Is 'Mafia 3' Worth It? First Impression Says Yes

NOTE: This article is a contribution and do not necessarily represent the views of Player One.
Rat-a-tat-tat Forbes

Is Mafia 3 worth it? Lots of gamers asking themselves this question today as 2K’s GTA -Lite franchise launched it’s third, and most ambitious, installment to date. The premise is revenge and the setting is 1960s New Orleans. You are Lincoln Clay , an African-American warhero orphan whose adopted family of creole criminals is betrayed by the mob. Having stayed up later than I should playing the first few hours of the game, if you asked me is Mafia 3 worth it my initial impression is yes. Yes it is.

Why is my Mafia 3 first impression so good? Several reasons, but the one most readily in my mind is the music. Holy bejesus do I love the music in this game. I have long been a fan of “old man” music (as certain iDigi staffers refer to it) and the Mafia 3 soundtrack does an astonishing job of using both notable hits and deeper cuts. While a soundtrack alone might not be reason enough for you to think Mafia 3 is worth it, bear with me. Because I slowly realized that this amazing soundtrack provided the psychic glue holding together a setting that is both raw and authentic.

Much has been said about Mafia 3 ’s use of racism , and a disclaimer at the start of the game preps you for hearing some heavy shit. But, along with the music, the coarse language cultivates a richness that elevates the story, the characters and ultimately the gameplay. Hangar 13 deserves credit for playing with fire and coming away without a singe. At least so far, these are my Mafia 3 impressions not the full-scale review. But the early moments of the game see a racist-for-today-normal-for-60s-Louisiana bank guard call Clay the n-word a half dozen times only to then have Clay dispatch him in the first takedown of the game by tossing him face first into a furnace and smashing his skull with the heavy iron door. It’s satisfying.

Of course, Mafia 3 is worth it on more than just killer music and a fleshed-out setting. What makes Mafia 3 worth it is what makes any game worth it - it’s fun. My first extended shootout was superb. I’m playing on the hardest difficulty, with aim assist set to low, and found the challenge to be juuuust right. As someone who plays a LOT of games like this it can sometimes be hard for me to enjoy myself when the combat isn’t dynamic (see my oft-maligned review of Bioshock: Infinite ). But when the game gives you the breadcrumbs for creating amazing scenes you pick them up. Case in point: alligators. My first real mission had my sneak through a swamp to a depot run by Haitian gangsters. As I slipped through the dark water I saw a few gators nearby and felt a tinge of anxiety. Would they attack and prompt an Uncharted -esque QTE? No they didn’t. But they were happy to dispose of the bodies of my victims as I slipped them into the water while I snuck around the premises.

The stealth is nothing special and if you’ve played a video game in the last 20 years you’re likely familiar with the “crouch and cover” sightline mechanics. But it’s not broken or bad (so far) and when you fail at stealth and have to start shooting the action is rewarding. This Haitian layout was well designed, with plenty of shacks and shanties for me to dive into for cover. What impressed me most was the balance between ammo and weapons. Unlike GTA , players in Mafia 3 can’t carry 4358097430567 weapons. You get a big gun (shotty, assault rifle, etc) and a pistol. And ammo is scarce enough that you can’t just do a spray and pray approach. What really impressed me was how effective and consistent melee attacks were, so on the few times I ran out of bullets I could lie in wait for a patrolling foe and knock him out and take a handful of bullets and keep fighting.

The strongest impression left on me by Mafia 3 , and the thing that makes me say that (so far) Mafia 3 is worth it, is how much I found myself connecting with characters. The supporting cast around Lincoln is superbly acted, and when the epilogue ended with the betrayal that I absolutely knew was coming I was still shocked. Upset, even. I really liked a lot of the characters that got killed in front of me, and even liked the ones doing the killing. It set up a revenge story that I cannot wait to get into.

There are some gripes about graphics, and to be fair there are some framerate and draw distance issues that can be a little cringe-y, but I’ve never been the kind of gamer who couldn’t get past some rough edges if the rest of the game is there. I played on Xbox One and had a fine time, but PC players may want to wait a few days to see what kind of patches are in the works.

So is Mafia 3 worth it? Considering it's the first thing I’m going to do this morning and the last thing I’m going to do tonight, my impression is, yeah, it’s worth it. Especially if you’ve been patiently waiting for that GTA V DLC that seems like it's never coming. Mafia 3 at its best feels like a Scorcese movie, and at its worst a good video game.

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