Mafia III is an action-adventure video game developed by Hangar 13 and published by 2K Games. It was released in October 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. It is the third main game in the Mafia series, and the sequel to Mafia II. Set within the fictional city of New Bordeaux, based on New Orleans, the single-player story follows Lincoln Clay, a criminal who aims to build a new crime organization while seeking revenge on the Italian mob.
The development of Mafia III began soon after Mafia II's release, but initially had problems. 2K Czech, the developer of the series' first installments, oversaw restructure, with much of the development team assigned to the company's new studio, Hangar 13. After deciding on recreating New Orleans in 1968, the development team drew influence from the series' previous projects, and designed the game around Clay to replicate the core structure of its predecessors. Much of the development work constituted the open world's creation, and several team members conducted field research around Louisiana to capture footage for the design team. The game's soundtrack features several licensed songs composed by various musicians who were active during the time period.
Upon release, the game received mixed reviews, with praise directed at its story, characters, darker themes, and soundtrack. However, some of the gameplay mechanics and the presence of technical issues drew criticism. The game would go onto have great commercial success, and became one of the best-selling video games in 2K history, with 4.5 million copies shipped in its first week of sales. It was later confirmed to have shipped 5 million copies worldwide.
Mafia III is an action-adventure game set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective, in which the player assume control of Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam War veteran on a quest to seek revenge for his adopted family, who are murdered by local mobs. The game is set in 1968 New Bordeaux, a re-imagined version of New Orleans, with the game world being larger than the Mafia and Mafia II maps combined. Mafia III's map is made up of ten districts: Bayou Fantom, Delray Hollow, Barclay Mills, Frisco Fields, Pointe Verdun, Tickfaw Harbor, Southdowns, River Row, Downtown, and the French Ward. Players can complete objectives using a variety of approaches. For example, players can use the weapons provided in the game, like shotguns and revolvers, to eliminate enemies, or call for allies, who arrive in a van and assist players.
Alternatively, they can make use of stealth tactics throughout the entire mission without being noticed by enemies. The core gameplay revolves around gunplay. In addition, players can also perform executing moves and engage in melee-combat. The game features a cover system, allowing players to take cover behind objects to avoid enemy gunfire or detection. Players can interrogate non-playable characters after defeating them in order to gain more information on their objectives, like scaring them while driving a car. Players can attack and overrun locations owned by the Italian mob, and assign one of their lieutenants to operate around the local area. The game allows players to drive cars from the era with realistic driving mechanics and sounds.
Mafia III takes place within the late 1960s, within the fictional American city of New Bordeaux. Situated within America's southern states and coastline, the city is composed of island districts, industrial complexes and ports, high-rise offices and apartments, slums, suburban housing, and historical districts, interconnected by railroads and an extensive road network, with a large swampland separating the city from the coast. The city consists of a mixture of cultures including African-Americans, Irish, Italians and Haitians, and is mostly controlled by one mafia family – the Marcano family – alongside smaller organizations including the Irish Mob, Haitian crime lords, the "Black Mob", and white supremacists.
The city's design, including its architectural styles, cultures and lifestyles, were influenced by the real-life aspects of the southern United States during the time period, including the real-life city of New Orleans. The game's story focuses primarily within this setting, though DLC content expanded the setting with additional locations around New Bordeaux.
In 1968, Lincoln Clay returns to New Bordeaux after serving a military tour of duty during the Vietnam War. Returning to his old neighbourhood where he grew up as an orphan, Lincoln reunites with his friends and family, including his surrogate father Sammy Robinson, a local gangster, his adopted brother Ellis, and priest Father James. Although intending to head on west to California, Lincoln decides to stay behind and help Sammy after discovering he is having problems with the rival Haitian Mob. Despite eliminating the Haitian boss, Lincoln learns that the Haitians' interference have left Sammy in debt to mob boss Sal Marcano. To clear the debt, Lincoln agrees to assist Marcano and his son Giorgi in pulling off a heist at the city's branch of the Federal Reserve, working alongside Giorgi, Ellis, and Irish mobster Danny Burke. Although the plan succeeds despite numerous complications, Marcano and Giorgi betray their fellow criminals, murdering Sammy, Ellis and Danny, and leaving Lincoln for dead.
