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Mafia 3 review



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Our Score:



  • Punchy shooting
  • Great setting and characters
  • Amazing soundtrack


  • Plagued with technical issues
  • Dull and repetitive
  • Terrible AI
  • Annoying tooltips

Key Features

  • Release Date: October 7
  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Developer: Hanger 13
  • Manufacturer: 2K Games
  • Review Price: £40.00

Mafia 2 was criticised for its approach to an open-world Empire Bay. Instead of filling a map with icons and distractions, it pulled players along a tight story with little room for wider exploration.

Mafia 3 attempts to change this with an open-world full of activity markers. The game ditches its predecessor's Brylcreem-loving Sicilians and the story takes place two decades later in New Bordeaux – a fictional analogue of New Orleans.

New Bordeaux is gorgeous, the period’s abhorrent racial tension is respectfully replicated, and Mafia 3’s revenge story is told via some of the most convincingly-acted out cutscenes I’ve seen. It’s just a shame that you’re forced to repeat the same tedious activities to see them. For the first four hours, during its linear prologue, Mafia 3 is superb but, as soon as it embraces its open-world design, it yet again all falls apart.

Mafia 3 Preview:

You learn about the game’s protagonist, Lincoln Clay, via documentary-style clips, told decades later by people affected, or through testimonies during a trial. Like Mafia 2’s protagonist, Vito Scaletta, Lincoln begins the game returning home after war, though his tour was in Vietnam.

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Seeing things from Lincoln’s perspective, as a black man in New Orleans during such a turbulent time, is one of the game’s biggest strengths. It’s distressing to hear racially-charged language in a videogame, but you should be taken aback, you should be shocked and you should feel uncomfortable – this was a very real part of our recent history and to pretend it wasn’t like this would be disrespectful to those who lived it. In New Bordeaux, some places don’t allow black people entry at all, while others force them to enter through the establishment’s rear entrance.

It’s a Mafia game where you don’t play as a mafioso. Mafia 3 instead wants you to tear the organisation to pieces and build your own empire in the ashes. I won’t spoil Lincoln’s motivations for revenge, but damn is he good at it. Lincoln was at home in the bloodsoaked and napalm-scorched paddy fields of ‘Nam, and he feels just as comfortable dishing out street justice in New Bordeaux.

Mafia 3’s gunplay feels punchy and brutal, with headshots accompanied by a satisfying pop and a crimson spray, soaking the walls and floor around your victim. Each shot causes enemies to clutch a limb or reel from the force – upon death they tumble over boxes or slump over satisfyingly, thanks to a weighty physics model.

Moving in and out of cover feels fluid, so you’re often pro-active on the battlefield, trying to close the range instead of sitting behind cover and popping heads from a distance. The guns all feel great, too, from rat-rat machine guns to devastating hand-cannons. The enemy AI lets combat down, however, thanks to simplistic behaviour. Shotgunners just walk towards you to try and score a close-range shot, while other enemies duck behind cover, leaving the top of their heads exposed, taking potshots. The occasional molotov forcing you to move doesn’t sufficiently spice things up.

Often I would find myself using stealth to try bypass shootouts and shift up the pace myself. The stealth is simple: one button causes Lincoln to crouch, and then it’s just a case of getting near someone and tapping melee, causing him to drive a knife through their eye, throw them to the floor and stamp his boot on their face, of one of many other vicious takedowns.

Bizarrely, there is also an option for non-lethal stealth animations, but it’s tucked away in the pause menu. You only know about it because a tutorial tooltip informs you once you get your hands on the knife.

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Those tooltips are a constant pain, too. 20 hours in, the game is still telling you how to dismantle criminal rackets, even though it’s all you’ve been doing for the last 15 hours. You’re just killing dudes, but Mafia 3 seems intent on making it appear like there’s some depth hidden beneath the gore. There isn’t. Then there are tooltips that you do need, like when you’re told how to shoot and ram while driving. I wasn’t informed of this until around the 15-hour mark, even after I’d been involved in a few of the rare car chases.

Driving around New Bordeaux, thankfully, feels great. The cars are all angry, heavy things that swing around corners, fishtailing in wide arcs. They all drive like American muscles, and they all feel like beasts that need taming. Skidding around a corner in the heat haze of New Bordeaux as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix or The Rolling Stones blast out of the speakers feels incredible, but you’re only ever driving to and from repetitive missions. Unfortunately, an amazing soundtrack, solid gunplay, good acting and fun driving unfortunately aren’t enough to mask over Mafia 3’s largest issue.

After the prologue, you’re free to explore New Bordeaux as you see fit, and that’s when Mafia 3 turns into a game about hoovering up map icons. Things kick off properly when you’re tasked with recruiting three underbosses: one from the Irish, one from the Haitians and one from the Italians. You do this by taking down rackets to draw out a rival mobster who’s running them. Each enemy mobster has a monetary value assigned to them, so you go around their businesses destroying merchandise, stealing money – which is usually dotted around the place, even found on the back of toilets systems – and killing dudes.

Once you’ve done enough damage, you can then go for the boss, who will most likely be in one of the places you just fought your way through, though now all the enemies will have respawned and it’ll be all tidied up. So you go and do the mission again, but with a guy who can survive about five headshots to fight at the end. You have to do this whole process twice to recruit each underboss, and, then, when they’re recruited, a cutscene tells you that you have to do it all again about ten more times. Almost the entire game is compulsory filler missions.

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Mafia 3

Coupled with Mafia 3’s many technical issues, the repetition soon begins to grate, and it only serves to highlight more issues. When all you’re doing is sneaking and fighting through nondescript businesses, you can’t help but put the game’s core under more scrutiny, so the floating NPCs, oncoming traffic popping into existence, enemies who don’t react and bodies clipping through scenery stand out even more. At one point I had to load a previous checkpoint because I escaped the police by swimming through a canal, but there was no way for Lincoln to climb out.

It feels like the game would have benefitted from another year in development. Nothing is as strong as it should be, technical issues are a common and annoying occurrence, and its uninspired mission design drags the whole package down. There are things I like about Mafia 3, but as a complete package it’s massively flawed and a huge step backwards after Mafia 2.


Mafia 3 is the biggest disappointment of the year. It’s a game with masses of potential, but unfortunately that potential is wasted on by-the-numbers open-world game design.

The first few hours tease the game that could have been if it hadn’t succumbed to the open-world bloat. This is a solid eight-hour game stretched far too thin.

Mafia 3 has an interesting setting and a great cast of characters, but its lack of focus undermines everything it’s trying to do, and that’s a damn shame.

Overall Score


Nicholas Beasley

September 24, 2016, 3:06 am

Bring the Violence! 😃😃😃


October 4, 2016, 11:17 pm

no early reviews i wonder why hehe

Shaun Jones

October 8, 2016, 5:26 am

Well I'll admit, I think the story is good so far, I like how its been
pieced together, like a part documentary part story, like watching an
interesting documentary on the history channel...but you know... good
lol. gameplay is a little off at times, mechanics feel a bit wooden, but
the driving handling has really improved since mafia II which i
absolutely loved except for the cars breaking down and realistic but
slowing features implemented, either way I know I will be playing this
from start to finish, but I will be waiting till its patched, because as
it stands the PC version is 30fps only and 720p console port upscaled, I
know I will regret it if i don't hold off on it till thats sorted.
Actually recorded the first 45minutes of the game for anyone wanting to
get a feel for the game before hand.


Paul Chach Mcarthy

October 10, 2016, 12:48 pm

False positive review. Other sites are dishing the truth on this generic average sandbox-em up. The story seems to be the main draw for this game but is it truly that unique to see an angry black man protagonist taking brutal revenge against white racists? Nope. That trope was worn out decades back with the advent of blaxploitation films. So if you remove the standard angry black man trope story that appears to have been written by BLM, then there isn't much left to recommend this game, aside from the soundtrack, which you can listen to for free on YT. So it is not worth the full price unless you are an sjw who thinks hearing the "N" word repeated infinitely is "edgy and original".

Jordan Richardson

October 10, 2016, 6:01 pm

This story is not about a black man taking revenge against white racists. But a man taking revenge against the italian mafia who betrayed and murdered his family and friends in the black mob after a joint heist. The racial tension comes from the time period and how it brilliantly incorporates the racial tension from that period. But the story, in in of itself is just brilliant due to the amazing characters and acting.


October 10, 2016, 6:19 pm

Would like to know how "the biggest disappointment of the year" equates to "False positive review". And the review says (albeit with better phrasing) it's a "generic average sandbox-em up". What a baffling comment.

Frank Lovejoy

October 10, 2016, 6:39 pm

What a load of toss. It amazes me that coastal hipsters who can't even remember the 90s think they know all about racism in America.

In 1968, which is when this game is set, black people were not 'forced to enter via the back door' of establishments. Schools had already been desegregated for years, even in Louisiana (the fight over that happened in 1960). There certainly was (and is) racism in the area, largely because in the South black and white people live and work together (unlike in the North where social justice hipsters live in segregated gated communities as far from anyone unlike them as possible, while lecturing us all about 'abhorrent racism').


