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Mafia 3 – PC Technical Review

mafia-3-blade

Oh dear. By now you’ve probably heard all about Mafia 3‘s issues on the PC. I mostly hadn’t: I’d at least partly kept myself in the dark because I knew I’d be writing this and wanted to experience things for myself, but I’m afraid the outlook is a bit bleak.

I should note that, as with everyone else, we’ve yet to receive review code. I bought into the Mafia 3 life with Actual Money (not acquired through racketeering), what with the UK release being slightly earlier than the US, but PC Invasion caporegime Peter’s the one who’s opted into a life of crime with a full review when/if code actually comes in. Me? I’m just dabbling, for now.

First things first, there is a launcher, and it has options:

mafia-3-launcher

The launcher is actually fairly inconsequential, if only because Mafia 3 does in fact contain full in-game settings, which are rather more detailed than this. I suppose it might be worthwhile if you set it to some sort of impossible resolution and need to change things because it just won’t load anymore, mind you. I will note that the resolution goes past 1920×1080, but I haven’t tried that out because I don’t have a monitor that supports it.

Meanwhile, the in-game options:

mafia-3-options

90 is as high as the FOV will go, though it defaults to 65. I’ve been fairly happy with it around 75, myself.

Arguably, there isn’t a huge difference between the two. The in-game options let you adjust brightness and turn off depth of field, as well as futz with the field of view – always a welcome option, although I actually didn’t set it much higher than the default.

The remaining options are pretty sparse, generally only allowing you to swap between Low/Medium/High, or On/Off. If you’re looking to carefully tweak everything to your exact liking, this is not the game for you.

The non-graphical options are nothing special, either, but hardly offensive. I’m pleased that there’s the option to minimise or remove aim assist; driving can be set to “realistic” if you fancy it; and there’s the usual smattering of audio adjustments, subtitles, and the like.

Let’s have a quick look at the controls:

mafia-3-controls

Not much to say about this, not least because everything is in sub-menus, but everything is rebindable. The default controls aren’t too bad, although a few choices are a little odd, and there some things that don’t really work on mouse and keyboard. Swapping between grenades by holding middle-mouse button (to bring up the weapon wheel) and then tapping Z (to actually swap) is just weird, for instance, and I haven’t found a way to change this. Tapping Z by itself might work, but I’ve had more than enough issues with grenades already that I can’t say for sure. Like, uh, I’ve never been able to throw one.

Also, for the record, I don’t like the fact that the way you’ve set the options is hidden until you highlight the option itself. It’s stylish, yes, but it’s not very useful for figuring out what you want to adjust.

So, Mafia 3 itself. It runs at pretty-much-maximum (everything turned up to full, but with Motion Blur and usually Depth of Field turned off) at the maximum framerate on my i7-3820, 16 GB RAM, GeForce GTX 970 system. The first time I tried this the framerate occasionally dropped a little, but it’s been completely fine ever since. That initial scene may have just been particularly intensive.

mafia-3-shootout

Combat is wonderfully brutal, although I’m already getting a little tired of the same takedown animation. But then I fed a body to an alligator and all was forgiven.

The downside: that maximum framerate is 30 frames-per-second.

I’m going to say that again, in bold, because I think it’s important. The maximum framerate is 30 frames-per-second.

Often, I’ll give a bit of leeway to PC ports. With games designed for older systems, which are ported to the PC years after their initial launch, I can forgive that they’re not running at 60 FPS. With quirky, low-budget Japanese games – sure. I can live with it.

But for a triple-A fast-paced action/driving game, I can’t say I have much sympathy. That might be unfair of me considering big multi-platform launches involve juggling an awful lot of balls, but big multi-platform launches also come with pretty high expectations.

mafia-3-father-james

The cutscenes are gorgeous, and I do love the way Mafia 3 is framed as a documentary.

Now, this is apparently due to change. A patch to uncap the framerate (or at least raise it to 60) is in the works, as are “additional post-launch options” to tinker with the game’s graphical settings even further. Credit for that, and I suspect that the decision to delay 60 FPS was very last-minute. Unfortunately, I’m not doing a technical review from the future. I’m doing one now, and right now, that 30 FPS cap hurts.

It’s playable, certainly, but not in a particularly good way. In a fast-paced game in which I’m doing a lot of driving and a lot of shooting, halving the framerate honestly hurts.

