Taking place in 1968 in the fictional world of New Bordeaux, Mafia III is a story of revenge, with protagonist Clay at the heart of all of this. Having just returned from the Vietnam War, Clay is on the war path once more in order to seek vengeance on the Italian Mob following the murder of both his surrogate father and other family members. The Italians, headed up by Sal Marcano, betrayed the Black Mob, killing everyone but Clay, and this is a mistake that they pretty much live (for a little while anyway) to regret.
Mafia III certainly makes a good impression straight from the off, as you find yourself robbing a bank, while being greeted with some fantastic cinematic scenes. The story in the beginning is a gripping one and it’s certainly helped by both the fantastic acting and well written script. You’ll soon discover that, away from the cutscenes, Mafia III isn’t the best looking game in the world, with many glitches, especially as far as the lighting is concerned, but in all honesty, it’s not really that bad and nothing that a patch from the developer couldn’t take care of.
"Soon you’ll have Clay treating New Bordeaux like a firing range"
Instead it’s best to focus on the game and it’s actually a lot of fun. Taking the guise of the likes of GTA V, with its large open world and optional side stories, you’ll see many familiar scenes as you go about missions, while also being able to steal cars, trying to evade the cops and open up more and more options as the game goes on. You’re main task throughout will be to overthrow the crime bosses by damaging them where it hurts. This includes breaking their prostitution ring, setting fire to their drugs and recruiting those who were previously against you.
What I love about the beginning of the game is that you can either take the ‘gun down everyone in sight’ approach, or you can go a bit stealthier, sneaking past the goons in order to get to your main objective. This gets tougher to do later on, but it’s certainly a nice option to have. Of course you can’t get away from the violence, and soon you’ll have Clay treating New Bordeaux like a firing range, with no-one who works for the other side safe. Luckily, with all these bullets flying around, Clay has a quick way to restock, as a simple call on his option wheel (accessed by holding down L1), allows him to call on the mobile arms dealer, so providing there is enough cash in his pocket, he can stock up quickly before the beginning of a mission. Of course there are often weapons and ammo lying around following the carnage, but it’s always good to be prepared.
In a similar manner, by accessing the quick menu, Clay can also call on someone to come and take his acquired money, as any death will result in him losing some, so it’s always best to bank the cash should it be too much for Clay’s pocket. Of course there are other ways to store Clay’s cash, such as in the secure safe which can be found in the basement of his safe house. It’s usually only a quick drive away, and a good excuse to get into any car you fancy and listen to the absolutely fantastic soundtrack, which in all honesty is one of the highlights of the game.
When it comes to what matters, the action and gunplay, Mafia III is a pretty solid game. Both the combat and aiming system seemed to work well for me, with hiding behind cover and gunning down the enemy being fairly satisfying. The game is pretty unforgiving too, so get caught out of cover and you’ll soon be gunned down. There is a way to heal thanks to the adrenaline found lying around in medicine cabinets throughout New Bordeaux, so there is some hope should you find yourself in a sticky situation and to be honest you’ll want to make sure you stock up on these adrenaline packs because waiting for the game to load again is no fun.
"I’m enjoying my time in New Bordeaux and am not planning to leave just yet."
It’s fair to say that Mafia III can get a little repetitive in places, especially when it comes to the missions where you are tasked with taking down another boss or having to get past some more goons by gunning yet more of them down, however the story continues to drive the game on, so you’ll likely get through it and feel pretty satisfied at doing so.
As with most open world games, sometimes it is just fun to drive around and enjoy the view. The world is well designed and there is a large choice of cars for you to break into and drive around in. On occasion you will get a witness run and call the police should they see you break someone’s car window, but generally you can get out of the capture zone before the police arrive to investigate. As mentioned, the soundtrack is fantastic and there is a choice of quite a few radio stations too, so you’ll likely pass a lot of time just driving around and singing away to the likes of ‘Paint it Black’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’.
Mafia III isn’t perfect, that much is clear, however thanks to the acting, soundtrack, story and well designed open world, it’s an enjoyable game to spend time with. There’s no doubt that a lot of effort has gone into creating this world and it has paid off. There may be some who find it a little repetitive in places, but I’m enjoying my time in New Bordeaux and am not planning to leave just yet.