After James rescues him and nurses him back to health, Lincoln decides to exact revenge against the Marcano family. He calls in help from John Donovan, his CIA handler in Vietnam, to assist in his vendetta. Donovan agrees for unknown reasons, and suggests he recruits three noted crime bosses across New Bordeaux. Lincoln learns that each seeks revenge against Marcano - Haitian crime lord Cassandra, despite resenting Lincoln killing her predecessor, despises Marcano even more for giving Sammy's old territory to a loyal Southern gang; Thomas Burke, Danny's father and leader of the Irish Mob, seeks revenge for his son's murder; and Vito Scaletta, an exiled Italian mafioso from Empire Bay who financed the heist, wants payback for Marcano double-crossing him and leaving him unable to pay his dues to the Commission. Lincoln helps each regain their former territories in the city, and takes them on as his underbosses so they can support him further.
In time, Lincoln eliminates prominent members of the Marcano family, and foils an attempt on his life, while dividing up the city with his underbosses and giving them control over the Marcano family's rackets. Over time, his decisions over the allocation of territory determine the loyalty of each underboss; a boss denied territories too often will eventually turn on him, forcing him to kill them. Eventually, Lincoln weakens Sal enough to force him and Giorgi to take their remaining men to a casino they were constructing. Assaulting their last stronghold, Lincoln kills Marcano's men and Giorgi, before confronting the old boss in his office. Marcano admits defeat knowing that Giorgi's death would be the end of him, and shares a drink with Lincoln. Marcano then dies either by Lincoln killing him, or shooting himself if Lincoln chooses not to.
As Lincoln prepares to leave, he is stopped by the approach of an elderly Leo Galante and his entourage, sent to investigate the troubles in New Bordeaux for the Commission. When questioned, Lincoln assures Leo he sought revenge only against Marcano, and intends not to fight anyone else. Satisfied, Leo advises Lincoln he can still continue to maintain full control of the city's rackets and establish new businesses, but must do so in exchange for giving the Commission 20% of his earnings in return. Returning to Donovan and James with news of Marcano's death, Lincoln decides his own fate. If he chooses to rule over the city, he must decide whether to do so alongside his underbosses or have them killed and rule alone; the latter decision leads to James remorsefully killing him with a car bomb. If he chooses to leave, Lincoln disappears from public life and heads west, leaving James postcards from time to time, while the strongest of his underbosses takes full control of the city from the others.
In a post-credit scene, Donovan is brought before a Senate committee to answer for his role in Lincoln's crimes. He reveals his motive was to investigate Marcano's link as one of the conspirators responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and that he attended the Senate hearing because one of the senators presiding over it was implicated as a conspirator in Marcano's files. Donovan then proceeds to kill the senator, openly declaring his intention to track down everybody else responsible for President Kennedy's death.
The game was first rumored in August 2011. In November 2012, 2K Czech, the developer of the original Mafia and Mafia II, announced that the company was working on a "top secret, AAA game". However, the company was later restructured on January 10, 2014, and the main studio in Prague was shuttered, with resources being allocated to a new headquarters in Novato, California. A new studio called Hangar 13 was established by 2K Games in Novato in the same year. Headed by Haden Blackman, who had previously worked with LucasArts, the studio was said to be working on a new project.
