- Release Date: October 7
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Developer: Hanger 13
- Manufacturer: 2K Games
- Review Price: to be confirmed
MAFIA 3 RELEASE DATE, TRAILER, PRE-ORDER INFO AND EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Mafia franchise has always been renown for its ambitious approach to setting and open-world crime drama. Presenting something we simply wouldn’t find in the likes of Grand Theft Auto, even if it wasn’t nearly as polished or engaging. However, this could all change with Mafia 3, which may finally fulfil the potential fans of the series have seen for decades.
Set in the city of New Bordeaux, a fictional reimagining of New Orleans, during the late 1960s, you play as Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam War veteran returning to a society bursting with racial tension and post-war politics. As always, you’ve found yourself betrayed by the mafia and must embark on a truly brutal tale of violence and revenge.
Mafia 3 Gamescom trailer:
MAFIA 3 PREVIEW BY MICHAEL PASSINGHAM
I wasn’t massively complimentary about Mafia 3 when I saw 20 minutes of gameplay at E3. My main problems with the game were its extreme approach to violence that appeared to give the player no choice, and its slightly forced dialogue.
A week from release, I’ve had nearly three hours with a preview build and am pleased to report that one of these problems appears to have been solved.
My time with the game was entirely centered upon the prologue, which meant some of Mafia 3’s more advanced game mechanics were never shown to me. This included the management layer and the various abilities that let you call in support during missions.
The following preview contains very minor plot spoilers from within the first three hours of the game. You have been warned.
Mafia 3 sees you play as Lincoln Clay, a young black man who’s recently returned from Vietnam. It’s set in New Bordeaux, Louisiana, in the 1960s, so race is a central theme throughout. The game pulls no punches and makes no apology for its representation or the treatment of minority groups. It’s a sensitive subject that’s being addressed head-on.
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It’s not long before you find yourself getting yelled at for going into shops with “no colored people” posters on the door and seeing the occasional white woman pull her handbag closer to her as you walk by. It’s deeply uncomfortable and incredibly atmospheric.
It’s all helped along by gorgeous cinematics. The facial detail and animations in particular remind me of the moment I first played LA Noire back in 2011. A character might smile and it’s not just a pulling of a couple of points on their face. Every nuanced reaction to every spoken word is visible.
The characters are well acted, too. This is partly down to dialogue that actually sounds natural, and also down to the individual actors’ performances. The quality of the motion capture does a huge amount to further the script. I’ve never seen game cinematics this good.
There are some incredible flashback sequences and some deeply unnerving moments, and that’s just in the first couple of hours. I dread to think how dark things get later on in the game.
Unusually, Mafia’s story is told through a mix of documentary-style interviews after the fact and archive footage from a CIA inquest, as well as the right-here-right-now scenes. The effect of the interview footage is a rather unsubtle way of ratcheting up the tension. One character might say “and that’s why the terrible thing happened”, or words to that effect, before you’re whisked off into playing out said terrible moment.
The story itself develops nicely and rattles along at a fair pace during the opening hours. The game begins part-way through a heist mission that goes awry, before you’re tipped back in time to the day Clay arrived home from ‘Nam and see the events that lead to the heist.
From then on, Mafia 3 becomes a story of revenge. Revenge that involves taking over the gorgeous New Bordeaux, district by district, until the Mafia has nothing left. It might sound like a tall order, but with help from a CIA agent with similar interests and a few well-placed contacts, starting the endeavour isn’t as hard as it seems.
The footage I was shown at E3 (now available on YouTube) showed Clay as a complete savage, and while the extra backstory I’ve now seen goes to explain it somewhat, I’m still not convinced I’d be able to play the whole game without saying, “That’s not what I’d have done.” You might better agree with the choices – this is very much down to personal taste.
I played a few missions, most of which involved both stealth and gunplay. Unfortunately, both are a mixed bag.
Stealth is pretty bog-standard stuff. Sneak around behind convenient cover and quietly knock people out (or stab them to death). The NPCs are among the more stupid I’ve seen – you can whistle at a group of henchmen and only one will bother to find out the source, meaning you can repeatedly whistle and knock out enemies one by one. It’s a bit silly.
Gunplay is better. Firearms have weight to them and they’re not one-shot killers. They’re hard to aim, too; you’ll miss more shots than you hit. NPCs react (I presume) realistically to getting hit. Landing shots on non-critical body parts will cause injury but won’t stop them firing back. Only landing several shots will eventually see an enemy drop to the ground, often screaming horrifically in pain. If there wasn’t such ammo scarcity, I’d put them out of their misery.
In shooting battles they’re pretty dumb, again, and sometimes forget about your presence entirely if they haven’t heard from you in a while. Conversely, when you have the height and position advantage, NPCs will run towards you despite having no chance of landing a shot. They’re also very chatty, signposting everything they’re doing, including running out of ammo, moving to a new position or throwing a Molotov Cocktail. Thanks for the warning, chaps. I’ll be on my way.
You also get “Intel vision”, which allows you to see the outlines of nearby enemies, even if they’re obscured by cover or smoke. It’s useful, and explained briefly as a knock-on from Clay’s experiences in Vietnam, so I’ll give this sci-fi vision a pass. Just.
Hand-to-hand combat is fairly forgettable: you have one button for attack and one for blocking. Occasionally you’ll be able to perform a “brutal” takedown that’s not only incredibly bloody but also stuns nearby enemies, who presumably pause to swallow the vomit.
Mafia 3 is looking pretty good. While actual gameplay mechanics are mixed in terms of quality, it’s an undeniably fun-to-play game with beautiful cinematics and, so far, a very compelling story. Whether it can keep this up for the length of a full playthrough remains to be seen, but I’m tempted to pick up a copy for myself.