As we get ever closer to celebrating our one-year anniversary, we’re continuing to branch out and start covering more topics we think might be of interest to our readers. First it was Mat-Based Technique, our pro wrestling column. Then came Metal Book Klvb, our book review column. Today we bring you Full Metal Gamer, the first installment of our video game column. Up first is our review of…
Mafia III (PlayStation 4)
Let me preface this by saying that even though I’ve been gaming for pretty much as long as there have been home systems—I’m old enough to have had an Atari 2600 when they first came out, and actually played the hell out of that E.T. game—but this is my first attempt at writing a video game review. Here’s my question: at what point in the gaming process should one write the review? When one finishes it? After X number of hours of game play? I’m probably about 15 hours into Mafia III, and I feel like I have a pretty good feel for what the game has to offer. I’m also enjoying it enough that I’m in no hurry to finish it. So that being said, here’s my take on the game:
– I really like the storytelling approach in the game. The events in Mafia III take place in the late 1960’s, right after main character Lincoln Clay returns from a stint in Vietnam, but those events are placed within the context of a present-day documentary where people who new Clay and retired FBI agents are recounting the story of Clay’s violent takeover of the New Bordeaux (an obvious stand-in for NOLA) crime syndicate. Particularly early in the game, there are some really cool cut scenes in the middle of the action that effectively build the narrative without feeling like someone is simply explaining the backstory.
– Speaking of the characters, there aren’t that many recurring ones, but those who do keep showing up are pretty well fleshed out. Lincoln Clay in particular is given a compelling history that adds more complexities to character than one might expect form this sort of game. He’s definitely not the typical anti-hero.
– The use of music is fantastic. There are a couple of instances that reminded me more that a little bit of the way that Scorsese used music in Casino, including a very nice moment featuring Bubby Fuller’s version of “I Fought the Law” (which the Clash later covered on London Calling).
– The gameplay is difficult enough to be a challenge, but not so difficult that you’ll get frustrated if you’re a gamer who’s primarily interested in the story (like me).
– The side missions are different enough from the main game that I actually want to complete them all.
– In terms of the actual game play, this is a pretty boilerplate action-adventure game. In fact, in a lot of ways it reminds me of Grand Theft Auto V, particularly in terms of the layout of New Bordeaux and some of the missions. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does feel awfully familiar at times.
– As with most action-adventure games, there’s also some redundancy in terms of the missions. I think that’s more a limitation of this style of game, though, than the fault of the creators.
The story had me hooked within the first five minutes, and the gameplay has me engaged to the point where I’m in no hurry to finish the main story – I’d rather spend as much time as possible exploring New Bordeaux.