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Feature Article

Mafia 3 Review in Progress

A field report from the first six hours.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

When I finished watching the first episode of Stranger Things, I knew exactly how I'd be spending the next 10 hours of my life. I mean, I had to keep watching. And whether it's Game of Thrones or Gilmore Girls, that urge to binge watch is a compulsion many if not most of us have experienced. It's also exactly how I felt during the opening hours of Mafia III's heavily narrative-driven campaign.

The faux-documentary framing uses a familiar format that hooked me instantly. The atmosphere--which flows from both the rich, era-appropriate soundtrack and the intoxicating New Orleans-inspired backdrop--pulled me in further. And the characters, all of whom feel distinctive and memorable, deepened my investment in the events unfolding before me.

Unlike many sandbox shooters, Mafia III takes great pains to introduce its major players and flesh out their motivations. Rather than rush you through some hackneyed set up so you can skip straight to the carjacking and cover-based shooting, the narrative takes its time, lingering on scenes that make all the action that comes afterwards feel far more meaningful.

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Players looking to dive straight into the action will likely grow impatient waiting to be let loose in the world, but that just makes Mafia's admirable insistence on worldbuilding that much bolder. And that's not the only bold choice Mafia III makes. Its story follows a mixed-raced war hero working for the black mob in the American South in 1968, so as you can imagine, grotesque and abhorrent discrimination is pretty much the norm.

Certain players will undoubtedly recoil when confronted with the harsh, shameful realities of America's past, especially since Mafia doesn't sugarcoat any of it. But the setting is handled deftly, and it genuinely adds to the story being told. The historical context colors the events and informs certain aspects of the characters, though the campaign's primary focus remains squarely on Lincoln's deeply personal quest for revenge.

During the sections I've seen so far, racism was primarily depicted as a fact of life. Protagonist Lincoln Clay's tale consistently felt human rather political, even when he was gunning down apparent white supremacists. His story's a compelling one, and it happens to be set against a distressing but historically significant backdrop. After a few hours in that world, I'm not just intrigued, I'm invested.

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Unfortunately, I was less impressed with Mafia III's gameplay, which is mostly unremarkable--at least during the game's very earliest portions. As with most third-person open-world games, much of the action consists of running, shooting, and driving. At first, I found Lincoln's basic movements to be relatively clunky and imprecise. Similarly, I found the aiming slow and unresponsive even when I attempted to increase the analog stick's sensitivity.

I developed a better feel for both over time, but many of the mechanics remain disappointingly simplistic. Enemies, for example, generally stand in place or pace on short, predictable loops outside of combat. And in combat, they generally grab cover and stay put, periodically popping up to fire off a few shots. I only noticed enemies flanking on a handful of occasions.

The cover system also feels barebones. You can lock to a piece of cover with a single button press, but maneuvering between obstacles while remaining in cover proved less intuitive than systems we've seen in games like Gears of War and The Division. Even simple omissions made the shooting feel less satisfying than it could have. The reticule, for example, doesn't react when you hover over an enemy, so I often wasn't sure a shot was actually going to land.

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Ultimately, the action I've experienced so far has been fine--unoriginal and imperfect, but functional nonetheless. Over the course of those first several hours, the campaign opened up very gradually, adding and expanding gameplay options at a relatively slow pace. Once I gather better weapons and recruit more associates--unlocking the political side of Lincoln's power grab--I'm hoping Mafia III's gameplay will develop complexity strong enough to match its already stellar story.

And there's plenty of time for that to happen. I've only played roughly six hours of a game that will, in all likelihood, span dozens of hours. I still need to explore the expansive city of New Bordeaux and determine if it holds anything of interest beyond story missions. I still need to dismantle more rackets and dig deeper into the strategy underlying the campaign. And I still need to find out if Lincoln's story can maintain the same caliber of excellence it achieved out of the gate.

