By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on October 10, 2016
Most of us know that when it comes to the mob, you never, ever, ever, EVER mess with the family. And although we know this, this is exactly what developer Hangar 13 and publisher 2K are going to have us do! Let's go back to 1968, visit the town of New Bordeaux and single-handedly bring about the downfall of the Marcano family...
Meet Lincoln Clay; a bi-racial black orphan and Vietnam war veteran. After the death of his parents, Lincoln was taken in by local African-American mobster: Sammy Robinson, who became a surrogate father for Lincoln until the latter enlisted in the Special Forces and was sent to fight in the Vietnam war. After the war, Lincoln is release from the service he returns to his home in New Bordeaux, a grand reimagining of New Orleans during the end of the sixties. Once there, he plans on picking up his former life, but a ongoing turf war with a rivaling Haitian gang throws a hefty spanner in the works. Although Lincoln manages to 'persuade' the apparent leader of the Haitian gang into leaving his family (and life in general) alone, the turf war has put Sammy in debt with local Italian crime boss, Sal Marcano.
One day, Lincoln is summoned by the aforementioned mister Marcano and agrees to meet with him. Once there, Sal Marcano seems to be in a meeting with an old friend, who some of you might recognize if you've played Mafia II. Eventually, good old Sal mentions to Lincoln that he thinks Sammy's time has come and gone and he offers Lincoln full control of Sammy's affairs. Being the loyal man he is, Lincoln refuses this offer and states that he just can't do that to Sammy. Sal shrugs this refusal off as if it were just a trivial issue and, instead, tells Lincoln that there might be another way to wipe away Sammy's debt: rob the Louisiana Federal Reserve together with Sal's son, Giorgi. Lincoln agrees with these terms and sets out to pull off one of the biggest heists that New Bordeaux has ever seen. Although the heist goes off without a hitch, Lincoln will soon discover that, when the Italian mob makes you an offer, they only make the kind of offer you really can't refuse...
After the heist, the guys are all celebrating back at Sammy's place, when Sal and Giorgi Marcano crash the party and decimate Sammy's gang to the point of non-existence. Lincoln is shot in the head by Giorgi and left for dead while the Marcano gang sets fire to the place. Luckily, a friend of the family, father James gets Lincoln out in the nick of time and nurses him back to health at his church. When Lincoln is finally well again and back at his former strength, he swears bloody vengeance on the Marcano family and all of their henchmen. To this end, he enlists the help of CIA agent John Donovan, his friend and former handler during the Vietnam war. Together, they set out on a quest to bring about the downfall of the Marcano family.
As we make our way through New Bordeaux, one cannot help but notice the level of detail that went into crafting this bustling city. Absolutely everything looks completely stunning and really helps to immerse us into Mafia III's awesome story. The sights, the sounds, the characters; all of these details shape the life in New Bordeaux in perfect detail. We first set out to do some real damage to the Marcano operation by decimating his prostitution racket and drawing out the underbosses of said rackets. Once these bad cats are out of the way, the path to the racket boss is clear and we can finally kill him. When this is done, we can put one of our allies in charge of the racket and tighten Lincoln's grip on the New Bordeaux crime scene, gradually working our way up to Sal Marcano himself.
New Bordeaux is one the most expansive city the Mafia series has ever seen and is made up out of ten huge districts, each with their own details in look and feel. Making your way through it on foot would take you forever, so we resort to our favorite way of acquiring transport: stealing cars. As in previous games in the genre, it's never smart to do this in front of the police. Unlike said previous games, Mafia III comes up with a twist. If you steal a car, some citizens will act as witnesses and alert the police by running towards the nearest phone booth and calling in your crime. To stop this from happening, you chase after the witness in question and threaten them so they'll change their minds about being such an upstanding citizen. This should be done, however, out of view of other potential witnesses, or the chase starts all over again. I found that just driving away at high speed is a far better way to avoid getting caught by the boys in blue. At least, if you're not caught speeding while getting away from the scene of the theft.
In Mafia III, Lincoln can wield an expansive array of weapons, which can be picked up after killing an enemy or even called in by contacting one of your friends. Making a phonecall will bring in a minivan from a friendly neighborhood arms dealer, from which you can buy and upgrade your weapons, and even refill your ammo. Pistols, machine guns and shotguns are the perfect tools to blast your way through the rivaling gang's forces and make their bosses see things from your perspective. You can either kill them on the spot for some quick extra cash, or convince them to join you in your crusade to raise the total value of your own organization. This adds an extra dimension to the fight. Will you just kill everyone you come across, or will you spare some of them to fortify your own, newly established, crime family? The choice is yours to make!
One of the things no review of this game can do without, is mentioning its more than awesome soundtrack! As it happens, I absolutely love the music of the late sixties and that's exactly what Mafia III is filled with. Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Animals, The Box Tops, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash and even Elvis Presley, among many others, grace our ears while driving around town or visiting local nightclubs and bars. If there's a radio playing somewhere in the house, you're bound to hear one of countless classics blasting from its speakers. And although this might sound far-fetched to some of you, I personally think that the music adds an extra dimension to the game... an extra character, if you will. It captures the time period perfectly and enhances the gritty feel of the game even further, as well as its story. And what a story it is: trust, deceit, hate, revenge; all these emotions constantly fight for our attention and guide us through the awesome, action-packed rollercoaster that is Mafia III.
Over the course of the game, you will encounter quite a lot of racist behavior. Now, before you all start shouting and protesting, let me assure you that this level of realism is only seen and heard because it is needed to truthfully portray the segregation that was going on during this time period. It's not just a gratuitous shower of calling people names, it faithfully represents the level of abuse the colored society had to put up with in those days. For, without a firm understanding of what happened, how are we ever to stop it from happening again? All in all, I can only say that I absolutely love Mafia III and think it is a more than worthy successor to the previous installment in the series. I would, therefore, recommend this game to everyone who loves a good story, fantastic gameplay, stunning graphics and a thoroughly awesome soundtrack! Just get into contact with your inner mobster and get ready for an adventure, the likes of which you have never seen before!