Mafia 3 Review: A Game That Tests Your Patience

Last updated on December 14th, 2016

“You are who you are and there’s no point in arguing with yourself about it”

Mafia 3 is a retro-crime thriller that portrays an intensive plotline supported by some rich characters. However, it’s the gameplay that fails to be in sync and suffers the most.

In the history of gaming, we have had seen some legendary characters. And without any tiny bit of hesitation, we simply claim that the protagonist of Mafia 3 is one among those. The above quotation of Lincoln Clay, mentioned initially, got me pondering about the fact that who am I? It cracked my brain.

So, you can probably imagine the intensity level portrayed by the plotline as well as the characters. Mafia 3 is a dark-themed game with rich lore depicting the upheaval of the Afro-American community in the 60s.

The game is set in the city of New Bordeaux, a fictionalized version of New Orleans. Centered on the character, Lincoln Clay, the story takes you eventually into a path of revenge, organized crime, and sacrifices involved with it. The boy who grew up in an orphanage was later adopted by Sammy Robinson, the head of the Black Mob. When an adult, he was sent to the army where he soon became a hero in his unit with John Donovan, during the Vietnam War.

According to Father James, his secondary mentor, after the war, Lincoln returned to bid farewell to his foster dad, Sammy, and brother, Ellis. He was headed to California to start afresh with a regular job. But it was then that he found his godfather in trouble and promised to help him.

mafia 3 review

And that’s where the things start shaping up. Lincoln eventually ends up performing a heist for the Marcano crime-family, the virtual ruler of the city. After successfully pulling off the heist, Lincoln, and his family, gets betrayed by Sal Marcano (head, primary antagonist) and his men. Surviving a near-death experience, an enraged and resentful Clay vows to take down the Marcanos.

For doing so, he takes the help of Donovan (retired army officer and present CIA exec) and recruits a few under-bosses to plan out things perfectly. This is where the actual story unfolds into a series of irritating quests and activities. Yup, we are being honest. There may be a few good moments in between the initial events and the epilogue. But the entire middle part of the campaign is utterly boring.

mafia iii review

To take down Marcano you have to capture the different districts in the city, one by one and hit the lieutenants. Now, capturing a district is a long process. First, you have to begin by consulting a couple of guys about the situation in that territory. Doing so pops up the location of various racket operations and enforcers in charge. Be amazed to know that not all these locations will be revealed soon enough. You have to interrogate a couple of goons to reveal the whereabouts of more enforcers and ongoing activities.

The entire middle part of the campaign is utterly boring.

So, this cycle goes on till you create enough damage to shake down and execute the main racket boss. But oh wait! Each district has exactly two rackets that are operational. So, you have to repeat the long procedure that we just discussed to take down another racket boss. Hence, after getting rid of those two, you unlock a story mission to execute the main crime-lord handing the activities in that district. The story-missions are interesting but does this remind you of something?

If you have played Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, then you will get a pretty good idea of what we are talking about. We had a debate going on about which title provided us with an unpleasant experience? Capturing gang strongholds in Syndicate or Mafia 3? Finally, we came up with an answer which is Mafia 3. The former felt quite repetitive but didn’t force you to keep on capturing all the territories deliberately.

mafia 3 screnshot

To be honest, I was going to leave Mafia 3 as is, and play FIFA 17 instead. But the fact that I spent quite a fortune for it, forced me to see the end of it.

You can either choose stealth or full-on-combat to kill your targets. But that may seem inappropriate sometimes and you have to rely on the former instead. You can choose lethal or non-lethal takedowns. Now, believe me, that the enemy AI is so crappy that you will die laughing. Whistle an enemy or make them suspicious, they will rush to find you in a same one-dimensional animation, as if they were holding shit in their pants and prefer to visit the toilet instead.

To be honest, there’s no proper variety in completing these type of quests. It doesn’t feel challenging in any aspect. The stealth elements make you feel like a single-bit fastball thrown to you. So, you can’t expect any slider or curve-balls to make things interesting. In other words, the mission design is poor.

The stealth elements make you feel like a single-bit fastball being thrown to you.

mafia 3 stealth

Had the developers taken steps to add some more parkour and stealth elements, those mini quests would have felt interesting. The enemy AI could have been revamped too. If you are looking to distract yourselves from these repetitive missions by going for side-quests, then you are welcome to experience the same shit over and over again. They aren’t any different and lead you to the same type of situations.

There’s nothing unique in completing the racket or side-quests putting the story missions aside. And talking about distractions, the devs could have implemented some fun activities to make things interesting when you are bored completing the main quests. The thing is, there aren’t any!

There’s nothing unique in completing the racket or side-quests putting the story missions aside.

New Orleans is a major tourist hub in the US that exhibits a thrilling urban life that amps up to music and dance in pubs, bars, restaurants, etc. during the night. The world of New Bordeaux which is inspired from this city doesn’t get you to experience any of that. Dear developers, no one would feel hurt if you could have added some fun games or activities in this open world. Some card games or snooker, for instance, could have been fun. Well, that’s not all.

mafia 3 screenshot

As the location of various cafes, shops, restaurants, bars, etc. get revealed what one would expect? To pay them a visit and see what they have to offer, right? But the thing is, they are not dynamic. You can’t have any food or drinks to restore health. You can’t even buy clothes. They are just there for you to steal some money and get hands on some Playboy magazines. Yup, that’s all. It feels so sad that you can’t even customize the main character’s apparel.

