Mafia 3 Review: Beauty Tied Down To An Anvil

Mafia 3 takes players back in time to the turbulent 1960s. But have the developers learned anything from the previous gameplay decisions of the series? Our review.


Open world games have become a bit of a staple over the past few years, with big titles like The Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto V changing up how we view these massive games. Mafia 3 aspires to be similar, offering players a look at the deep south in the 1960s. It’s a turbulent time in history that has proven to be a great backdrop for Mafia 3’s simplistic plot revenge. Sadly, though, Hangar 13 have done the game a huge disservice, marring its true beauty by tying it down to a dated open world formula that almost feels like we’ve stepped back in time to when developers had no idea what they were doing with such huge and open worlds.

A Scarred World

Being a fan of the Mafia series, I had a lot of hopes for Mafia 3. Many fans, myself included, hoped we would be welcomed by a massive and sprawling world similar to GTA V, or The Witcher 3. We hoped for a world that felt alive and kicking, just brimming over with things for us to do. This is something that the Witcher 3 handled very well in regards to side quests and missions. Everything you did had meaning, and felt progressive. Instead, it feels more like Hangar 13 took the same formula used to make Far Cry, and just ran with it, giving us an open world that is full of wonky AI, garbage collection tasks, and overly repetitive gameplay mechanics. That isn’t to say there aren’t enjoyable parts in the open world segments. There are. They’re just too few and far between that you lose sight of them amidst all the other things popping up one your screen.

Aside from the game’s disappointing open world, the gunplay feels meaty and excellent. Each shot really seems to hit home, driving blood and screams of pain from your targets. Headshots pop off without much issue, and shotgun blasts to the legs or stomach send your enemies falling to the ground, their groans and grunts merely fuel to the fire of Lincoln’s craving for revenge. Of course, you never really have to fire a shot, if we’re honest. For those who enjoy stealthing around maps, and taking out enemies covertly, Lincoln’s whistle and knife are a powerful combination, that simply breed upon the game’s unintelligent AI.

A Bandaid Too Small to Stop the Bleeding

The game’s big saving grace, however, is its story. The simple revenge plot, that we’ve seen overdone so many times throughout history, leads players through one of the most turbulent times in American history. It’s a journey that fits good together, with each punch leading to the next in a smooth and enjoyable fashion. You just can’t help feeling tied to Lincoln, and sympathizing with him despite his violent and destructive actions. His underbosses also all work really well, with each one breathing life into the story in their own ways. Our only real complaint here is that you just don’t see enough of them, and the story feels like it’s been pushed out of center stage so that they spotlight could be placed on the game’s open world.

Mafia 3 is an interesting case study. Hangar 13 had everything they needed to hit the ball out the park, and yet, somehow they managed to strike out multiple times in a row. The setting feels wonderful, the guns feel meaty, and the story is everything that Mafia fans could have hoped for. That’s why it is such a shame that Hangar 13 decided to mar this beautiful project by tying it down to a dated open world formula full of meaningless filler that adds nothing to the story, characters, or even the world. The story is amazing, capturing perfectly the time period and character's motivations. Sadly, the open world and filler content make it almost unbearable, forcing you to choke down a whole lot of bad for just a few small sips of the good.

This review is based on a review code provided by the developer. Mafia 3 is now available on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 for $59.99. It is rated M.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

Review for
mafia 3
  • Outstanding story and setting
  • Driving feels smooth and well done
  • Gunplay can feel meaty and rewarding
  • Large open world is wasted on repetitive quests and missions
  • Forces players to jump through far too many hoops to enjoy the story
  • Gameplay is repetitive and grows stale after a few hours
  • Certain weapons make the gunplay a slog
  • Stealth gameplay feels overpowered and many times you feel forced into using it
  • Lack of fast travel makes driving hard to enjoy at times
From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 10, 2016 10:00 AM

    Josh Hawkins posted a new article, Mafia 3: Review in Progress - Beauty Tied Down To An Anvil

    • reply
      October 10, 2016 2:53 PM

      I was curious as to how much time did you put into this game? I loved the story so far, but it definitely has a lot of filler. Depositing money in the safe is just bs when you have to travel across the map. Some guns feel satisfying while others fall flat. I felt that stealth was necessary in some cases to not get fucked when I wanted to go guns blazing.

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        October 10, 2016 5:15 PM

        I'd say that I'm around 15-20 hours in at this point in time. I agree completely. there is a lot of filler, and some of the guns do fall flat, yep. Stealth is needed in several cases, but it is still fairly broken.

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        October 10, 2016 6:39 PM

        I just call the consiglere(sp?) to deposit money, although early game was a bitch with driving to the safe. I've really liked the gunplay in both mafia 2 and 3 aswell.

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          October 10, 2016 11:12 PM

          Are you on PC? On console it can be frustrating trying to turn quickly. I also have AA on low so it's not as snappy. Might have to change that.

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            October 10, 2016 11:13 PM

            Yeah, PC. I have to keep AA on low, can't stand how blurry it gets on high.

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      October 10, 2016 6:47 PM


      • reply
        October 10, 2016 6:49 PM

        Came out today, yup.

      • reply
        October 19, 2016 5:23 PM

        Its been out since Oct 9th, so its been out for a while.

        I really like the game and think its really cool, I have the PC version.

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      October 10, 2016 11:22 PM

      The only thing that really bugs me is the cops really don't give a fuck about my driving. I can do 90 in a sports car on the wrong side of the street roaring past a squad car and they won't react.

    • reply
      October 10, 2016 11:48 PM

Hello, Meet Lola