Having finished my first playthrough of the release sometime last week, I took a moment or two to sit back and appreciate what a great game Mafia III ended up being. I love the new open world, New Bordeaux is a wonderfully gorgeous setting that contains stunning things to look at. I thought the combat mechanics were spectacular, I felt as though I was an unstoppable force, and I could really feel the soldier in Lincoln Clay. The way he moves, the satisfaction I got from spraying anything and everything with my Hartmann, and hauling enemies over a table to gore my blade through their throats. Its safe to say that at the beginning of the game up until the final scene, I felt like a monster!
I personally think the driving is impeccable, drifting around in my Samson Drifter narrowly avoiding pedestrians and flying pass oncoming traffic with Animals playing loudly in the background as I thunderously made my way into the Bayou to jack some moonshine was an amazing experience! The way you were able to manoeuvre in the more flashy, flamboyant vehicles was one of my favourite things about the game.
I love Lincoln Clay, I think he's a very strong character and the more you got to see him develop, and learn about his past, the more likable of a role he became. He's monstrous, powerful, tactical, caring, devoted, true-hearted, yet emotional and broken all the same. I think his story was told very well, I enjoyed the narrative of the game and the last encounter with Sal Marcano was well thought of. The idea of multiple conclusions to Lincoln's story was a very good touch, and I'm yet to look forward to putting down the hero of Mafia II or leaving the empire that we establish behind.
The characters were interesting, particularly the prominent ones. I developed a quick liking towards those such as John Donovan, Father James, Thomas Burke, Giorgi Marcano, and hell - even Sal Marcano himself! The performance of each character was great, and the cut scenes in the game were all thoroughly enjoyable to watch.
Now, let me talk about what I'm not entirely keen on about Mafia III.
Despite how beautiful New Bordeaux is, you don't really get to see a lot of it throughout playing the story. You spend very little time in each district repeating the exact same actions in the last district you took control of. The side missions either take you all the way down to the Bayou or the least interesting parts of the city, where once again, you do precisely the same thing you did the last time you lent a helping hand to one of your underbosses or their associates. I might not be able to say the same for everyone else, but by the end of Mafia II I had gotten attached to Empire Bay, I feel like you really got to know the city. On the other hand, you have to take it upon yourself to explore New Bordeaux if you really want to appreciate the scenery. But is it really worth cruising around with not all that much to do?
Its no secret that the gameplay in Mafia III grows repetitive, there's only so many red necks and guidos you can sever the necks of before it gets a little tiring. Near enough every mission consists of the same format, the enemy AI isn't entirely intellectual, and I never found myself in a particularly challenging predicament. Don't get me wrong, it isn't as though I had gotten to the point I would dread turning on my console to jump back into the shoes of Lincoln Clay, but by the end of the game it felt a tad tedious. I would sometimes find myself more excited to see Vito Scaletta and find out what happened to Joe Barbaro after the events of Mafia II than I was to make it to the end of this game. And even the outcome of that revelation wound up being a disappointing one.
Influential enemies such as the caporegimes should have had bigger roles. When I play a game, I want to despise the people I'm going up against. You remember the buzz you got when you saw Joe spray Alberto Clemente in the face with a tommy gun? So do I. That's the way I want to feel every time I bring an end to a boss's life. But I actually really liked Sal Marcano, I saw reason behind his actions and almost had some sort of respect for him upon discovering he wants to lead a legitimate life. I didn't share Lincoln's hatred for Marcano's organisation.
Although I appreciate the open world Hangar 13 developed for us to throw ourselves into, I know they could've done much more with it. The story of the game was interesting enough for me to want to make it to the end of Lincoln's journey but it wasn't as compelling as its predecessor's. I felt more like I was playing a new Grand Theft Auto game, rather than a fresh installment in the Mafia franchise.
Was Mafia III a failure? No. Did it have the potential to be better? Yes. Was I disappointed in the outcome of the game? Slightly. But I need to bear in mind that Mafia III is Hangar 13's first product as a team, and I would not have expected it to be perfect. The guys over there did a pretty great job taking all things into consideration. I'm still optimistic to see what they can bring to us in the future, and hopefully they'll have learnt from their mistakes by the time they get around to developing Mafia IV, aswell as pursuing the things that already work for them.