Grand accomplishments always spawn mimics. Whether it’s World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto, the titans which define a genre will always be used as a measuring stick by others and lead to developers trying to beat them at their own game. While you can find the odd success, most inevitably fail, and those which are truly successful usually emerge triumphant by going their own way. The odd thing about the Mafia series is that it has ultimately gone in reverse. After the second game established a vastly different take on the old open world crime tropes, Mafia 3 has ditched nearly everything in favour of aping Grand Theft Auto. Suffice to say, it’s a big step backwards.
The big strike against this game more than anything else is its repetitive nature. Over and over again, you will rob rackets, perform hits on targets and destroy enemy shipments. These are extremely by the numbers, and within a few missions they become quite tedious. After sixteen hours, you’re left longing for something vastly more exciting. Each is only made worse thanks to poor enemy intelligence, which often runs out into the open or fails to properly react to your presence; not to mention some alarmingly poor optimisation even after multiple extensive patches and, barring the cutscenes, very poorly textures graphics.
Many of the best points found in the last game have been watered down to nothing, until you feel less like an ascending member of a grand organisation than you do a hired thug. This is in stark contrast to the game’s best points, all of which it continually squanders over and over again. The story is fantastic, but save for the odd exciting mission it rarely escapes the glorious cutscenes into the world itself. The core gameplay mechanics (even the stealth options) are serviceable at worst, and the setting itself is a refreshing change from the usual open world fare. Yet, with its archaic mission layout, grindy nature and monotonous pacing, the moment you think things are starting to pick up, some old problem brings the whole thing to a screeching halt.
Overall, Mafia 3 is stylish and slick, but somehow manages to still be extremely boring. There are good elements to be found here, and the cutscenes are always a joy to behold, but between the muddy graphics, poor AI and dull missions, you’ll have to stomach a lot of bad to get to them. Stick with the previous game, folks. Aging as it is, you’ll have far more fun than anything found here.
MAFIA 3 / DEVELOPER: HANGER 13 / PUBLISHER: 2K GAMES / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW