E3 2016: Mafia III Preview

Mafia II is one of my favorite games in its genre. Hell, it’s probably one of my favorite games of all time. My slightly Italian blood has made me incredibly interested in the mob, an organization that I often  pretend I could be apart of. From watching Goodfellas and Casino, to playing through Mafia, I love the culture that surrounds this entity, even if it is one that clearly shouldn’t be glorified. However, I was reeled in yet again with the announcement of Mafia III, the follow up from the game I loved many years ago.

I got to catch up and spend some time with Hangar 13, the development studio behind Mafia III. This is their first title as a development team, and it seems like they have done everything possible to ensure they leave their mark on gaming. Mafia III takes what made Mafia II so good and expands it to unprecedented lengths.

The game takes place in New Bordeaux, a reimagined version of New Orleans, in 1968. You wear the shoes of Lincoln Clay, a former Vietnam veteran who returns home and joins up with the black mob. The black mob is betrayed by the Italian mob, and the Italians launch a full hit against them. But in a Punisher-esque twist, Clay survives the attack and swears revenge on those who betrayed him.

I absolutely love the twist on the story here. Most “mobster” games (and movies) focus solely on the Italian mob and neglect other areas. Ditching New York, and traveling down South to join up with the black mob, Mafia III stands to tell a compelling story that has yet to be heard, and that’s something I’m certainly excited about. While I enjoy a bit of story in my games, I struggle to find any interest in most plots, but Mafia III has already drawn me in completely, and I can’t wait to see how Clay’s adventure pans out when the game is finally released.

Clay is not only tasked with revenge, but also seeking the empire that was robbed of him. Mafia III has you building your own throne of organized crime, infiltrating and claiming territory to add to your list. However, everyone will not experience this growth in the same way. Mafia III gives you choices where you must choose which areas to hit, and which to leave alone, making the experience all your own.

While games like Grand Theft Auto also offer similar open world scenarios, I have never felt like it’s more real than in Mafia III. The entire world feels alive and breathing, immersing you in a bygone era. The south was a tumultuous place during the 60’s, and Mafia III seems to take the open world crime title and tell a much darker tale with it. Sex trafficking, drug manufacturing, slave labor, and even the KKK are all present here and impact the story and the choices you have to make. Each of the ten districts that span the open world have their own unique spin on the criminal underworld of New Bordeaux, with many focusing on certain aspects of organized crime. One area might be infamous for its sex rings, while another might be a drug manufacturing hub.

One of the most interesting mechanics that will be showing up in Mafia III is the ability to call-in favors, even in mid-battle. If you do a stealth hit that is compromised, you can find cover and call in a favor (perhaps a favor with some heavy firepower) to get you out of it. A mechanic like this can really amp up any encounter you may find yourself in and adds a bit of strategy to a genre that really doesn’t see much of it.

Another cool feature I noticed was the mobile arms dealer. While you’re out exploring New Bordeaux, you can call a van that comes and meets you, acting as an on-demand black market. It isn’t a huge change to the game, but sometimes it’s the little things that count.

All in all, Mafia III is shaping up to be one amazing game. The title expands on the solid foundation of the previous game to bring a world of crime and violence to life. The unique spin on the classic story promises plenty of twists and turns, and the power of choice makes your experience with the game something you can own forever. Mafia III releases on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 7, 2016.



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