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Feature Article

7 Things to Know About Mafia III

Family is who you die for.

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According to the development team at Hangar 13, a lot of research went into building New Bordeaux, the fictional version of New Orleans that serves as the setting for the upcoming Mafia III. It wasn’t just enough to create a new city to rival former Mafia series setting Empire Bay in scope and detail; the team wanted to create an experience that is many ways could be called true to life.

In this microcosm of New Orleans’ sordid past, the mafia ran the city with surprising efficiency and a hefty amount of drama. To this day, as you walk the streets of the densecity, you’ll see storefronts that once housed dangerous criminals and cunning mobsters, and were home to people who sought to use New Orleans’ origins as a city of smugglers and cheats to their advantage. Even down in the bayou, there’s a sensation in the air that this area has a raucous past--one that it’s more proud of than willing to hide.

After a recent lengthy hands-on demo with the opening hours of Mafia III and a tour detailing the city’s criminal past, here is everything you need to know about New Bordeaux before you dive in.

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1. The game opens with a statement about its portrayal of racism and prejudice. As you start up Mafia III, the first thing you see is a note from the development team. The note says that the game contains foul language and terrible behavior connected to the societal tensions of the 1960s, the era in which Mafia III is set. In this statement, developer Hangar 13 says they do not condone or support this kind of behavior, but it was necessary to include things like racist slang and gross misdeeds to accurately paint a picture of the time period.

“Hopefully it comes off as a heartfelt note, because I wrote it, and it was a heartfelt note when I wrote it,” says Hangar 13 studio head and Mafia III lead Haden Blackman. “It really was just to acknowledge, ‘Hey look, we are attacking a subject that makes people uncomfortable and we felt like we needed to in order to capture the sense of time and place.’ There's strong language in the game that goes beyond race. There's violence in the game because we're dealing with criminals fighting criminals.”

“In terms of the concept of the game, the kind of line that we need to balance there is, what feels natural in this part of the world and doesn't seem like it’s forced in,” lead writer Bill Harms explains. “Lincoln uses the world in a very specific way because of who he is, and the world has the specific view of him for that very reason, and since it’s 1968 and it's the south, it's a very terrible year. Racism is part of his world and his experience.

“However, the game is not about racism. It's just part of the game, but it's not the primary focus,” Harms says. “Mafia III is really about Lincoln Clay just destroying the entire mafia. Because of who he is, those racial elements do come in and are reflected in the world as you make your way through it.”

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2. New Orleans may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think of mafia activity. But according to some locals, the reason no one ever talks about the city’s criminal past is because it was better run under the mafia’s care. The Matranga crime family, established in the 1850s and one of the oldest American crime families in history ran New Orleans through extortion and labor racketeering. They were so influential and so wealthy that after a time, even the police began to turn a blind eye to their activities. Members of the family known to have committed heinous crimes and murders were acquitted without a second word. But even as the mafia moved into selling drugs and running underground gambling and prostitution rings, the city of New Orleans flourished, and for regular citizens there was a kind of peace.

Some characters in Mafia III are also based on real mafia members that lived in New Orleans. Sal Marcano, the biggest baddie for Mafia III, is inspired by Carlos Marcello, “the Godfather” of the New Orleans mafia who rose to power in the 1950s. Under his leadership the mafia flourished, and he had numerous hands running from the city’s illegal gambling network all the way up into the U.S. Senate.

3. There are a lot of systems at work in Mafia III, and when they all work together, it can be total chaos--unless you learn to use it all to your advantage. You can be stealthing your way into a hideout only to suddenly be discovered and have your enemies call in backup. In the time it takes that backup to arrive, you can do one of several things: you can try to shoot as many enemies as you can before a fresh wave arrives, you can flee the scene and hope no one follows you, or you can take a moment to call in reinforcements of your own. (This last option comes with some pretty intelligent AI, so don’t be shy about using it if you think you can’t handle a larger enemy group).

These are just a few examples of what you can do while infiltrating hideouts or hunting a target. You can throw a Screaming Zemi voodoo doll into the middle of a room and watch enemies flock to it, seeking the source of the strange noise, and then bomb them all to bits with a grenade. You can strap bombs to cars and send them into hideouts, blowing your target up without breaking a sweat. And while you’re in the middle of all this, you have to be constantly aware of the police--if even one officer becomes suspicious of your activities, a squad will be on your tail. Then you’ll have to leave your target to find a vehicle and outrun them to lower your threat level.

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In one area of a demo I played, I was too aggressive in searching a closed supermarket for my target, and when the police showed up I was unprepared. Winning in these situations requires you to intimately know your arsenal and that you pull the trigger in a second to get something done. Lincoln can call in a weapons dealer to get new gear, order cars to be dropped off at his location, call for backup, or connect with someone who will dispatch the police (for a fee, of course) to prevent them from attacking.

4. Your associates can betray you if they don’t think you’re treating them well. Vito, Burke, and Cassandra--Lincoln’s three lieutenants, if you will--provide you with resources and connections in exchange for you giving them access to the hideouts and territories you conquer. But give too many territories to Vito, for example, and Cassandra may fly off the handle and turn on you.

