Mafia 3: Gamescom 2016 Impressions
Entering the presentation room to see Mafia 3 is like going back in time. The place is outfitted with brown leather sofas and furnishings that match the game’s 1968 setting. Each press room in the Koelnmesse’s labyrinthine structure has its share of soft furnishings, but Mafia 3’s looks like a place I might want to spend a bit of time to recover from the noisy bustle of Gamescom proper, still audible behind these walls.
Sadly, I’m running a couple of minutes late as I try to fit every game ever made into two days flat, so instead of the fancy sofas I’m left to squat on the floor, rushing to pull a notebook from my bag as a presenter from developer Hanger 13 takes the mic, kicking off proceedings.
Mafia 3 is, thankfully considering the confusing numerical system used by crime cousins Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row, actually the third in Take 2’s open world crime series. Each has tackled the grimy world of organised crime in different ways, and this one is no different.
We’re in the swinging sixties, 1968 to be exact. The Vietnam war is raging on as organised crime starts to put the rest of the country in a stranglehold.
Nowhere is this more obvious than the fictional city of New Bordeaux, cut to pieces by squabbling crime families who feud over the city’s 10 districts. Orphan Lincoln Clay returns from combat in Vietnam and finds a new family after he falls in with the 'black mob' who operate out of the district of Delray Hollow.
According to the presenter on stage, each district has its own criminal ecology. They didn’t show this in action, so I can’t talk any more about what that might mean in a mechanical sense, but for now there’s a lot of interesting differences to New Bordeaux, both in the juxtaposition between Skyscrapers and Alligator infested swamps, and the criminals who operate there.
After his new family are double crossed and wiped out by the Mafia, Lincoln Clay, Vietnam veteran and general grumpy-face, decides to wage his own war on the streets of New Bordeaux against the mafia family, indirectly destabilising the entire city as you commit crimes and take out rivals. The developers want us to treat the city as a separate character, and it's clear that some of the sensibilities of New Orleans are going to inform the story instead of another tale of stone-faced New York mobsters or the excesses of Los Angeles.
It’s a classic tale, seen in crime movies and games for decades. It’s not, in fact, a million miles from the central plot of Grand Theft Auto 3. The difference Mafia 3 brings to the table is the time period. Not many open world games have explored the sixties and crime has usually stuck to composites of the exciting cities; New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. New Bordeaux, New Orleans' answer to New York’s Liberty City, looks like something out of the norm, and 2K are clearly hoping it’ll play like something out of the norm, too.