Be sure to check back next week for my full review, and for now, here's everything you need to know going into the game.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Scott Butterworth

Yes, his mother is Mrs. Butterworth.
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Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

Dang still no review for this game. Lol what's the hold up

Avatar image for RogerioFM
RogerioFM

Just finished the first few missions and unlocked side activities, so far the game is great, loving the story, gameplay and music.... man the music, it's amazing, not only the licensed tracks but the original ones too. Graphics are kind of a mixed bag, they're not exactly bad, so I don't mind, a lot of pop ups though.

If the game keeps up the quality, it's gonna be a winner for sure.

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cejay0813

@RogerioFM: Yeah if you love the music from that era, this game is a treat. Makes driving around in the less than stellar cars enjoyable.

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starjay009

The game is really good. It's not the best game out there (not many games are nowadays), but it's a fun filled, action game. The story is great, memorable characters, decent gameplay (a little repetitive) etc. We can easily overlook the graphical shortcomings if we play games for their story, and gameplay. Some PC users only care about fps and resolution. Those douches will never get it. I am a PC player, and once I waited for the PC version's review, it was easy for me to buy the game for my Xbox One and I am enjoying it now with an open mind. I heard there is a 60 fps patch now but there are countless issues on the PC version, reported by Steam users. So I am not buying this for the PC. I traded in my old X1 games, got this game for 40 bucks and am loving it. Looks great on X1, runs fine. That's all that matters to me.

Avatar image for cjtopspin
cjtopspin

@starjay009: I agree. Did you get any broken missions tho? I got a few so far...though I am not sure if they will work later or not. The third weed mission for the hatian and the third truck mission for the cuban lady. They show up but when I go out there...no truck and no boat. I am at the point where I have given the core wards to all my underbosses.

Avatar image for Keitha313
Keitha313

The game is good but It's nothing that makes me think its a 8 or 9 or 10 type of rating.

The game has you repeating the same old activities over and over again, talk to this person he tells you something then you go out in the world interrogate this guy get information kill or recruit him the Irony of recruiting him is you won't know what recruiting does it does nothing!

So once you've done the damage needed in the same old fashion i.e. destroying their shipments, cars or their professionals at their job you then move onto a take over the turf mission complete the turf mission you assign it to one of the three of your choices after doing this once to district you repeat that EXACT same phase one more time for the same district and you also have to do this every single time twice for each and every district, monotonous? I think so.

So once you've done the two mandatory boring mission scripts you then get to kill a big boss this admittingly can be fun for some missions they do it right others not so good.

The side missions are just like the entire main missions lol they remain in the same old boring format and they don't change much at all.

Next problem with the game... No garages, no buying of cars, no real car customization for seperate vehicles, no races, no clothe shops, no weapon shops, no property you're getting all this cash handed to you and all you really spend it on is small little upgrade or weapons you own all this territory and there is little to be done with it no complexity to the game whatsoever!

All these open shops etc and there are no real reason for them other than to store pointless playboy magazine pictures in them or album covers this is a missed opportunity big time the game could have actually been way better than it was but instead they've made it a fairly uninspiring type of game that doesn't want to do something more the gun gameplay is great and fun its fast frantic but I just have to be honest the way 2K showed off the game I thought it was going to be something way more than what they've gave us.

Then the boring dialogue of that priest and the story being all over the dang place its just a confusing mess why couldn't they have decided to keep the story in the now, they shouldn't have told the story the way they did in my opinion they damaged it but I do like the fact that they did give some choices and they did give alternative endings to the story.

Then finally the graphics aren't up to scratch don't get me wrong the game looks okay by all means but its not a game that matches GTA in that department and the draw distance in the game isn't anything run on home and brag about there are glitches/bugs about in the map with weird things appearing but the part that got to me was the horrible draw distance things off in distance look awful but atleast they didn't limit us PC games to 30fps for long.

You can either agree or disagreed but I'm thinking this game is a 7 or 6 out of 10.

Avatar image for marksparr
MarkSparr

@Keitha313: I don't agree with run on sentence after run on sentence in your "review." It also sounds to me like your attention span might be a bit to short to Keep up with the story. This game isn't, nor has the franchise ever been, structured like a GTA game. It's more about the authenticity, the atmosphere and story that makes these games memorable. The problem with most reviewers and users these days is that they are always trying to compare a game to another one and setting unrealistic expectations. It's like saying, ok GTA set the bar, and if the next open world game doesn't have AT LEAST EVERYTHING Grand Theft Auto has and then some, then it's a bust.

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Keitha313

@marksparr: Looks like the professional reviewer scored it in the same range that I had it in, that's the problem with me obviously.

Avatar image for couly
couly

I'm enjoying the game, there's not much outside of the main story, so what? The graphics are great with SweetFX. Just accept it for what it is rather than what it isn't.

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@couly: His review was spot on. Shut up and quit white knighting the bad parts. I have already completed the game and the story was top notch. That doesn't mean the missions need to be as repetitive as they were. Which was 95% filler. So seriously, shut up with "Accept it for what it is" because it is only this because of 3 stop starts and couldn't get the content done in time so they copy pasted 90% of it.

Avatar image for GRADERBLADE13
GRADERBLADE13

@couly: What is the exception?

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couly

@GRADERBLADE13: sorry Accept

Avatar image for Scarshi
Scarshi

I was full of optimism for this game. After playing the first few hours I loved the cut-scene animations and overlooked the fudgy/vaseline in-game graphics. I think that most of the budget for the game was acquiring the motion-capture hardware and research/development for that era and all its history.

The music is fantastic. The story is well fleshed out. Everything in-between becomes a bit of a chore. I did spend a fair bit of time actually exploring on-foot. There are lots of little details that can easily be missed when you are rushing about to get to the next mission. Love the collectibles. Love the weapons. I use a small shotgun and rifle combo. Packs a punch. Cars all have their quirks and love the heavy metal feel of them.

After 20 hours playing - it is half a game. A great game given another year of polish. Filling up the car, for example, could be overlooked. But I enjoyed those things where you know you can do those things if you wanted. Buying clothes, getting a haircut, going hunting (its the bayou for petes sake!) all none existent. I know this isn't GTA, but c'mon. Its based in America.

Not being able to jump in general is a major letdown except boosting over fences and set objects. So many things have to be run around just because you can't get up a 3 foot rise.

Bugs, glitches and weirdness aside; I could have loved this game. But its reminding me of No Man's Sky. An ocean wide and an inch deep. Pretty soon I might just watch all the cut-scenes on Youtube and be done with it. Just to get some closure.

Avatar image for deactivated-59aca989c9399

Mafia is kind the open world game that isn't really open world. I remembered playing Mafia 2 and despite having similar issues where there wasn't anything to do in the open world, It was still a fantastic game. I would drive for an hour and just listen to the sound track, Which remains my favorite by far of any game I've ever played. The world looked so beautiful and well done, It really brought that era to life.

From what I've read, The issues with this game revolve around lack of activities to do in the open world and bugs/glitches. Maybe people will change opinions a bit after a few patches but it's obvious that the game was a bit rushed. Wish they had taken more time to polish it before releasing the game and I hope they put out a patch quick to fix a lot of these issues. I'll definitely pick it up but will probably wait until it's 20-30 bucks.

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taykoon

This is goat simulator part II...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZokdmzvDGA

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@taykoon: you just have made me login in for a thumbs up , the last time i logged in were a long time ago, before site update.

my review: 7

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harrykid1

Wtf is that transsexual on the cover

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SimplyTheeBest

$20 purchase incoming soon!

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PIXEL8

This is is already getting disappointing reviews. Apparently, the open workd is pretty barren with little to nothing to do outside the main mission, and there are several complaints about technical problems, bugs and mediocre graphics. This was obviously rushed. What a letdown.

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HenrySix

@pixel8: the open world is boring. the only good things i can say about this game is that the story is good and the gun fights are awesome. i think it is a play, but not at full price.

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Wretch1d

I played the intro last night (where you get your reason for being angry) i am loving the game, i like how its a more serious GTA. On console i havnt had any problems nothing like the PC crowd, it may get crap later still early on but i dont expect so, for now though its been pretty solid.

Avatar image for caketoo
caketoo

If this wasn't a 2K or Mafia game it would already be a 3.5. This game looks awful and the mission variety is non existent. You literally go to same location twice to kill a bunch of people. The NPC models are limited, i interrogated the same exact guy 2 missions in a row. Environment is empty and restrictive. Horrible popup, an entire road construction site showed up 10 seconds after I crashed into it. No story or soundtrack can redeem this, this is a video game review not a movie review. Comparing this to GTA is insulting, hell comparing this to the driver series would be insulting to driver.

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sakaiXx

No fast travel? Dafuq its a friggin modern open world game, do you expect me to tediously backtrack for a mission everytime? Seems like a solid 6, only thing that can bump it to a nice 7 or overrated 8 isbecause of its story, heard it was great. Well not that Im surprised,mafia series is known for story so expecting this story to be amazing.

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uncha1n3d

This is easily one of the worst looking games ive ever seen, and I play a ton of games. On top of that, the frame rate seems to hover between 20 and 25fps with constant stuttering. Not even kidding. Sucks too, because the setting, story and characters all seem interesting but its pretty unplayable

Avatar image for VooDooPC
VooDooPC

@uncha1n3d: "This is easily one of the worst looking games ive ever seen"

That's quite the bold statement! I guess you never played any video games prior to the Xbox One/PlayStation 4? Go play some PlayStation 1 era Platformers that were trying to be Super Mario 64 if you want to see some actual bad graphics.

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@VooDooPC: Oh shut up. Are you literally comparing technology from 22-25 years ago to this game in the year of our lord 2016? Graphically, Playstation 1 and N64 games (At that time) were amazing graphically because that was the best we saw up until that point. This game has an outstanding story and gun play, mixed with horrible driving mechanics and copy pasted mission mechanics which serve as filler for 90% of the game. I loved the ending, the story, the voice acting. But playing through the game to get to that (and the end result) shouldn't be a boring grind fest for hours on end running the same missions over and over again to get to the top mission of any district which had variety and substance.

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VooDooPC

@Utnayan: He said it's one of the worst looking games he's ever seen. Did he say it was the worst looking game of this generation? No. Did he say it was the worst looking game of 2016? No. He say it was one of the worst looking game he's EVER SEEN. EVER.

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Karmazyn

Poorly optimized console port. Highest pre set + GTX 1080 @ 1080p = 56 fps, WQHD = 43 fps and Ultra HD = 23 fps. WTF?

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SimplyTheeBest

@Karmazyn: That's just one reason I have BOTH PC and XO.

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sakaiXx

@Karmazyn: well thats the cost of joining pc race.

Avatar image for andyng211
andyng211

@Karmazyn: when I tuned up the resolution, everything is still blurry, it looks like it stays at 720p and get upscaled. I requested a refund on Steam already.

Avatar image for Karmazyn
Karmazyn

@andyng211: i wish i could do this, I have got my key from keys reeler and I am stucked with this poor console port.

Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

@andyng211: So no matter how good or bad a game truly is, if it doesn't live up to your graphical standards, you want no part of it?

Interesting

Avatar image for andyng211
andyng211

@cejay0813: no. I pay 60 dollars for a AAA game quality product. Not a bunch of shit.

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peterhorner1867

@andyng211: ....and your 'AAA game quality product' is defined by resolution. Interesting...

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@peterhorner1867: No. The graphical fidelity is one thing. 720 upscaled is a result of lowest common denominator development and poor ports. What doesn't hit the mark here are copy paste missions for 90% of the game with a buggy ridden mess. I finished this game yesterday, and as a Mafia fan, I stayed with it due to the story. And it didn't disappoint. But I shouldn't have to slog through rinse and repeat missions (Around 16 hours of them) to get to the 2 hours of content that was worth a shit. And that screams Stop/Start 2-3 times in development, Publisher Pressure to launch (2k Sucks, period), a piss poor 3rd party company that did the PC Port (Funded by 2k so they obviously didn't care) using an outdated engine with horrible QA. Which is a HUGE shame. Because I feel a lot of people are going to quit playing after about 7 hours of doing the same exact thing and just watching the ending/story line on Youtube rather than slog through it. It will also bomb as a product (Sales Revenue) and 2K will blame the market/developer/genre.... Anything but themselves - and another one may not get the green light.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a807722de4ed

@peterhorner1867: It might not be THE primary factor but it's a primary factor. If Rockstart can develop GTA 5 on old gen and make it look better to or equal than Mafia, 59.99 is a rip.