5. This is not a hero story. Protagonist Lincoln Clay is a criminal, and having this kind of lost, emotional character in the player role was important to the writing team. “It's not always important to have a likable character,” says Harms. “You need to have a character that people can empathize with, and with Lincoln, it breaks along two lines. Part of it is, he grew up as an orphan and then he lived on the streets. He doesn’t know where he belongs in the world, and that's one of the reasons he joined the army. He thinks he can find his place in the world in the military, but he doesn't, so when he comes back he is still searching for that, and I think that's pretty universal.

“People get of collage, get out of high school, and at some point in their life they say, ‘Where do I belong in the world? What must I be doing? What should I do with my life?,’” says Harms. “The other thing is that he suffers a tremendous loss. Basically the only people, the two people that he loved the most, are violently taken away from him, and again, it's something that people can relate to at some point in their life.”

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6. You can feed people to alligators in the game. This is because director Haden Blackman insisted on cutting a cinematic trailer with Lincoln feeding a man to an alligator. After this, according to Blackman, there was no way they could move forward with the game without including this.

7. Mafia III is full of small moments that build its world in big ways. NPCs talk about Martin Luther King Jr. and President Kennedy’s assassination. They discuss politics and civil rights, commenting on signs of the times. In one scene, Lincoln and his friends flee a successful heist with “I Fought The Law” blaring from the car’s radio, the boys twisting the lyrics to suit the moment. In another, “Paint It Black” serenades a brutal murder. “Born to Be Wild” colors a boat chase. Characters tell each other that just because you’re home from the war, doesn’t mean you’re completely back. This smaller moments paint a larger picture of 1968’s New Orleans, and set the stage for Mafia III.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Alexa Ray Corriea

Alexa Ray Corriea is never not covered in glitter at any given time.
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Decapod_10

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Wow, some of the comments here are just crazy. This is one game out of the hundreds out there where they've decided to tell the story of a character who is black, and everyone's losing their minds over it. "I want to choose my own character", "I want my character to look like me" (so, a while male) - there are plenty of games where you can do just that, so go play those. I'm a white guy and I can't wait to play this game. It will be nice to play as a non-white character for a change.

I say for a change because, looking at my stack of 100+ plus games I currently own, and excluding games where you create your character, I can count exactly ONE game where your character is black, GTA V. And that hardly counts because you also get to play as two white guys. In fact, out of my whole collection, I only have five games where you play as a non-white male character. FIVE! Yet when one game comes along and decides to not have a white male as the lead, people complain and say it's just being PC.

That's why we need diversity in gaming. And that's not saying let's have all non-white male characters from now on. No, that would suck. We just need a few more, just to mix things up a bit.

7 • 
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Faye_Tallity

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@Decapod_10: I don't get why little boys complain about who they play, since I'm a female, I'm ALWAYS playing as a guy! So I definitly would like to see things mixed up! And not just for ONE or two games you uncreative devs! They could talk your ear off about how they came up with the details of boss fights, locations, enemies, secrets, fighting, costumes etc

If only they'd use that same enthusiasm when creating a main character, we'd have the variety we seek in main characters. It sure gets REAL BORING to think everyone who's a hero is white. I guess they're also too scared to make a bad ass female WITHOUT the unnecessarily large tumors. Thank god it's only a video game. And thank god female cops, & female military officers do not have to wear tight stringy "armor" wether it's fighting an enemy, or off to fight a war.

There are way more females that play games. There's no need anymore to use cheap tricks to sexualize the any character, to get gamers to play. It just makes them look like money whores. Stand out by doing something different devs. I dare you.

5 • 
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TitanExtremer

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I have been waiting for this game for a very long time. In my opinion, what makes a mafia game is not the time it is set in, it´s the character development and the story. So far it looks solid and i cannot wait getting my hands on it!

4 • 
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urbanman2004

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Never played the first 2 predecessors but from the looks of it the devs outdid themselves with this title

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RetributionKing

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Game looks solid, excited for it. Plan on buying it. Anything else is irrelevant. My opinion.

2 • 
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astralravenko

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I don't like it on first view, its not mafia and flow is not the same, its GangWorld I mafia is most Italian Russian and so this game is compliantly different game and i will give other title

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Jeg_09

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I looked up the comment section to get some opinions on the story, graphics, soundtrack, if the game is worth buying, etc. And all I see is about the protagonist being black. Geez. Really??

6 • 
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Sevuz7

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Edited By Sevuz7

@jeg_09: Welcome to the wild web which is also home of the stupid :/

Yeah I just look forward to the gameplay and story which I hope is gonna suck me in like the MAFIA 2 did.

They say it will be like GTA but with more focus on a serious story and and building your "families" strength.

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Jeg_09

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Edited By Jeg_09

@sevuz7: yeah. Story of mafia 2 was awesome. Only it was a bit too linear.

