‘Mafia III’ is the good-kind of hot mess

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Photo Courtesy of Steam

A guys sneaks up on a victim in the game “Mafia III”. The game was released May 19, 2020.

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

When picturing the American dream, some might imagine a beautiful, massive family gathering in a quaint, picturesque suburb with kids laughing and playing the day away, barbeque smoke irritating a delicious smell for dinner to come and a sense of happiness enjoying company with family and friends on a beautiful day.

Then there’s “Mafia III.” 

The sequel to the 2010 title “Mafia II” by 2K Czech, “Mafia III” is a 2016 open-world shooter by new American developer Hanger 13. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor in depicting a bleak, violent image of what life was like in the 20th century, Mafia III pushes the series into the late 1960s, a time period wrought with racism, political divisiveness and poverty-driven crime, also including Rolling Stones music, so not much has truly changed. 

The story follows Lincoln Clay, an interracial orphan who’s adopted by the Black mob in a fictional New Orleans. He is raised by the crime organization and leaves to fight in the Vietnam war (to mostly escape his home). He makes it back alive, returning more grateful for what family he has nonetheless. His homecoming celebration is cut short when a quick gig with his mob brothers goes wrong, leading to the rivaling Italian mob executing him and his family out of greed-driven vengeance. Lincoln is the sole survivor of the shooting and recovers with a new bloodlust for the Marcano crime family. Teaming up with a corrupt CIA agent he served in the war with, Lincoln goes out to destroy the entire mafia with his own bare hands. 

“Mafia III” has a well put together storyline, with all the twists and turns of a good crime thriller. Not being a mobster, rather an equalizer-vigilante is a bit off-putting from the series’ roots, but Lincoln grows into an admirable character, whose sheer strength and brutality add a new layer of character to the usual wise-guy archetype familiar to the trilogy. 

The game’s best feature by far is its setting. It goes the extra mile in depicting a stylish, atmospheric ’60s deep south. Corny commercials riddled with anti-communist and subtle sexism play on your car’s radio, billboards and dinners project a clean and colorfully styled image that acts in contrast to the violent protesters, stoned hippies and inbred racists crowding the streets. It’s a time period of many things, and culture clashes are just icing on the cake to the game’s many mob violence set pieces. 

Lincoln is built like a tank and more than capable of turning into a killing machine at a second’s notice when facing off against droves of goons and crooked cops. Your arsenal of era-appropriate weapons packs a brutal punch, from classic drum-mag Tommy guns to the M16 straight from ‘Nam. Lincoln is able to perform melee finishers after the right button combo, breaking up firefighters with gruesome executions (that sometimes can trigger enemies to flee the scene in terror, so not just a cosmetic move in practice). 

The biggest detractor to “Mafia III” however, is the game being too big. The game is a 30-hour storyline, which is not a negative alone but negative in the lack of variety between such. This is not a Grand Theft Auto game, next to no free-roaming incentives or fun to be had outside dedicated missions. This cycle of mission to mission without break is tiresome after a while, and the lack of diversity leads to fighting, which causes repetition to set in quickly.

Nonetheless, if you enjoy a meaty open-world game and want to get in the ’60’s vibe and atmosphere, “Mafia III” is a good option (as it is the only option in the market of this kind of setting apparently). It’s worth a look, but check your expectations before diving in. 

Mafia III is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. 

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