This might be slightly more forgivable if Mafia 3 looked spectacular, but it falters there, too. There’s a frankly ludicrous amount of bloom, textures of incredibly disparate quality, and a general muddy, grey look to the entire game. Some of it’s nice, but for the most part it’s incredibly underwhelming. At a glance it looks alright, but up close it doesn’t really hold up. Let’s have a few screenshots, shall we? And for what it’s worth, the top two are on the highest graphical settings. Be sure to click for bigger versions.

mafia-3-bayou

I’m pretty sure I could’ve claimed this was a shot from a previous-generation game and you’d have believed me.

mafia-3-walls

I like the art and the general atmosphere, but oof, those wall textures.

mafia-3-street

I mean… I’m not the only one who thinks this looks a bit rough, am I? Again: maximum detail.

mafia-3-burner

That said, some of it does look rather nice. In general, though, not so much.

Oh, and I’ve also hit a few bugs and other issues in the first hour or two of play. Other than my inability to throw grenades (which may, I’ll concede, be down to me not understanding how it’s meant to work) there’ve been graphical and behavioural issues.

Graphics first. There’s a rear-view mirror when driving, which is an excellent touch. Unfortunately, the rear-view mirror appears to be running at significantly lower visual quality than the rest of the game. Have a look at this:

mafia-3-mirror

Compare the rear-view mirror to the actual view of the car in the main screen. No, I’m not sure why one of the headlights seems to be invisible, either.

mafia-3-mirror-2

Meanwhile, the advanced version of the rear-view mirror can actually see through walls.

Now that I’ve noticed this, I cannot unsee it. The rear-view mirror is dead to me.

As for behavioural issues, on my second proper driving bit in the game, I pulled up to an intersection right as a truck plowed into a car. The truck then began spinning like a top on its bumper, defying pretty much every physical law there is, and occasionally flipped around like a beached fish, and as far as I can tell nothing was ramming it. Meanwhile, an unconcerned pedestrian tried to walk through it.

To be fair, once again, this might be a one-off and I just got very unlucky… but when I see stuff like that within 30 minutes of starting the game, I get more than a little worried about the quality of the product as a whole.

mafia-3-magic-vehicle

That’s not how trucks work. Not unless you’ve got some serious hydraulics in there, anyway.

Which is a shame, because buried somewhere within this incredibly depressing PC port, I suspect there’s a decent game. The soundtrack is excellent (anything that has me listen to All Along the Watchtower; Ring of Fire; Hold On, I’m Comin’; and One is the Loneliest Number within about an hour of starting it up deserves some sort of credit). The plot, detailing Lincoln Clay’s descent from slightly amoral Vietnam veteran to (presumably) vicious gang lord, appeals. The framing device, with the game stylised as a modern-day documentary charting Lincoln Clay’s life, is wonderful. I’ve been enjoying the shooting and the driving. If it opens up a bit more before long – which isn’t really a guarantee, as Mafia games tend to be a lot more linear than expected – I’ll probably be hooked.

“Probably” being the key word, because right now, I’m really not sure I want to play Mafia 3. If the game is indeed as good as I hope then it deserves a hell of a lot better than this, and I almost don’t want to ruin it for myself by playing what feels like a crippled, buggy, not-quite-finished version of the game. Which, unfortunately, describes the feel of this release to a tee. I don’t know how it holds up on console, but on PC I get the sense that it was made just about good enough and then pushed out, likely because time and budget didn’t allow for the final level of polish.

I’m hopeful for patches that’ll fix all of this stuff sooner rather than later, but until then, Mafia 3 is an offer you should probably refuse.

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Comments

  • Tina

    RIP Mafia 3 on PC.

    • Paweł Mikulski

      On PC Mafia 3 is running in 30FPS, on Consoles has drops to 15.

  • Jim Peterson

    I’m really enjoying it and the only bug I encountered after a few hours was one crash to the desktop. Yes, the 30fps cap sucks (though it is allowing me to play in 4K for once) but after years of playing the GTA series and similar on console and loving them I’m not going to start pretending it’s unplayable or ruining the experience. Graphics are a mixed bag but mostly I find them pretty good and very atmospheric. It’s just some textures here and there that don’t seem up to scratch. And it might be just from spending a week with Forza Horizon 3 but the cars don’t look great, and have some odd physics. But other than that, fantastic shooting mechanics and the way enemies take hits looks great. The story and characters are top notch.