This was all there in Mafia 2. You could get some food or a drink from your safehouse’s fridge or instead purchase them to restore your health. You could even change apparel from your wardrobe to make Scaletta look classic. In fact, the world forced you into situations where you had to change your clothes and repaint your vehicle to trick the cops chasing you. It was fun, to be frank.

mafia iii screenshots

The thing is, none of this is present in its successor. The Police AI, which we forgot to mention, sucks badly. When you commit a crime, your activity is only limited to a certain blue-radius. If you get caught within that area then the map will turn red. If you happen to escape the blue-radius then the police won’t recognize even if you are seen outside the marked area. How lame does that sound? It’s pathetic!

No one would feel hurt if some fun games or activities could have been added to the open world. 

There was this mission we remember, where we had to indirectly reach one of Marcano’s lieutenant by participating in illegal brawls, known as ‘jungle-fights’ happening inside a cage. That part was fun and we wished to earn some extra bucks by taking part in more of these so-called fights. This could have been a nice add-on to have some fun in New Bordeaux. And yes, they really need to learn the hand-to-hand combat implemented in the predecessor. It’s far much better compared to the present.

mafia 3 review
We expected more of this boxing in Mafia 3

It’s okay. We get it that Lincoln Clay is serious about taking down Marcano. But Geralt of Rivia from Witcher 3 was also serious about finding Ciri! Yet he could find some time to play Gwent, hook-up or fight in brawl tournaments to chill out! In fact, Aiden from Watch Dogs was also serious about revenge but he also tended to have some fun by playing poker or chess.

mafia 3 gameplay screenshot

Sure, the developers of Mafia 3 have carved out a beautiful world but it feels lifeless and empty to be honest. But there were some moments in which we enjoyed exploring the open-world. Driving across the Bayou Fantom (the marshlands located in the outskirts of the city) early in the morning felt so refreshing and beautiful that we simply have no words to explain. The sun-rays appearing through the canopy of the forest looked so vividly magnificent, that we feel like going for another drive.

Mafia 3 Graphics
Travelling across the Bayou in Mafia 3

When you turn the simulation driving on, the experience on a vehicle becomes more genuine. The sound of wheels rolling over the pebbles on off-road terrain, the dust particles puffing up in the air from the back and the dynamic control you have to pull off against the wind will remain as indelible images stored in your memory.

Driving across the Bayou early in the morning felt refreshing and beautiful.

mafia 3 vehicles

The vehicles look classic and really take us to the 60s. We really loved the speedster vehicles like the Smith Mooray, available as an associate vehicle in Mafia 3. The soundtracks are also classic. One among the hilarious music tracks we liked was, “I fought the law and the law won”.

The under-bosses you recruit eventually do reflect their distinct personalities. Their character model is perfectly designed and they make badass quotes every now and then. But we expected more of their involvement in the story-line. Yeah maybe they do assist you throughout the game by sending associate supplies but we don’t get to see them much in action.


The part where Vito himself accompanies Lincoln in the chase-down against Grecco felt good. Hope, we could see more of his active involvement in the story. Apart from the underboss missions and sit-downs, you basically don’t get to see much from these characters which is unfortunate.

You don’t get to see some action from the underbosses which is unfortunate.

The PC gamers surely took a major hit. Though subsequent patches were released by 2K and Hangar 13, we couldn’t see any drastic improvement in the performance of the game. Well, lately this has become a trend in most of the titles, where people would often experience frame-rate lockdowns and dissatisfactory performance on their PCs. Moreover, you will be surprised and laugh out loud after observing some crazy glitches.

Guy we killed on the left still appears on the mirror! Hilarious!
Guy we killed on the left still appears on the mirror! Hilarious!

Surely, we had fun exploring the main story supported by an amazing protagonist. We couldn’t find any flaws in the plotline. The involvement of Father James plays a crucial role in the story, who questions the moral and ethics of Lincoln from time to time. One of his statements to Lincoln that we can’t forget is, “If all you ever look for is evil, it’s all you’re ever going to see.” There are many things you can confer from this one simple message. One would be the sad reality of human beings then, now and in the upcoming future. Similarly, we got to learn a hell lot about racism and any topics still being debated over today from this particular game itself.

“If all you ever look for is evil, it’s all that you are ever going  to see. “

Father James Ballard

The cinematic narratives in the form of interviews are unique and erratic. Actually, they play a major role in the events of Mafia 3. Such type of theatrical presentations act as a symbol to indicate the greatness of the marvelous plot design. The script and story designing team deserve the major for this game. However, to witness their great work you need to have a lot of patience and it’s not that easy.

Mafia 3 visuals

I happened to watch this anime “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann” where there was an episode titled, “How long will the Gods test us”. It primarily focused on the frustrated characters undertaking repetitive struggles to achieve their goal. Such was the type of situation, I faced playing Mafia 3. I asked myself, “How long will the developers test us?” It may sound hilarious but it’s the actual truth. The game tests your patience to get to the good part, so that you will feel amply rewarded.

The game tests your patience to get to the good part.

So, in order to get a forkball you have to deal with the repetitive one-dimensional pitches that are mandatory. In other words, the developers are forcing you to eat shit to get Chicken Teriyaki. But to be frank, the Chicken Teriyaki is not enough to compensate for the sacrifice and the amount of money we had to pay for the game.

We got to know that in the upcoming dlcs, car-races and more interesting story based missions will be hooked up. Let’s see if the Hangar team comes up with some more interesting side-dishes to make us an interesting meal.

Final Verdict

If you have patience and want to invest your money for just witnessing a great retro-underworld story then Mafia 3 would be a viable choice for you. However at the same time, you shouldn’t care about the rest.

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