Mafia III (Under)Appreciation Thread


Having recently finished Mafia III, I’m interested in hearing other people’s impressions of its gameplay and, more importantly, its handling of racism.

The game opens with such incredible style and promise, but then devotes sooooooo much time to repetitive missions, an unnecessary open world that insists on omitting fast travel, and somewhat cartoony depictions of racism. And yet, I still find myself pretty enamored with the experience.

Lincoln doesn’t necessarily grow or come to any major realizations, but small moments throughout add up: offering support to Nicki when she opens up about her sexuality and the weight of her father’s disdain, completing the “My Name’s Lincoln Clay…” mission and the poignancy of Santangelo insisting to continue to demean and devalue Lincoln with racial slurs even with his last dying breaths, and mundane depictions of the daily injustices of oppression and institutional racism.

I wish the game had more interactions like these and the ones in the screenshots below. In particular, I wish it went further into exploring respectability politics and how minorities and marginalized groups wrestle with how the actions of one person member often group pose grave consequences for everyone.

CW: racial slurs/n-word.


I really loved Mafia III when I played it and did a write up of it last year:

Basically, I found the story it told and the city of New Boudreaux to be incredibly compelling, and they drove me forward through the admittedly repetitive mission structure. I’m curious as to why you found the racism to be cartoon-like? It seemed very accurate to my understanding of Louisiana in that era, and I really enjoyed tying the game’s escalating difficulty to Lincoln standing out more in the whiter and wealthier neighborhoods in the game’s latter half. But of course, I wasn’t alive in the 60s so I suppose it’s all subject to interpretation.


I wouldn’t say all of the racism presented was cartoonish. The “No Coloreds Allowed” signs, the chatter from shop owners, and the way police response time and intensity vary based on the district where a crime is committed are all impactful touches.

The cartoonishness mainly comes into play when tasked with killing Marcano’s capos and lieutenants, and also while playing the DLC. That’s where the game goes out of its ways to paint the people you’re killing as mustache-twirling villains. The plotline with the Ensanglante/Blessed cult stands out for this.

The antagonists didn’t need to be descendants of a Confederate General and self-proclaimed prophet who encouraged ritual sacrifice of Blacks to a horned deity. Their racism and manipulation of others should be enough to portray them as villains.

A tangential complaint is that although Lincoln encounters racism, he never experiences prolonged periods powerlessness. At the end of the day, he always has his guns and his combat training to rely on for swift vengeance.


I’m only about halfway through the game (at least I think), so It’s hard for me to say anything definitive at this point. I first tried the game out when they put the opening chapter up as a demo like last year or something. I really wasn’t enthusiastic about how heavy handed the racism felt in that first prologue section with the heist. It felt like every other word of dialogue was the n-word. I sort of appreciated how they wanted to be upfront and honest about depicting an incredibly racist setting without glossing over anything, but it felt like they were laying it on too thick.

Anyway, sometime after that I heard one of the writers from the game talk about it on a podcast and it really got me interested in trying the game again after hearing him speak about what all they wanted to achieve with Mafia 3. (Just in case anyone is interested it’s episode 17 of Tone Control:

After it went up on PS Plus I decided it was as good a time as any to play all the way through. So far I can say that the writing definitely gets better after the intro, and even some of the side missions have wonderfully thoughtful bits of characterization scattered throughout. I can see a lot of the repetitive gameplay issues that you mentioned, but all in all it hasn’t put me off too much (not yet that is). Although I can’t help but wonder if a more linear experience that turned away from an open world setting would have played better. There’s still a lot I’m thinking about in terms of the way race is portrayed in the game, so hopefully once I’m further along I’ll have a clearer opinion of it as a whole.


I’m so glad this went on PS Plus so more people will get to play it. One of my faves. I have a deep love of New Orleans and while not perfect, this fictionalized version really captures the spirit of many of the areas of the city.

This has been the first “crime” open world game I’ve been able to get into. In GTA-likes I can never develop any empathy or connection with the protagonist(s), which I find is something I absolutely need if I’m going to be playing a long dense game. Lincoln is a deeply flawed individual, but his flaws serve to make him more well rounded. He has sides. He’s someone I could have a beer with.

No game is perfect but I still poke my head into New Bordeaux every now & then. I keep meaning to finish some missions but I usually just end up driving around with the R&B station on and miss New Orleans until I’m too sad to play any more :slight_smile:


I keep feeling this every time I decide to try this out a little. The gameplay feels pretty good and the story is interesting enough, but I’m so not interested in doing all these little tasks and driving from one place to another to find out I need to drive to another place. It’s just padding.


@mango That was one of my gripes too. Fortunately, if you’re playing on PC there’s a fast travel mod that you can get working without too much hassle.

I started using it 3/4 of the way through when I got a side quest that had me drive 3-5 minutes to the objective. When I completed the objective, the quest giver appeared in a cut scene at my location, yet once the scene finished I had to drive back to where they originally gave me the quest to turn it in to them. I honestly wouldn’t have had the patience to finish Mafia III without mods.


I honestly loved the world of Mafia 3, to the point where I 100% completed it, something I didn’t even do with the witcher.


Was there anything in particular that made you fall in love with the game or just its overall atmosphere and world building?


For one I think the driving is great. Love a heavy car.


Ah! I have been looking for a place to talk about this game. I started playing it this month on PS+ and I am obsessed. Here’s what I wrote on the Idle Thumbs forums without much response:

I have played enough Mafia III to decide I love it; it is socially and politically ambitious in ways no other sandbox games have seemed, to me. The characters are deep and the missions/activities are consistent with the plot and the game world. I understand what Lincoln is doing at any moment and why it is necessary. All of the upgrade systems, as favors from your network, make thematic sense. I don’t think I have played a sandbox game this consistently designed. I love that it’s not cynical; it is pessimistic about power, but the civilians are living regular lives, and most of them want jobs and safety.

Mechanically, I love the driving - I set the model to Simulation and suddenly driving with analog triggers becomes necessary and allows me to drive with precision I wasn’t getting in Arcade mode. Slamming the throttle at a standstill penalizes you by losing traction, and slamming your brake locks your tires so you can’t turn; it’s the one open world game whose driving I enjoy more than GTA.

The crowbar lock cracking is dull - it’s about the only aspect of this game that turns me off.

'Mafia III' Is Free on PS+ and It's Not Only Good, It's Important

About how far along are you?

I liked customizing the cars, but never messed with the arcade/simulation driving options. I’ll have to try it out.


I might be halfway through, or a little less. I have delegated one racket to an underling by choice (finished the required delegations). I probably have quite a bit of game left.


I downloaded this as part of PS+ and am about five hours in, past the first act and getting into the more routine gameplay that I expect makes up most of the game. Atmosphere and the unvarnished way the world is presented is much appreciated- walking into a restaurant and getting the cops called on me for “loitering” is very interesting indeed.

I just wonder how long I’ll be invested in the gameplay mechanics and territory building. And the tutorial pop ups! I get there’s a lot of systems here but the pop-ups are getting annoying.


I wrote about this above, but not elaborately enough; the gameplay repetition in Mafia III doesn’t bother me, because the gameplay matches the narrative and themes of the game so well. Organized crime as a business is methodical, and building an empire takes time and a lot of elbow grease. As I play Lincoln working his way around New Bordeaux, busting up rackets, it is easy for me to buy-in that I just need to hassle everyone enough to get the bosses out of hiding, and that it’s not a very fancy scheme (not too many elaborate missions). I have also been doing the side missions to increase kickbacks, and there is a bit more variation in those, which also makes sense to me - the side missions are building the business while the main quest is annoying another one. There are plenty of games that are just as repetitive but bore me, because the narrative and mechanics don’t hit on the same themes or because the end goal isn’t something I care about.

I don’t think Mafia III is unique in its repetitiveness compared to other open world games I have played, so I guess that’s why I don’t understand how this criticism sticks out compared to games like AC and Far Cry.

Also, I set the difficulty to hard, aim assist to high, and driving to simulation, and those settings have made the missions non-trivial; I die a decent amount, so maybe I’m entertained partially because I’m not steamrolling the game.


Yes! Im still early in the game, but goddamn do I love the cars. I don’t totally understand the little meter backfiring thingy but I like that it makes mee feel kinda like, disconnected? From the car. Like I’m operating an actual machine. I don’t play a ton of games w driving in them but this feels just a little more involved than most open world games


Yeah a lot of driving mechanics are crafted to give the player the feel that they ARE the car, mafia 3 follows the proud lineage of driver san Fran in deciding that it’s better to think of you as a person in a giant lump of steel.


omg i will check Driver SF out as well


Not to derail too much, but it’s one of my favorite games ever.


Not to go all gamefaqs on you, but why are some of my side missions grayed out? Like the Are We Cool mission for Emmanuel - The mission is there but I can’t select it. Googling around I’m seeing something about Cassandra’s racket level and various bugs. Any real info you can pass my way would be greatly appreciated!