  • hooker

    I’m very curious

  • VincentVega

    PC Master race.. lol

    • john

      Not sure what your point is here? PC is still vastly superior as a platform even when we get garbage ass ports.

  • Jimmy Dyke

    Wow a Review of gta 3 oh wait this is mafia 3 15 years later man did they even try with this title i guess 2k has lost their touch

    • Everybody is talking about technical aspects but the gameplay I’ve seen was just… Bad. One of the skills was just pure wallhack (Imagine the company meeting: Wallhack, that’s great idea John, I raise your pay!). And whole gameplay could be described as “glitching like in 1999”. Whole video felt like the game was programmed by some bums. No offense.

  • Everybody is talking about technical aspects but the gameplay I’ve seen
    was just…Awful. One of the skills was just pure wallhack (Imagine the
    company meeting: Wallhack, that’s great idea John, I raise your pay!).
    And whole gameplay could be described as “glitching like in 1999”. Whole
    video felt like the game was programmed by some bums. No offense.

  • Hugo Mungus

    This game is nothing but video clips with very little game play! It was a waste of money! I hate to say this, But this game sucks!

    • Hugo Mungus

      OK the video clips have stopped and I now have actual gameplay. I hope it stays this way! I have been waiting 20 years for a game based in the 1960’s with 60’s music and cars. I hope it does not continue to disappoint.

      • Hugo Mungus

        Nope it’s back to cutscene after cutscene! Something tells me the game devs got very lazy and added 90% cutscenes and 10% gameplay!

        • Hugo Mungus

          Ok it’s a decent game, But not as good as Mafia 2. It’s not even as good as the first. The only thing that makes this game good is the music. The cars do not resemble actual cars from the 60’s. They look totally off. Whoever designed this game did it half ass. This is what happens when the entertainment industry gets political! They lose money and have to deal with only low budget game devs!

  • bliglum .

    Game looks like shit compared to the original “gameplay” reveal in late 2015… Getting so sick of all of this falsely advertised downgraded bullshit that these devs do.

  • Marshall Hanson

    please add just a few more controller presets for disabled people such as I.

  • Jonathan Snyder

    lol pc master race

  • RunningFL

    Actually I think this game is Directx 9.0c, with probably couples of feature Directx 11 enable

  • Railbydefault

    AAA games are proving to be worse in quality, and more pedestrian each year. Wallhacks, perk systems, no fov adjustment and a general lack of giving a shit to put out a quality product. I’d say its devs and publishers not caring about PC quality, but really its just that console players lack the ability and/or motivation to critically think anything, so they’ll buy whatever they are told to and slurp and fanboii it up blindly. They can get away with it, and rip uninformed consumers off, so they keep doing it more and more. Gaming is dying a slow greed filled death…. I bought this game 1/2 off months ago due to a pricing errror, and I have no one to blame buy myself for being unhappy with the quality. But it is damn annoying nonetheless.

    • Hussain Ali

      We consumers can only counter this rising tide one way: with our Wallets. Stop pre ordering in lure of the bonuses!

      You are right in that the gaming industry is dying a slow death of its own curated cancer. If things are allowed to continue this way, we may have another crash on our hand and this time, there might not be a Nintendo to save it.

      Afterall, fool me once… Right?

  • Hugo Mungus

    This game is just repetitive! The only thing good about the game is the soundtrack and the character clay surprised me he is a damn good character to play. However the missions are all the same. The graphics are worse than mafia 2. The game is exactly like failure godfather part 2. It just gets on your nerves after awhile. The mission objections are unclear and non-descriptive. Your basically running around like a chicken with your head cutoff. And this game should never have been in the mafia series. Bringing Vito from mafia 2 in the game does not make this a mafia game. This game should have been labeled something else. Like The Vet of Louisiana. That would have been the right title.

  • Hussain Ali

    Was on Reddit yesterday. Apparently, some digging in the game archives has revealed that the game is using max res textures of 512×512. Hangar 13 studios, 2004 called and said Hi!

    Never thought a 2016 game would be in dire need of a remastered edition but here we are. So glad I didn’t buy into the hype!

  • Filipe Charrua

    Just give me a proper mafia character. That black homie rambo-type shooting white people has got my little girl scared of the game!!

    • Shawn

      Your little girl” shouldn’t be watching you play this game to begin with.

      And Lincoln Clay is just fine as a mafia character.

  • John Feher

    Yep, we are waiting for a patch, that can make a game out of this port..
    Or we could return this turd out with BF, just released to day..