Obviously, if things get loud, you have a wide array of weapons for blazing a path through all who stand in your way. Enemy AI (artificial intelligence) aren’t too intelligent, which is a shame, because the gunplay feels smooth and fun, and fights would last longer with smarter AI.
As you progress through the game, you will meet associates who will provide you with favors like guns, cars, and backup whenever you want them. This comes in handy, allowing you to prepare for a mission without having to trek around the city looking for supplies. The biggest part of gameplay is taking over districts of the city piece by piece, with different tasks that amount to roughly the same thing. This could get boring to some players, but the exciting, story-driven missions in-between make up for it.
As is common with open-world games, “Mafia III” is plagued by small, silly bugs and glitches scattered about. Nothing that will break your game, but things like characters and objects popping-in out of nowhere or a character animation going wrong will certainly hurt immersion. Despite these, “Mafia III” is still a memorable experience, and one that should not be passed over.
Review by Truman Templeton
At a glance:
Developer: Hangar 13
Publisher: 2K Games
Released: Oct. 7, 2016
Rated: M for Mature
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars