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Mafia 3 Review

  • First Released Oct 6, 2016
  • Reviewed Oct 12, 2016
  • PS4
  • XONE
  • PC
Chris Damien on Google+

Bored on the bayou.

There's something undeniably special about Mafia III. The New Orleans-inspired setting and vintage '60s soundtrack combine with the incredibly rich narrative to create a sense of immersion not often found in triple-A games. At one point, I was shooting my way out of a swampy section of the Louisiana bayou to the tune of Del Shannon's "Runaway" and just thought, "This is the coolest scene ever."

But that feeling, unfortunately, never extended to the rest of the game. Though Mafia III's campaign contains quite a few memorable moments like that bayou shootout, they're buried under a pile of repetitive filler missions and underserved by dated gameplay, which adds little to the standard sandbox shooter formula we've seen in dozens of other games. And worse still, the game suffers technical blemishes from start to finish.

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The story follows Lincoln Clay, a man who is many things: an orphan adopted by the leader of New Bordeaux's black mob, a war hero who returns home from Vietnam in 1968, and the victim of a vicious betrayal at the hands of the city's crime boss, Sal Marcano. The ensuing plot follows all the expected beats of a revenge tale, but it culminates in a positively Shakespearean ending made all the more impactful by our deep understanding of each and every character.

The story mixes cutscenes set in 1968 with documentary footage shot in the present day and video of a Congressional hearing that occurs somewhere in between. It's a brilliant way to tell a complete, well-rounded story. Even side characters receive enough attention to feel three-dimensional, and tiny details like store signage and radio hosts expertly capture the tumultuous time and place that serves as the backdrop.

You'll even find a few nods to longtime Mafia fans. Mafia II protagonist Vito Scaletta, for example, returns as one of three underbosses who allies with Lincoln against Marcano. Lincoln's quest for revenge coincides with his rise to power, power he shares during a series of playable "sitdowns"--scenes in which Lincoln gathers his capos around a table to talk business. Basically, every time you capture a new district, you must assign that district a leader, who will grant you new weapons and abilities in exchange. But ignore one of your partners too many times and they might just turn on you.

You can only carry two weapons at a time, which is an odd restriction for an open world game that confronts you with many different scenarios.
You can only carry two weapons at a time, which is an odd restriction for an open world game that confronts you with many different scenarios.

It's a clever way to embrace the "mafia" concept and a welcome strategic contrast to the rest of the gun-driven gameplay. Unfortunately, the sitdowns work better in concept than in practice, in part because the perks aren't particularly well balanced. Vito and Cassandra offer plenty of desirable perks like a time-saving money collection service and improved ammo capacity for all weapons. Burke, on the other hand, can temporarily call off the cops, but oddly enough, I never found the cops to be much of a problem. Neglecting Burke became a foregone conclusion after the first couple meetings.

While the sitdowns aren't a resounding success, they are, at least, a compelling, original idea. The rest of Mafia III's gameplay, however, feels entirely unoriginal. The action consists primarily of bare bones driving and third-person, cover-based shooting, both of which we've seen executed better in other games. The gameplay is functional and even enjoyable at times, mostly thanks to the Hitman-light stealth mechanics, cinematic scripted takedowns, and gruesome yet satisfying enemy death animations.

But Mafia III does nothing to distinguish its generic moment-to-moment gameplay from that of other sandbox shooters, and its core mechanics can't even nail the basics--at least not completely. Swapping cover feels awkward, enemy AI is dumb as rocks, weapons lack variety--none of this breaks the experience, but it does land the overall quality somewhere between "fine" and "lackluster."

These problems are compounded by the campaign's exhausting mission structure. After the game's excellent opening portion, a pattern quickly emerges: shakedown informants, kill enforcers, smash up contraband, steal cash stashes, and, eventually, take down a boss figure. It's a pattern that makes sense in the context of the world, and those boss showdowns provide many of the game's most unique and memorable gameplay scenarios.

Problem is, that pattern repeats over and over again for the entire campaign, and the filler missions leading up to the bigger faceoffs never change. As a result, much of the game feels frustratingly repetitive. And while the city of New Bordeaux is immense, alive, and incredibly detailed, there's not much to do beyond the story missions. There's also no fast travel system, so I spent an infuriating amount of time just commuting to and from objectives.

These issues are somewhat forgivable in light of the exceptional storytelling--which kept me invested throughout--but it's impossible to overlook Mafia III's technical problems. I experienced everything from broken mission objectives to enemies spotting me through walls to a solid handful of hard crashes. And that's all in addition to the fact that the game simply doesn't look that great, with blurry textures, odd lighting, and object pop-in throughout. Though I encountered the bulk of these issues while playing through the campaign on Xbox One, I can confirm they also affect the PS4 and PC versions, though most problems seemed slightly less severe on those platforms.

Every aspect of Mafia III's writing--from the dialogue to the mission descriptions--is excellent. The obvious care and craftsmanship that went into its narrative elements should serve as a model for all other triple-A titles. The gameplay, however, just can't live up, and repetitive missions and technical problems drag the experience down further, turning a game that could have been truly great into one that has to settle for "fair."

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The Good
Clever, multifaceted narrative framing
Exceptional dialogue and character development
Decent number of memorable story missions
Conceptually interesting strategic management of your criminal empire
Expansive open world with plenty to see, though not much to do
The Bad
Too many repetitive filler missions
Core gameplay, though occasionally satisfying, feels dated
Technical issues, including broken objectives and hard crashes
No fast travel system, which forces lots of tedious commuting
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Scott marathoned Mafia III's single-player campaign in roughly 40 hours, though he's confident the game would have been stronger at a smartly edited 20 to 25 hours. He tested the game on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. All copies were provided by publisher 2K Games.
422 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for deactivated-5b2c8e0382c99

This is one of those very rare times I disagree with the review score. I feel like it's more of a 7. I know, one number difference, but still. I save 6s for games like No Man's Sky and Destiny. 6 might be a little high for Destiny, but you get me.

Avatar image for Gaskilla

The best soundtrack for any game in a very long time. I like how you can unlock new tunes when you pick up the album covers. I'm havin' a good time with it. But I have had a number of hard crashes. Sometimes in the middle of one of those long drives. It just drops out to the dash board. But I can live with it. I really like the game. It's easy to get into and the story is great. I'd give it at least a 7.

Avatar image for hugomungus

Lets face it this game was interesting for a about a hour only. This game sucked. None of the cars resembled actual cars like in Mafia 2. The missions sucked. The only good thing was the games soundtrack. And the only good characters in the game was Vito and Clay. It did not feel like a 60's setting at all. Everyone acted like retards of today instead of the way people did in the 60's. The game devs obviously had no idea what they were doing. They basically just took the old Mafia 2 engine and used a new map with new car skins. The game felt unfinished and very sloppy. Almost like a Mafia 2 mod. Another hard lesson learned that SJW politics does not mix with game development and marketing. Leave the race baiting at home and get serious when you make games from now on! I am glad I did not pay for this piece of crap. Thank god for pirates.

Avatar image for bot_renegade

@hugomungus: Piracy? Come on, dude, don't stoop to that level and become a complete fucking scumbag; we already have enough of those as it is.

Avatar image for ghara_dar

I like THIS GAME my score is 8

Avatar image for henrythefifth

I really like this game on PS4. Apart from the visuals, that is. But more of them later.

As a sandbox game, Mafia 3 delivers. I really enjoy exploring the big world, and hunting down collectables and such. Missions are solid, and the story good. Voice acting is excellent. So far so good.

Now, the visuals. They really hamper the console version. The game looks very last gen, like a mix between GTA4 and Saint's Row 3. Draw distance is extremely short, and there is an alalming amount of pop up. And the colours are awful. In other words, the visuals suck big time.

These sordid looks were a shock, and almost made me quit the game. but I persevered, and good that I did, because apart from the faded looks, the game is really good sandbox.

I do hope the developers update the visuals on consoles, but as far as I know, they have no plans to do this. Theyre not like Ubisoft, who toil relentlessly for months to update and polish their games after launch...

So, I recommend this for all sandbox fans who loved Saint's Rows and GTA4, as these games were visually rather crude too, but despite that, very good sandboxes.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

So much filler. Watching others play this game was even more boring than I thought it would be - and I wasn't even paying full attention to doing that!

Avatar image for rahjee18

Just got the game and it's indeed huge letdown from Mafia 2.

Avatar image for naotasback

SJW/BLM failure

Maybe next time , they'll make an actual MAFIA game.

Avatar image for jasonb520

Great story telling, but the combat system is weak. I have yet to find a situation where i cant sneak up on someone and get stealth kills, the AI is awful. Music is wonderful, well written story and great characters. Its bleh, never cared for the mafia series to begin with but this looked promising. Lets get a remake or sequel to The Godfather Series, that was a much better game

Avatar image for blikketty

You don't spend a ton of money on licensed music to play during driving sequences, and then let people fast travel everywhere.

Avatar image for marmotzero

I played Mafia 1 and 2. Both of those games had cities that you could drive around in, but I wouldn't really describe them as "Open World" the same way that something like GTA or Assassin's Creed is "Open World".

