Mafia III released to an over-arcing sense of mediocrity from critics and fans alike. Long term fans of the series were alienated by the new setting and obvious bids to dethrone GTA V, whereas newcomers looking for an alternative to Rockstar’s masterpiece found it lacking in detail and repetitive. After a muddle release and several patches following it in the next few months however, Mafia III proved itself to be it’s own beast. Imperfect, but filled with love and care, stellar motion capture and writing, and plenty of freedom to execute missions in your own way.
The city of New Bordeaux may not be as instantly iconic as Los Santos, but is filled with diverse quarters and eerie swamps to explore. If you happen to find it on sale, I would highly recommend it. The combat is tight and satisfying, with a wide variety of options, but Mafia III‘s selling point is it’s setting. The racial tensions of the time are uncomfortably but carefully brought to life here in the swan song of the sixties, with details such as NPC’s growing hostile when your African-American character Lincoln Clay wanders into a sign that says “Whites only”, and how the police will take their time responding in a predominately black neighbourhood. It’s best feature, obviously, is it’s soundtrack. The moment you hit the title screen, you’ll be hearing this and you might think that’ll get old at some point, but trust me, it doesn’t.
The story follows the rise of protagonist Lincoln Clay, out for revenge against the mob who have taken control of New Bordeaux, and he starts his bloody rampage territory by territory, taking out enforcers and rackets, and gradually growing his empire. By the end of the story, though a satisfying conclusion, all in all, this rinse and repeat style of gameplay does start to drag a little, but in the beginning, after the bloody prologue and set to your own devices, it’s a vengeful treat.
My First Hit.
The evening was a warm purple that shaded the streets of New Bordeaux, fresh from a burst of rain that fell from heaven to hell earlier. Lincoln Clay was in his canary-yellow vehicle, eyes fixated on the road ahead. He couldn’t remember where the car came from or whose it was previously. There was alot he couldn’t remember recently, except the dying gasp from the man who was like a father to him, as he died meters away, as his bar and life’s work burned behind him. Then Lincoln was shot in the head.
His friend. His family. They both died in one way or another that day, and now Lincoln only had one thing left, one empire to topple, but to make a house of cards fall, you have to start at the bottom, and Lincoln chose the lowest of the low to remove first.
The Dixie mafia controlled the streets where Lincoln grew up, their pale redneck claws sunk into his home like a snarling animal. When he found out they were rounding up black women to sell like cattle to the Caucasian elite of New Bordeaux from the back of a strip club, he gripped his pistol so tightly he thought he might brake it. So he drove to them, the men who rounded up the women like wannabe-cowboys in his yellow car, for a quick word. That word being bullet, of course.
The motel was hidden from the streets like a repressed memory, it’s stained walls and trashed car park a blemish to those who lived nearby and were forced to witness it’s travesty. It was crawling with the rednecks, all concealing weapons somewhere, Lincoln had no doubt of that. They stood around outside in the parking lot, next to their pick-ups. Lincoln’s head was buzzing, he couldn’t hear their inane conversations and hokey drawls. He got out of the car. He was here for their boss, the big man. Dirty, they called him. Another man might have made a joke about ‘cleaning’ Dirty up, but Clay remained silent. He kept the cold iron tucked behind his belt, and felt it’s reassuring weight.
He moved towards the motel steps, past the five or so hillbillies who stood around idley, but from his peripherals, he felt their stares slowly move to follow him. No-one moved though, they stared in disbelief, as if not quite able to comprehend that a black man was freely-and quickly- strolling into their lot. Clay climbed the stairs, slowly gaining speed. The back of his neck burned red, and he heard one of them shout as he reached the apex of the stairwell, then another, but he didn’t hear what they were slurring. He walked along the walkway outside the rooms hastily. Each closed door he passed appear to speak to him with muffled sounds and moans from it’s occupants, but he strolled to the end.
All of the men in the parking lot were shouting now, and some fo the doors he passed began to open, and curious, but hostile, eyes fixated upon him. Lincoln didn’t look back. Instead he raised his leg, and booted the door with as much force as he could muster. The door splinted and swung on it’s hinges. A portly man with a beard and a cowboy hat swore, and a black woman in skimpy clothing began to scream. Lincoln watched the man reach for his rifle, but he wasn’t ready. The bullet struck him in the middle of his forehead, covering the woman he was with in viscera. She screamed and tried to run. Lincoln examined the dead-man’s corpse, and picked up his rifle, with a dirty metal scope attached to the top. The shouting intensified, and he heard footsteps running and hillbillies cursing.
He sprang to the wall beside the door, and peeked his head out, only to retract it after a spray of bullets tore the wall apart, inches from his eyes. Moving to action, he ducked and dashed towards the wooden panels on the outside walkway, between the dead-man’s room and his yellow car. The men were yelling and shooting, the wood in front of him melted into shrapnel, but he quickly popped out to blast two of the men away, sending the others to go find cover. From the corner of his eye, he saw the owner of the hostile eyes from the sleazy motel rooms bust out of the door, adorned in denim dungarees and a bush of wild hair, gripping a shotgun so tight he might snap it. Lincoln spun round and shot at the man in the chest, just as he pulled the trigger, and the panels behind Lincoln exploded. The man fell, a rough spray of blood painted the door, and from inside a woman screamed.