Hope they learned from that one and gave us more freedom with mafia 3.

2 • 
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JEF8484

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@sevuz7: Personally I like these games better than GTA- It's better to have a strong narrative then a bunch of useless quests to do- imo.

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Infaredj

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Feeding people to alligators, "...there was no way they could move forward with the game without including this..." LOLZ

2 • 
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MrLutece

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The thumbnail is very Fallout

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Phooey442

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@MrLutece: As a lifetime NOLA resident I disagree. Fallout is very New Orleans.

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Infaredj

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@MrLutece: LOL Holy crap! It IS! Wow! I thought it look somehow familiar

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Edited By kazeswen

Lets see what happens when the sales numbers roll in.

Will being PC pay off in dollars? I have no idea, we'll see.

At the end of the day, race and sex is irrelevant, they can make him Filipino if they want, as long as it makes $$$. Its all about the $$$$.

As more games 'ReCore" and movies "Ghost Busters" chase that PC route, we need to see if the money follows it. Cause if it doesn't then what's the point?

2 • 
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Slinqy

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Ironic that his name is Lincoln.

2 • 
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Phooey442

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@Slinqy: Where is the irony in that?

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EdwardNygma

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This game looks pathetic and worse boring.

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CyborIcarus

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@edwardnygma: why? it looks as good as any GTA game and the devs are focusing a lot on the story.

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sebbysebbseb

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the first two Mafia's were pretty good. Look forward to this one.

3 • 
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Killerious

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Boring.

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bottyburp

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No one dislikes a skin colour for no reason, it is the society and background they bring with them. Someone mentioned here that when you go into a white area your wanted by police goes up, on the other foot if the character was white, and went into a black area he would get mugged, knifed, sold drugs, then actually be told by black people this is a no go area for white people and police. This would have made the game more interesting if the lead character was white, fighting for his life against the Mafia and blacks. Could of been awesome, a double edged sword. 2k, you missed an opportunity here.

4 • 
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romer242

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@bottyburp: "No one dislikes a skin colour for no reason, it is the society and background they bring with them."... wow... damn that's ignorant.

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D-Man

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@bottyburp: LoL please scurry back up your ivory tower of white privilege where you and your ancestors were the victims of hundreds of years of slavery and oppression and then lecture us all about how Mafia III is "imbalanced"

4 • 
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Phooey442

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@d-man: Why did you get all defensive? I live in NO and this is exactly how it is here in most places. He never said anything about imbalance and was just throwing an idea out there. You think racism is a one way street or something?

3 • 
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swantn5

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@bottyburp: yeah but with media really going on this whole political correctness bs i doubt 2k wants that kind of media pressure

2 • 
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Yams1980

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this game sounds too serious for me. im more into light hearted games like GTA 5 and Saints Row that don't take themselves seriously.

2 • 
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SammyF

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@Yams1980: This right here is how a reasonable person disagrees with the decision to make an entertainment product that attempts to tackle socially fraught issues. @Yams1980 reminds us all that we don't have to take it as a personal afront whenever a game developer attempt both to entertain and to tackle a socially controversial topic.

3 • 
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Ice-Cube

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I really miss the Godfather series, I don't know why but the fact of recruiting guys, taking over businesses, getting your own businesses attacked and taken over was just a thrill for me back then. I really wish they made a Godfather 3.

Mafia 3 seems to resemble it so i'm definitely picking this up.

3 • 
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swantn5

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@Ice-Cube: i liked them too it seems that this game is taking alot of that formula and evolved it abit i wanna say

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hystavito

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Edited By hystavito

@Ice-Cube: Yes I liked them, and Scarface too. I think Scarface did the best job of making you feel like you are growing a criminal empire.

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Champ78

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There's only one thing I want to know about Mafia 3...will there be Playboy magazines to collect in this one too? hubba hubba!

3 • 
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fanirama

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You hear the n word in music videos, BET, in Harlem on the streets, Youtube, Xbox live, black people walking by say that to other blacks, black movies etc. and now people really lose their s and care if they hear some racist slang?

What is wrong with people? This is just a game.

3 • 
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swantn5

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@fanirama: political correctness its a pain in the ass

3 • 
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Scarshi

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Looks extremely interesting. Hopefully it will be stable. I think it'll tell an interesting story.

No ... I have no opinion on race or creed. It's a game. Have a nice day.

2 • 
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DLaney34

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I hope it's good. If it's anywhere near GTA quality, it qualifies as such. The team is so much smaller then Rockstars though - it's not a fair expectation.

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Sepewrath

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@dlaney34: Always found GTA to be extremely boring, this seems very un-GTA like which is why I'm excited for it.

4 • 
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JEF8484

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@Sepewrath: I hear ya- GTA is overrated imo. Its violent, but comes across as too cartoony and unrealistic for me. (Not that any of these games are actually realistic, lol). The combat in this looks much more fluid than GTA as well- which I find to be clunky as hell and surprised reviewers and people never complained about it. RDR is Rockstar at its finest though.

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