Mafia games are more like L.A. Noire - the world is there for immersion and ambiance, but there's nothing to do in it. And that's ok! That's the reason why you have to drive to all of your missions without skipping. I don't really care if the world isn't full of quests - if I'm playing Assassin's Creed I usually skip 75% of the boring side quests anyway.

Having basic, dated shooter mechanics is also not a bad thing if you're playing a game for story and immersion. Mafia 1's shooting mechanics are almost unplayable by today's standards. Mafia 2 had pretty basic shooting. Spec Ops: The Line had an incredible ambiance and story, but pretty basic shooting. L.A. Noire's shooting was bad... but if you're looking for story and immersion, all of these games were excellent!

Mafia 2 was a completely unique experience - I don't think I've ever been that immersed in a world before. It's a shame that some of the main story missions in Mafia 3 sound repetitive (that's a pretty big strike against it), but I'm probably still going to buy.

Avatar image for dilematree

I think it's funny as hell that people, including the reviewer, seem to be surprised about the issues with Mafia III when these were some of the same exact problems with Mafia II.

"Not enough to do in the open world"

"Too much time spent on mundane tasks"

Sound familiar?

Avatar image for deactivated-5ad5af79a96e8

I think the game deserved a 7 at least.

Yeah it has some issues ... crashed a few times on me. But some of the touches I think are quite refreshing. Like stealth kills, automatically drag the body to the position where you implemented the kill. So if you are behind cover, drag the body behind cover as well without any extra effort as part of the kill. Not noticed that on previous games. Always had to think about moving the body to cover etc after the kill. Then just subtle touches like going under a tunnel, radio distorts and cuts out a bit.

No fast travel system in this game I think is a plus. Makes you plan things a little. And the soundtrack is solid, so you don't mind so much driving when you have some decent music to listen to on the journey. And things like only being able to have two weapons with limited ammo, I think is more believable than people being able to cart around an entire arsenal everywhere they go. Overall I like the game, it does need some bug fixes but hopefully a patch will released soon.

Avatar image for tr4newreck

im half-way through and played mafia1/2 as well... the review is more less spot on... i can forgive some of the repetition of the missions, and unimaginative structure to them. But the low quality of textures(console yolk) and lack of other dx11 features coupled with a horrid framerate are inexcusable. It just shows it was poorly optimized for the pc... and has anybody looked at the skybox during dawn or dusk? it looks like an acid trip

Avatar image for tr4newreck

damnit Shakespearean ending, so they're all going to die

Avatar image for deactivated-5c56012aaa167

-Too many repetitive filler missions

-No fast travel system, which forces lots of tedious commuting

Phantom Pain also has these problems(Fast Travel System Sucks) but it got 10 from GS.Mafia 3 would have get 7-8 if 2K would have payed GS enough money (like Konami & Kojima always did for MGS games).

Avatar image for jasonb520

@dorog1995: Cant compare the 2. Doesnt even make sense to compare them. the fast travel system didnt suck, it made sense. You were dropped in and out combat zones, so for infiltration to be effective the fast travel is limited. Plus the enemy AI was much better in MGS. They could effectively call in support and make your op turn upside down quickly

Avatar image for deactivated-5c56012aaa167

@jasonb520: both games are meant to be open world so it makes sense to compare them.(even both of them have turned from a Linear to a non-linear game)

have you ever traveled by horse in MGS V ? going from base A to base B without Alarming enemies doesn't need any skill nor wastes your time every time you want to Safe Travel between bases because those areas are boring and empty and just waste your time in game.(the game also has Heli Rides which are pretty pointless when you aren't landing inside enemy base which is 99 percent of the time) from this review it seems like Mafia 3 has the same problem as phantom Pain.

Mafia 3 has repetitive missions and MGS V has them too.

LOL. their support are Limited and you can easily Kill them. they only turn the whole bases into caution/search mode only if you Hide/run from them.(if you kill them you can avoid that)

Avatar image for Keitha313

@dorog1995: Phantom Pain story was better it has more customization (real customization) its gameplay was an experience which evolved with how you played enemies adapt to your style there wasn't as much terrain to traverse in MGS5 compared to Mafia 3 I think that targets both of your points.

Avatar image for deactivated-5c56012aaa167

@Keitha313: you could easily send your support unit to deal with any powerups that enemies use. travelling in empty areas between bases and Heli Rides make this game boring. it also had repetitive side-ops missions.(most of them were just extraction missions)

and I didn't talk about the story. but I'm pretty sure that Mafia 3 has a much better story than Phantom Pain.

Avatar image for Geogyf

Seriously some of the Bad points dont make sense at all!

