What Can We Expect from Mafia III?

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The Mafia series has always been ambitious, showcasing a level of open-world drama and setting that exceeds even Grand Theft Auto. In other aspects? Not so much. That could change with the third installment in the series however. Can we expect more?

In Mafia III you play as Lincoln Clay, a black Vietnam War veteran seeking revenge for the murder of his friends by the mob. The game is set in the reimagined city of New Bordeaux, at a time when America was simmering with racial tension. It is these streets that you set out to control by any means necessary.

The premise is as pulpy as they come, but so far it is the setting that really shines. New Bordeaux is comprised of ten unique districts, and each bubbles with personality. There are the manicured lawns and Southern charm of Frisco fields; French Ward, a party district awash with neon and vice; Bayou Fantom, as secluded as it is unpredictable. The graphics look top-notch, and the city looks truly alive.

There have been some questions about the narrative that will drive Mafia III however. One mechanic of the game revealed at E3 was the choice to grant control of conquered districts to one of three lieutenants. How you choose to distribute territory can influence the story. Pass someone over one too many times and you might make an enemy. From what we’ve seen in the trailers, enemies do not last long in Mafia III.

This mechanic  means that not every player will experience the same missions. Which would be great – if it added anything. Instead it detracts from intriguing characters by forcing them into generic conversations. They hardly feel like characters at all. The violent confrontations that can arise from this look like they amount to just another gunfight. A third person cover shooter is nothing new. Then again, developers Hanger 13 know their violence. Maybe they can create something new out of tried and tested components.

Our protagonist could also be problematic. In one mission, Clay sinks a whole paddle steamer in order to kill one businessman. Many innocent bystanders are engulfed by flame or eaten by alligators. That might appeal to some gamers but many have been left wondering how we can empathise and root for a man who does such terrible things. You can mow down pedestrians in GTA, but at least there you had a choice.

New Bordeaux looks fantastic, the combat familiar but fun. We will find out soon enough whether Clay is a character we can root for.

Mafia III will be released October 7th 2016.

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