Mafia III

Five Things We Learned Going Hands-On With Mafia III
by Matt Bertz on Apr 19, 2016 at 02:15 AM
Platform PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher 2K Games
Developer Hangar 13, 2K Czech
Rating Mature

With Mafia III barreling toward its October 7 release date (watch today's new trailer here), 2K Games recently stopped by the Game Informer offices with a new build of the game to check out. The hands-on demo covered a lot of the same ground as our November 2015 cover story, but running through the newly named city of New Bordeaux also brought to light some new elements of the game.

Here are five takeaways from our hands-on session.

Mafia’s Signature Qualities Remain Intact
With a new developer, setting, and narrative, plenty is changing drastically in Mafia III, but that doesn’t mean the game feels out of place when standing among the earlier entries. The series has always been known for having well-crafted set-piece missions featuring highly detailed environments, and that appears to be carrying over.

After you do enough damage to a Sal Marcano associate’s criminal syndicates in a district, you unlock the set-piece mission that lets you take them out. In our demo, the target was money man Tony DeRazio, who is holed up in the Royal Hotel. These missions give players multiple options for completing the objective; for this mission you could go guns blazing through the front door or steal a delivery vehicle to gain access to the underground parking garage elevator and infiltrate that way. Once you fight or stealth through the multiple levels of the hotel, you confront DeRazio and then must escape a building flooded with mobsters and police. 

The cars also retain the physics-based feel of the series. Driving a variety of vehicles during our demo, you could definitely feel the difference in weight, turning radius, and acceleration. 

The Story Is Framed As A Documentary
During our cover story visit to 2K headquarters in Novato, Hangar 13 intimated it had a plan in place for allowing the player to see how Lincoln Clay’s progress affects Sal Marcano and watch him react. We suspected the studio was planning to treat the story as a historical documentary from some years later, and the demo proved that to be true.

After completing the various missions necessary to cripple DeRazio’s rackets enough to draw him out, the game transitions to a cutscene where CIA operative and Clay associate is John Donovan testifying to a government panel. When a panelist asks Donovan how Clay was able to get to DeRazio, the boastful agent admits he had bugs and wiretaps placed throughout the city. The cutscene then transitions to Tony DeRazio paying a visit to an underling whose kickbacks have been light lately. DeRazio shoots him in the head and hands over the responsibilities to a new guy named Dominick, telling him to collect all the outstanding money owed and deliver it to the Royal Hotel.

These scenes shed more light on how Lincoln’s actions are changing the big picture, and also lend weight to the idea that everything probably doesn’t come up roses for the vigilante. 

1960s Music Is Here In Full Force
You can’t set a game specifically in 1968 without tapping into the time period’s rich music history. Our hands-on demo of Mafia III demonstrated that Hangar 13 is on the right path to a fantastic and varied soundtrack, with songs from The Animals, The Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and The Rolling Stones, among others. 

New Orleans has its own rich musical tapestry, which appears to be represented to some degree as well. We heard one track from “King of Zydeco” Clifton Chenier while cruising through the NOLA facsimile New Bordeaux.

The City Is More Alive Than Previous Mafia Games
Previous Mafia games expressed an impressive attention to detail when it came to recreating towns of the ‘30s and ‘50s, but the well-crafted cities lacked vibrancy thanks to a severe shortage of pedestrians moving around town. Mafia III makes an earnest attempt to make New Bordeaux feel more alive. 

During my time wandering around the downtown district, I noticed the civilian population has been drastically increased, and dynamic events like civil protests were not uncommon. I also noticed the police exhibiting different attitudes toward Lincoln. One cop chose to walk the other way when my towering antihero blocked his path, but another dropped a racial slur and tried to verbally put Lincoln in his place. When I clocked him, the other pedestrians on the sidewalk didn’t seem to mind. Seems about right for a city that has always had a dubious relationship with law enforcement. 

Preserving Lincoln’s Alliance Won’t Be Easy
In his quest to take down Marcano, Lincoln enlists the help of three lieutenants with very different backgrounds who all have gripes with the mob boss. Cassandra is the Haitian gang leader, Burke is the hot-headed leader of the Irish gang, and Mafia II lead Vito Scaletta needs no introduction. As Lincoln takes over the various rackets throughout the city, he hands them off to his lieutenants, but keeping them happy may prove challenging.

After Lincoln takes down DeRazio, the demo shifts to a sit-down between him, Cassandra, Burke, and Vito. Cassandra has already been given multiple districts, so she’s content no matter what choice the player makes, but Burke and Vito feel like dogs begging for scraps at the table. Since both are already running a hideout in this area, the player is essentially screwing over one of them by handing over district control to the other. 

Each choice comes with rewards like new weapons or favors, but the player must also decide how much diplomacy they should use with Lincoln. When I give the district to Vito (what can I say, I’m sentimental), Burke says, “there’s only so much s---ing on an Irishman can take before he wipes it from his eyes and comes at you with both barrels.” 

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