1."Core gameplay seems dated"

Does every game has to be innovative? Seriously you subract points for that? What we really want?

a) Completely new systems that reinvent the genre? (like many indies do, but ultimately most of them are memorable, they in fact aa gimmick and they cant really stand the test of time and as such their core mechanics or parts of their mechanics are never used by other games.)

b) OR tried and proven systems that stand the test of time? And what a 3rd person shooter can do to reinvent the genre anyways? There is a reason all GTAs have the same gameplay.

Avatar image for the1Jugg

This sounds like the same review as Mafia 2. It was an okay, sort of sandbox game. It wasnt nearly as deep as the Godfather or Scarface, but had such a well done story it was easily forgiven. It sounds like if our expectations are kept in check, and if you enjoyed part 2, you should enjoy 3 as well.... for the right price

Avatar image for kfear1

I give this game 4.

Music and story(no game play)

Sorry 2k.u make a very very bad game

Avatar image for kwasiquartey

This game does not deserve 6 , this is step far down from mafia 2, repetitive gameplay, bad graphics with lots of bugs on the PC , they had the opportunity to make a great game but just wasted it. Why create a huge world with nothing to do, they could have added an underground fist fight, was hopping they will expand that from the mafia 2, when Vito went to prison. No car race, they could even have added poker game, u can't even change clothes. All u have is going round shooting repeated characters, with poor AI. Its high time gamers boycott this developers from rushing games and giving us shit( excuse my language).

Avatar image for Keitha313

@kwasiquartey: Yep totally!

I think this game is a vast downgrade from Mafia 2 which shocks me the only good thing about Mafia 3 is the new gameplay which feels more responsive I loved the sounds of the guns I also loved the soundtracks and the voice acting was good but that's all Mafia 3 has that's its very best points.

I'm scratching my head on what it should get its a 6 or a 5 out of 10 I opt for 5/10 because I think when you compare it to Mafia 2 and 1 you only then realize how wrong they've went with this one.

Avatar image for smoket

In my opinion 3 of 10. It is far away from the mafioso style, clothes, behavior, arguments for shooting everybody, no family affairs. And come on ... the gorilla main character is not exactly mafia type. Rambo in the city, maybe, but not MAFIA. Wait for The Godfather and hope they do something interesting.

Avatar image for yumyumnomnom

Agreed with the review mostly. I would give it a 6/10 as well. The repetitive filler missions were so tedious to the point they got annoying. But I do give the world design team props. The game world is beautiful. Many objects in the game are very detailed, even insignificant items. If this game was an exact replica of GTA V but with it's narrative story gameplay, think it would've been a much better game. Have the same gameplay mechanics as GTA V and this thing is good to go. Unfortunately this wasn't the case.

Avatar image for timothy_480

People hate this game due to the black protagonist...

Its as repetitive as all open world games

The graphics are awesome!

Ok.... Based on everything I've read and the people I've spoken to, the story seems to be the main draw as well as the excellent characters that are fleshed out. Hence, the majority do not mind the black protagonist, in fact, most love Lincoln and his story.

It's as repetitive as Scarface. You know, doing all those drug deals that start out fun but by the time you have done 20 they get a bit frustrating?? Yeah that same feeling with the side quests in this game. Repetition is not automatically a bad thing but when there is no decent reward system or extra development after doing the same mission 12 times.... well that's when it doesn't work quite like Grand Theft Auto, Fallout, or any other game with generic fetch and kill quests. Not too mention... A game needs to stand on its own merits and not be judged negatively OR positively with a comparison to GTA 5 argument.

Graphics: By todays standards they do suck and the game is buggy. If not then can you please give me your console/PC? I imagine its the best gaming device in the world.

I'm loving the game but I'd stop at a score of 7. Story and soundtrack are fantastic and shoot outs are wicked when 60's music is playing in the background. All I'm saying is lets not make excuses for a sub par product...

Avatar image for liquid_plasma

During the first few hours of the game I think the review was close to correct 6.5/7ish

But after 12 hours now and turning the difficulty to hard its probably closer to 7.5/8, game gets much better as it goes. The longer I play the more I feel I disagree with this review. No fast travel.. to bad thats the idea, bad graphics...turn your brightness down, the detail is there, watch how Lincoln reloads an AK.

Repetitive missions/dated feel, you mean this feels like 90% of the other open world games of this type? Are any games going to not feel dated in the Post-GTA V world we live in?

This makes me want to go back an re-play Mafia II, see how it compares.

Avatar image for drviking71

@liquid_plasma: YES, that's true. Just turn the brightness down and the low-res textures goes away. WOW. What an Einstein we have roaming about here.