The bullets hailed against the panels, and Lincoln turned, grappling onto the splintered wood behind him, and using it to vault himself over, not thinking, just desperate to survive. Through some fortune or divine interference, he landed on one of their pick-ups, and quickly let off another shot into a man’s stomach. The case flew out of the weapon, with a telltale ping, signifying the rifle was dry. He threw it onto the ground and grabbed his pistol, blindly firing into the windows of a truck one of his assailants hid behind. He turned and leapt towards his own car.
He threw himself into the seat, as he heard the bullets bounce of the yellow metal, and destroy the windows behind him. He stuck his foot onto the pedal, aiming for freedom and an easy getaway, but from out of the shadows, a man jumped out, shotgun aimed squarely at Lincoln’s face. The windscreen shattered in a million pieces, as pellets zoomed passed his face, but he pressed harder, and mowed right into the man, sending him flying into the main road.
Pedestrians and onlookers screamed, and fled in every direction, as the man’s corpse bounced and barrelled down the asphalt. Lincoln tried to turn, but the car spun out, and the canary car hit a streetlight with tremendous force. He peered out of the shattered glass ahead, and saw a man running towards a payphone, and scream at the operator. Lincoln tried desperately to reverse, but the car was stuck, on something or someone. Eventually, the car buckled, and he slowly managed to get clear of the streetlamp, when the bullets returned, hurtling into the vehicle, denting and breaking it.
A bullet sunk into Lincoln’s arm, and he cried out, his heart hammered in his chest and the world began to lose it’s colour. He kicked the door open, and pulled out his pistol, and shot a man once, twice, three times, until he fell and died in the street. The last man tried to hide behind a car by the sidewalk, and Lincoln sunk bullets into it, as the man hunkered down. Lincoln walked towards the car, slowly, deliberately, firing round after round, before reaching it, and stepping to face the pale, afraid little man, who held his hand up. Lincoln stared him in the eyes, and it looked like the little man was going to speak, but he was too slow. His brains splattered over the vehicle.
Clay walked back to his broken and hurt car, his thundering heart started to die down a little, and he could hear again, but what he heard was no good. Sirens. He picked up the pace and got into his car, as the police came barrelling down towards him, three different patrol cars. He started the engine as the cops came to a stop, taking a moment to take in the blood bath around them. Lincoln used this to his advantage, and spun around, and hit the metal.
He went racing off, as the cars followed him in furious pursuit. He took a hard turn, and almost hit a car, almost spun out, and allowing the cops to inch towards him. He had to steady himself. Focus. Find a place to hide, and get back to his allies. He knew these streets like the back of his hand. He might not have been home for long, but muscle memory is a powerful thing. The closest car behind him began to scrap against his tailgate, and the sirens were blinding through the mirrors. He just had to be patient. Wait for it. Wait for it..
He took another hard turn, narrowly missing the oncoming truck. The cop car was not so lucky, and collided with it head-on, and being sent flying through the air. The cars behind it collided and crashed into it, causing a chaotic mess on the street. Lincoln turned back, a mask of adrenaline and triumph, but it was too late, the car spun out, and rolled, off of the road, past the street, and down a grassy hill, towards the tepid waters of the bayou. By more sheer luck, the car stopped itself just before entering the drink, and came to a clumsy stop. Clay was uninjured, but out of breath, but he knew he couldn’t stop. The canary car had served him well, but this is where they parted ways. He sprinted, his lungs burning, and serendipitously found an empty boat on the bayou.
He jumped onto it, heard the sirens barrelling closer, and found the keys were still there, left by some fool. He switched it on, and sent the boat gliding atop of the waters that glistened gold. His eyes kept blurring from time to time, but he knew what he was looking for-the underwater passages under the city. The world went dark, and his engines crawled to a slow. He stopped the vehicle, and got out, finding the nearest ladder. He heard a snap below him, and saw one oft he ‘gators emerge, thrashing against some animal it had caught in the swampy waters.
He emerged in the twilight, to find the city had calmed somewhat. The sirens were distant, and he kept into the shadows to hide the fact he was bleeding. He used his earpiece to get one of his allies to get him a ride so he could patch himself up. Along the journey home, he saw the dusk settle and night took over. He respected the hell out of Father James, who had been a mentor to him, but never his god. After today, however, he felt a little differently. There was still a lot of work to be done.
This is a personal story I had while playing one of the first missions of Mafia III that really stuck with me. It’s a really good game, I would recommend it to people who want a more grounded version of GTA V for sure. Do you have any stories about this game that spoke to you? Let’s talk about that.