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Mafia III is coming, and here are the juicy details

Mafia III was officially revealed at Gamescom and is to be released next year

Long-rumored Mafia III was revealed this week at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, and takes the series from the mean streets of New York to the bayous of New Orleans.

Mafia II, developed by 2K, was released in 2010 to good reviews. The game didn't set the world on fire, but it was a very good game with a fantastic story and characters, though it suffered from fairly bland world. It probably didn't help that 2010 was also the year of Mass Effect 2, Red Dead Redemption, Call of Duty Black Ops, Heavy Rain, God of War III, Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, to name but a few. So it's easy to see why Mafia II got a little lost in the shuffle. Thankfully, 2K saw a bigger future for the series and didn't just let it die.

Mafia III is taking the series in a new direction, and it's a very exciting direction at that. The first thing you might notice is the protagonist: Lincoln Clay is half-white, half-black. Obviously this is nothing out of the ordinary, but when we see mafia/mob related games or even movies, the characters all tend to be Caucasian men with sleeked-back hair and New York/Jersey accents. Furthermore, Clay's race and heritage will play a role, given the overt racist violence that occurred in The Big Easy at that time. So immediately we know Mafia III is a different kind of beast, and it's a welcome change from the tired tropes.

Meet Lincoln Clay

A tragic origin story

Clay is an orphan who has spent his life looking for somewhere to fit in. This led to him joining the army and going to the Vietnam War. Upon returning to New Orleans, Clay finds a new family with the "Black Mob". But it ends abruptly when the Italian Mob kills them all and leaves Clay for dead. This is all told in the first minute of the trailer, so we know Clay has had a hard life - and my guess is it's only going to get harder. Clay retaliates against the Italians and a gang war is ignited.

As Clay, you will be able to grow your empire and expand with Lieutenants. You can work with Cassandra of the Haitians, Burke from the Irish, and the protagonist of Mafia II, Vito Scaletta. The Italian mob has angered each of these lieutenants and their gangs, leading to Clay recruit them with the promise of turf and power. This dynamic of working with other mobs will evolve, depending on who you award and give favor to.

Late 60s bayou

The next thing you'll notice is the setting. As mentioned previously, Mafia III swaps New York for New Orleans. It also jumps forward in time to 1968, although it is in the same universe. New Orleans is a criminally underused setting in video games, Infamous 2 being the most high-profile, and best, example. Once again, this sets Mafia III apart from most other games and gives it a unique look.

Based on a Gamescom demo, Eurogamer had this to say about the setting:

It's the city that's the real star. This open world might not be as breathtaking as The Witcher 3's wind-swept expanses, and it doesn't quite seem the measure of Grand Theft Auto 5's Los Santos, but what it has in excess is atmosphere: as our anti-hero Lincoln Clay walks the outskirts of the French Quarter at night, you can feel the heat dripping up off the streets.

The attention to detail is staggering, from the authentic dog tags hanging in Clay's car to every iron-railed balcony suspended above the streets. The world feels alive, which was a large complaint about New York in Mafia II.

But how does it play?

Like a hybrid of Mafia II and Sleeping Dogs. It's got that same weighty feel of its predecessors, but it adds in more combat takedowns and shooting that is more akin to the latter. The driving mechanics similarly feel just as they did in Mafia II - heavy but befitting of the cars. Driving your Lincoln Mark around Bourbon Street feels like it should - it may be slower than GTA, but this isn't an insane sandbox, it's a real world setting that should be taken in and enjoyed as a leisurely pace. One thing to note is that a rear-view mirror is constantly on display while driving, affixed to the top of the screen. Maybe this can be turned off, we're not sure yet.

The gameplay of Mafia III isn't doing anything new, but so long as 2K and Hangar 13 nail down those core mechanics, we should have a solid third-person, open world game. If the team can address the complaints about the drab and empty world of Mafia II, which it seems like they have, then Mafia III could quickly become a big hitter in 2016.

For more on Mafia III, 2K Games, and Gamescom 2015, stay tuned to GameSkinny.

Published Aug. 7th 2015

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