And shiatty' controls: well you just unplug your controller and keyboard, of course.

The 30fps lock on launch: Its obvious - you just unplug the powerplug.

Dont forget to send in a job application to the devs.

/Dr. Mabuse, angrily gaming since the C64/1980ties.

Avatar image for jay34mcr

@rarerichz: This was not about racism you retard. It's about developers and publishers shoveling sh*t and then expecting you to pay full price for it when it clearly does not live up to anyones expectations (except for the easily pleased millennials mentioned earlier).

If the story was so fantastic then why not release it as a movie or an audiobook instead of slapping a mediocre game engine to it and fill it with Ubisoft style repetitive side quests?

You only have to play it for a few hours to see that it clearly was not completed and it was once again a publishers rush job to meet targets and that's what this industry has become. Do you seriously think publishers care about quality or even gaming? They just want the bare minimum of cost to get away with charging full price and it has to stop otherwise gaming will become another globalist failure.

Avatar image for hordicus

@rarerichz: prototype 2 knew the same fate with an angry black guy.

it was a great game with pretty good story.

Avatar image for deathfeast

@rarerichz: I am black but I am sick and tired of blacks pulling out the racial card all the time.. FOH

Avatar image for c0mmanderKeen

@rarerichz: What are talking about? GTA had two black protagonists.

Avatar image for unikat

@rarerichz: if only they didn't give GTA San Andreas 9.6 and GTAV 9...

And it's not "the first game with a black protagonist" either...

Left 4 Dead 1 (8.5), 2 (9),

TWD Michonne (9)

Avatar image for drviking71

Well, here comes my third review.

-First I rated the game as, frankly speaking: a turd. Bad graphics, staggering movement, boring. Crashes to desktop.

-Then I actually played the game, and found the graphics ''ok''.

- Now, strangely, it seems the longer I play the game the better the graphics get. I'd swear this cant be possible but so it definitely seems.

Of the other wierd tings happening: I upgraded w. the 'pc-fix' patch. Result: noticeably Worse graphics and performance. Then I rolled back the update - and back to ''ok'' graphics. Also: when updating the destructable objects like glass, bottles, fences, lights both outside & in' ... all this stopped being destructable. A pity, since the amount of objects you can shoot down are one of the strong points, in my view. In this particular departement its actually better than gta 5 [pc version ofcourse - who could play anything else, and maxed out]. In all other, gta 5 rulez' but sure, I know: different players, different (bad-) taste.

Dr. Mabuse / angrily gaming since the c64/ 1980'ties.

Avatar image for erock831

I'm really enjoying the game, great story and great world. I would give it an 8 personally. I can see why how it can get repetitive but I'm playing this with some Overwatch Halloween event in between so it hasn't hit me

Avatar image for off3nc3

This one was the biggest disappointment this year , what a shame..

Avatar image for lordovdoom

The story's pretty good but the rest is just hide-whistle-stab, hide-whistle-stab. It's not a terrible game; it's just a bit dull.

Avatar image for peterboksic

I've played maybe a third of the game. I love it. No technical issues or glitches at all. The story is one of the best around. Shooting is fine. Maybe it gets repetitive later but at this stage i would recommend it.

Avatar image for kdogpa

I have to say this game is getting highly underrated reviews. First, it's much bigger and deeper than Mafia 2, and the story is better than I've seen in a video game in a long time. Second, while there are glitches etc, every AAA game has bugs and glitches, just look at Skyrim and it was still enjoyable and got great reviews. I'm playing on X1 and have had one hard crash, yeah the textures and lighting get glitchy on occasion but it's not game breaking. Third, it seems these low scores are the result of no preview copies. I've been taking my time with the game and am enjoying it thoroughly, more so than I did GTA V, this game is deep and these reviewers are just rushing through it to get a score out.

I really don't get it, this game and ReCore are 2 of the best games I've played this year and they both get low scores. To each there own I guess, I'm having a blast and sometimes can't stop playing for hours.

Avatar image for sakaixx

I was right about the 6,the tedious travelling does bogs things down if there is nothing to do. Open world but no fast travelling is a huge turn off.

Avatar image for Darkhol0w

Too bad about the main's been getting on my nerves because of how many crashes I'm getting in this game (PC). I can't do some side missions because I can't get the trucks back to warehouses because I get a crash half way..same goes for lenghty cutscenes.

Mafia III More Info

  • First Released Oct 6, 2016
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Mafia III introduces Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam veteran in New Orleans.
    Average Rating373 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Mafia III
    Developed by:
    Hangar 13
    Published by:
    2K Games
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs