There aren’t many times in video games when you can recommend someone purchase an open-world game because of its story. When it comes to Mafia 3, this is one of those times.

2K and Hangar 13’s third iteration in the popular franchise has been available for nearly a week now, and I’ve spent that time experiencing what this game has to offer. Mafia 3 shines in its narrative, characters, setting and rewarding cover-based system.

The tale of Mafia 3 begins with Lincoln Clay coming back from the Vietnam War. He returns to his friends and family, but wants to find meaning in life in New Bordeaux. Lincoln runs into his old pal Giorgi Marcano and they hit it off as if a day had never passed in between seeing each other last.

Ultimately, the plots leads us to the point of Lincoln being offered the chance to run part of New Bordeaux. This area is ran by Sammy Robinson and there’s the implication from Sal Marcano that he wants Lincoln to take out Sammy. As these things go, Lincoln did not accept his offer and the rest as they say is history.

The first several hours of Mafia are a wonderful prologue that masterfully sets up the rest of the events in Mafia 3. Various Mafia 3 characters are shown in a reality-TV style interview throughout different points of the game.

Father James from Mafia 3 (Courtesy of 2K).
Father James from Mafia 3 (Courtesy of 2K).

They serve as vessels for delivering background information, explaining the meaning of past or upcoming events and teasing an impending instance players are about to encounter. The style of these interviews are brilliant and the performances from Mafia 3‘s actors are amazing.

From the top-of-the-line visuals showcased in Mafia 3‘s cutscenes, to the excellent script and voice actor performances, everything in Mafia 3 feels real and genuine. Revenge stories can sometimes be a bit cliche or tired, but Mafia 3‘s is not. Lincoln Clay’s path of revenge is one of the most memorable narratives you’ll find in an open-world game this year.

What makes Mafia 3‘s narrative special are its characters, their personalities and unique isms. Take John Donavan (voiced by Lane Compton), who is one of my favorite characters, for example. He’s a CIA man who helps Lincoln on his bloody path of revenge.

In each of Donavan’s scenes, he adds a precise level of humor to the story. He also presents a very matter of fact nature about himself that pairs well with Lincoln Clay’s personality. Mafia 3 is a game that has some serious themes. This being the case, I think it was smart for Hangar 13 to add some light-heartedness. This kept the experience from becoming too heavy.

Lincoln running for cover when things get explosive (Courtesy of 2K).
Lincoln running for cover when things get explosive (Courtesy of 2K).

Another character I found to be likable, at least in the beginning, was Giorgi Marcano. Mercer Boffey, who is the one responsible for bringing Giorgi alive, delivered one of the best performances in Mafia 3. In the beginning, the connection between he and Lincoln was quite relatable.

That said, what he does to Lincoln makes you turn on him in an instant. Even after that point though, Boffey’s character remained a favorite due to the unique accent he added to Giorgi’s characters. There was more to his dialect than your run of the mill southern accent. We all enjoy a villain we love to hate and Giorgi is one of them.

Lastly, Father James is another character who turned out to be yet another well-rounded personality to the Mafia 3 bunch. He is more of a fatherly figure to Lincoln than anyone else. Father James also helped bring greater significance to the events as they unfolded.

For those of you who haven’t had the chance to experience the story of Mafia 3 and are planning to, I’ll leave out the juicy details of how this game progresses and ends. All I can say is this open-world tale is one of my favorites. The genre hasn’t seen a story this powerful in years.

Lincoln takes aim at incoming enemies (Courtesy of 2K).
Lincoln takes aim at incoming enemies (Courtesy of 2K).

Switching gears, Mafia 3 did a fine job of providing rewarding gameplay in its cover-based system. For me, I went through just about every mission in the game using stealth. It was far more rewarding for me to sneak and knife my way through enemies than it was engaging in shooting.

Of course shooting in an inevitable action in this game, but I was still able to use stealth the vast majority of the time. Mafia 3 gives the player tools to be successful using stealth. A useful tool you will have at your disposal are the Screaming Zemi Dolls.

You can find these if you select the Screaming Zemis under your weapon wheel. These items will help you get passed guards that surround you. There are plenty of scenarios where you simply can’t whistle to draw over an enemy and then stab them. You have to be a bit more tactful and the Screaming Zemis help you do that.

Simply toss one of these like you would a grenade and watch it attract enemies. It is a brilliant distraction tool that gives you enough time to sneak by without being seen.

Lincoln evaluating targets before making a move (Courtesy of 2K).
Lincoln evaluating targets before making a move (Courtesy of 2K).

New Bordeaux itself does a brilliant job of capturing the tensions that ran high during the late 1960’s. Racism was a serious problem during this time and Hangar 13 did a fine job of portraying the issue, while not being gratuitous or over-the-top with it.

For anyone who is ready for an open-world game with a great story, Mafia 3 is for you. 2K and Hangar 13 have created one of the most powerful open-world experiences of the year, and its climax will leave you believing that. Mafia 3 is available now for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Check out some Mafia 3 gameplay, otherwise stay tuned for more on video games here at We Write Things. 2K provided We Write Things with a PS4 code of Mafia III for the purposes of this review. 

About Steve Ruygrok

Gaming, Spirits, and Craft Beer enthusiast. If you say you don't like beer, then you just haven't had the right type yet. Great spirits keep away the bad ones. Video games are kind of amazing, just do it...or something like that.