October 11, 2016, 1:47 am

AS flawed as this game is, no way does it deserve such a low score. I already have over 30 hours in it, and I'm still enjoying it and have not beat it yet. The missions are repetitive though and design feels very Ubisoft-ish after a while into the game. It reminds me of Shadow of Mordor in it's repetitiveness (which got way higher scores than the reviewer gave this game and which I was finished after under 20 hours).

The story is very good though and the music when driving around is awesome. There are open world games way more annoying and repetiitive than this that seem to get way better scores (far cry for example). I think the reviewer must be a GTA fanboy. The lowest any non-bias person would give this game is maybe a 6.5 or 7 out of 10 because of it's flaws, not a damn 5. All credibility lost.


October 11, 2016, 1:51 am

Flase positive? He gave it a damn 5 out of 10. Which is RIDICULOUS!!! A 5 out of 10 game is usually one not even worth touching, I already have over 30 hours in this game and had a lot of fun so far. (even though there are flaws)

David Barajas

October 11, 2016, 4:11 am

Glad I passed on this game. Didn't like the direction they went with. Although, I might mess with it once it hits the bargain bin. Maybe.


October 11, 2016, 5:07 am

And thats why they didn't release review copy's, they knew it was heavily flawed & just carp


October 11, 2016, 5:29 am

You gave NMS 7 and m3 a 5!? I agree M3 was dissapointing but, I would take it 20 times out of 10 over NMS. Unless you edit NMS to 2/10 you're as "trusted" as Trump and Hilary combined.


October 11, 2016, 12:00 pm

alright, repetitive crap. exactly what i expected. this game seems to be a polished turd. thanks, but i am done with these gta-clones. i am even done with gta itself. maybe it's time to invest in some proper market research, gaming industry.

Rodrigo P Felix

October 11, 2016, 1:46 pm

just another generic.
don't like open world games.


October 11, 2016, 4:00 pm

Either couldn't have been better. Though Mafia 2 was developed by Dan Vavra's group - the developers of Mafia 1, it still weren't as good as its predecessor, therefore the new one isn't Mafia at all


October 12, 2016, 2:35 am

Weird thing is though, when it's a Ubisoft open world game, it's even more repetitive than this, plus lacks the cool story and setting, yet somehow always manages to get good review scores. Are Ubisoft games exempt from having to have good gameplay to get a good score or something? If this exact game was made by Ubisoft everyone would be giving it a 8 or a 9 out of 10.


October 12, 2016, 9:06 pm

When are game developers going to (re)embrace the notion that they should optimize a game for each respective platform? Every time I get hyped for a game that turns out like this, I become more and more jaded. This is why I never pre-order a game and in cases like this, I'd rather wait for the price to drop. For as much as I'd like to give them my money, I won't pay full price for a product that isn't optimized for the platform on which I play. Whatever happened to the times when developers said:

"We'll release it for this platform on this date and that platform on the other."?

I'll gladly accept a developer deciding to delay releasing a game if it requires more time to be optimized for this or that. Now it just seems like they're embracing the Micro$oft mentality by letting customers pay to be Beta-testers. If that's the case, fine... I'll pay you when the price drops... Maybe. Maybe meaning "If I choose to buy your product at all".


October 12, 2016, 9:10 pm

Having said all the above, what I've seen of the game is engaging. So I won't say it's not worth playing.

Rodrigo P Felix

October 13, 2016, 11:48 am

Not for me.
I quit AC Syndicate just to be boooooring
Repetitive missions, just like this one.


October 13, 2016, 8:31 pm

you must be white

Frank Lovejoy

October 14, 2016, 10:22 pm

You mistyped 'right'.

Simon Coope

October 16, 2016, 1:57 pm

You can't give credit to a video game for music when it's just playing other people's songs, hell even I could do the music for videogames if all I have to do is cut n paste somebodys songs or you could Just put headphones on and save a load of time and effort.

Cherie Durant

October 18, 2016, 4:16 pm

As a hardcore Mafia Fan....(the Godfather games and Mafia 1&2.....This one is fun....BUT!.....As Burke would say....."is so much shite packed into an nice neat package"

inglorious delorious

October 19, 2016, 12:10 am

very disappointing. i was excited to have a another mafia game just like its predecessors only improving on every aspect to make it better, but all they did was create a bland and repetitive open world game. mafia 2 felt a bit linear even though it was an open world game but at least the story was solid. even though the review says the story is pretty good its not really the classical Italian mafia story line that it should be. i hope the game gets enough sales to make a next one and hopefully they learn from their mistakes.

Goga Montana

October 28, 2016, 2:10 am

Gorgeous cutscenes, beautifully designed city and boring objectives + very stupid AI. And, above all, shitty performance on PC because they've made it for consoles. Played, just to see ending and then immediately deleted. Not worth your money and time.

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