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Mafia 3 Dev Talks Connections to Mafia 2 and Why It Won't Sensationalize Racism

"All good art makes you think and stays with you."


When 2K announced Mafia III back in August, fans of the organized crime series might have been surprised by its decidedly new direction. But according to developer Hangar 13, Mafia III is a "true" Mafia game that does not ignore the events of Mafia II. Instead, it will tie up a lot of loose ends from that game.

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"At the end of the day, you're going to feel like this is a true Mafia experience and a true Mafia story," creative director Haden Blackman said in the latest Game Informer issue. "People are worried that we are just ignoring Mafia II, and that couldn't be farther from the truth. From a narrative standpoint, we are absolutely committed to making sure a lot of your questions about Mafia II are answered in Mafia III."

In Mafia III, you play as Lincoln Clay, a mixed-race man who grew up an orphan and later fought in the Vietnam War. When he returns, he goes to work for the black mob in Louisiana. The leader of the group is a man named Sammy Washington, who is late on his payments to crime boss Sam Marcano of the Italian mob featured in past Mafia games. Marcano kills Washington's crew and leaves Clay to die. This does not sit well with Clay, who embarks on a quest of revenge against the Italian mob.

Mafia III places a lot of emphasis on depicting the racism and prejudice against black people that was present in the deep south in 1968, the year the game takes place. Clay will face oppression in the form of racial slurs and being singled out by police. "The police definitely reflect the times," lead writer William Harms said. Design director Matthias Worch added, "This is 1968 in the Deep South; the cops are going to come down on you like a hammer."

But Blackman explained that Hangar 13 is not trying to be overly provocative with Mafia III's story.

"We are not trying to be sensational," he said. "But thought-provoking is something that art is. All good art makes you think and stays with you. If we can be thought-provoking in some way without being overly provocative, then I think we've done our job."

Also in the feature, Blackman is asked why the development team decided to make Clay a mixed-race character when Mafia III places such a special emphasis on the black experience in the south. He says it comes down to story reasons; chiefly, it helps hammer home how Clay believes he is a true orphan in the world.

"We wanted to continue to develop the sense that Lincoln really wrestles with any sense of belonging and doesn't really fit in anywhere," Blackman said. "For all intents and purposes, he's treated black by the majority of the city, but even when he's working with the black mob there's still a little bit of this, 'Do I belong here?' Lincoln is this guy who's a complete outsider."

Being mixed-race, some fans might wonder if it's possible that Clay's parents are possibly part of the organized crime family from past Mafia games. While 2K won't say who his parents are, it is believed that his parents are Dominican, not Italian.

Mafia III will be released for PS4, Xbox One, and PC sometime after April 2016. For lots more on Mafia III, check out GameSpot's preview from Gamescom.

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