Avatar image for andyng211
andyng211

@peterhorner1867: it means that developers actually gave shits about what they were gonna sell to customers.

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Madball

The Mafia franchise is always going to have an issue, which is it will always be compared to it's bigger brother, GTA. When this comparison is taken into account then I'm afraid Mafia III gameplay is lacking. I've played it for around 6 to 7 hours over the weekend and the story, voice acting, historical setting is really cool and for some odd reason but can't quite put my finger on it, wants me to continue playing.

My feelings on gameplay is that the enemy AI is rather useless, the stealth approach is boring, just hide behind a box and whistle to take out all the enemies or just shoot them from behind cover and they never seem to move from their locations, very rarely will then attempt to flank you. Some of the visuals are pretty poor too, the day/night cycle seems to jump between each other very quickly as if someone has flipped a switch to turn on a light. The reflective objects seem to look very poor too in some instances as if objects are radioactive (especially noticeable at night).

Another thing which I've found astonishing is that the game has crashed 4 times for me on my PS4 (3 times in a row after the same cut scene, which I had to skip in the end to get past it, how did that pass Sony's testing procedure is beyond me). The final crash just annoyed me as it corrupted my save and had to start again.

All in all I would say GTA is a far better product than Mafia however you have to take into account the vast amounts of money that goes into making GTA compared to Mafia and I'm pretty sure 2K are not willing to invest the same amount of time/money as Rockstar do. I believe that if Hanger 13 had another year or had a larger team this could have been just as good.

If I had to give the game a score now (only 6 to 7 hours in) I would give it a 6 to 7 out of 10.

Avatar image for HenrySix
HenrySix

aside from the bugs an glitches, this game is good. i would give it an 8/10. the story is good and the gunplay is good. not feeling the driving. the soundtrack is great.

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kwasiquartey

This is a step backwards for the franchise, won't talk about the bugs and glitches, and after witcher 3 am surprise developers are still giving gamers repetitive gameplay. Not impressed with mafia 3. Picking up my old Mafia to play again

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cejay0813

@kwasiquartey: Mafia wasn't repetitive? News to me

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Utnayan

@cejay0813: It wasn't. The mission types were all different. From Assassination, to smuggling, to device planting, to a race on a track, to countless other things. Mafia 3, 90% of the content is the same mission type over and over again to get to a grant total of 5 different missions at the top of each district. About 2 hours (If that) of original content in the mission type.

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ahpuck

If this was a smaller publisher, it would get a 5 or less. Lucky for Mafia 3, they have are backed by a publisher that spends millions in advertisement, I'm guessing it gets a 7.

Avatar image for PS2fweak
PS2fweak

@ahpuck: Lol...it clearly doesn't work like that. Some games from smaller publishers get high scores and some games from big publishers get lower scores. Destiny is still probably the most advertised game I've seen and backed by a huge publisher and it received a 6.

If you're a fan of this site you should already know most games won't get a 5 or less unless they're pretty bad. I'm hearing mixed things about Mafia 3, and games like that rarely get less than a 6. AAA titles that get millions in advertisement also get millions in development. Gamers can tend to overreact, but most games that get a lot of money and time put into them usually have something worth enjoying. Not perfect, but definitely not terrible.

You also can't pay too much attention to user scores when it comes to games like Mafia III. Too controversial for multiple reasons. I know of multiple people who flat out said they will NEVER play it, but they will give it a low score based either on the racial elements or the fact that it's not sticking to the Italian Mafia theme.

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ShadowsDemon

Cannot wait for this game. BUT, I have to finish Deus Ex: HD and The Witcher 3 first (yes, I know) before I can pick it up. But still, looking forward to it.

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mal123456

Going to hold fire on a purchase until I see some definitive reviews!