Hangar 13 and 2K Games wanted to stay true to the quality that many users expected over the previous games. The game uses the graphics software Simplygon. The development team were interested in creating a world based on New Orleans, and eventually decided on setting the game in 1968. The team used a collection of old photographs to recreate the world. Various alterations to the world were made to suit the narrative: the bayou and the city have been positioned at close proximity, despite being at a further distance in real Louisiana; the Superdome stadium was being constructed in 1968, but is excluded from the game. The team intended the world to be accessible for high-speed chases. The team also wanted to move away from the stereotypical Italian mafia scene and represent a different side of gang-related crime scenarios. Another aspect of setting a special tone and atmosphere in the game has been the choice of licensed music. Haden Blackman indicated that Mafia III will include a "ton of great music" from the sixties.
The game was officially teased by 2K on July 28, 2015, and was formally revealed at Gamescom 2015 with a cinematic trailer. Mafia III released on October 7, 2016 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Players who pre-ordered the game received a downloadable content pack titled "Family Kick-Back Pack" which introduced several new weapons and vehicles to the game. Players can also purchase the Limited Deluxe Edition and the Limited Collector's Edition. The Limited Deluxe Edition's content include the base game and the season pass, while the Limited Collector's Edition added additional content such as the game's original soundtrack and art book. A mobile game entitled Mafia III Rivals was also released to tie in with the main game, developed by Cat Daddy Games for Android and iOS. Rivals is presented as a role-playing game with turn-based combat mechanics.
Following the game's release, several pieces of story-based downloadable content was released by the developer. The first DLC, titled Faster, Baby, was released on March 28, 2017 and features new story missions set in the Sinclair Parish district, as well as new gadgets. On the same day, 2K Games released a free demo for players to try the game. On May 30, 2017, the second DLC, Stones Unturned, which reunites Lincoln Clay with John Donovan, was released and it introduces several new weapons into the game. The third DLC, titled Sign of the Times, which sees Lincoln fighting against a cult called Ensanglante, was released on July 25, 2017.
Mafia III received "mixed or average" reviews from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Critics praised the story, characters, and darker themes, but criticized the repetitive gameplay and the presence of numerous technical issues.
Alex Donaldson of VG247 gave the game a mixed review, writing, "Mafia III features one of my [favorite] video game stories of the year, some gorgeous presentation, an amazing soundtrack and an interesting world. Sadly it also has by-the-numbers mission design and dubious performance." In his 2/5 star review, Sam White of The Guardian wrote, "To say Mafia III is a disappointment is an understatement. It has all of the surface components to form a great game: the writing and acting are superb, its direction and style are great, but its mechanical underpinnings are archaic and desperately unimaginative."
Marty Sliva for IGN gave the game a score of 7.5 out of 10, summarizing his review with: "Mafia 3's strong characters and confident storytelling kept me engaged, even if the gameplay rarely delivered anything but bog-standard and repetitive open-world action. That's a bummer, because Lincoln is an incredible protagonist and New Bordeaux is a fantastic setting thematically, and it would've been great to see them put to better use." Brian Mazique of Forbes gave the game an 8.1/10, saying, "This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you love a good character study and aren't in search of gameplay mechanics that break new ground in innovation and control, this is one you should own."
It was the second best-selling retail game in the UK in its week of release, only behind FIFA 17. The launch of Mafia III marked the biggest launch of a Mafia game ever in the UK, with the game sales being 58.7% more than that of Mafia II. It debuted at number 9 on the Japanese sales charts, with 15,838 copies sold. On November 2, 2016, Take-Two Interactive announced that the game shipped in 4.5 million in it first week, setting a new launch record for 2K Games. On February 7, 2017, Take-Two Interactive announced that the game has now shipped 5 million copies.
In 2017, development at Hangar 13 reportedly split into two groups, one focused on downloadable content for Mafia III, and one building the concepts for Mafia IV. Early ideas set the game in 1970s Las Vegas, with the “glitz and glamour of mob-controlled Sin City.” Plans for Mafia IV didn't last long as Hangar 13 chose to create their own original video game instead, though Hangar 13 reassured fans that they still own the series and would not forget about it.
In August 2019, Take-Two Interactive (parent company of 2K and Hangar 13) registered three trademarks in relation to the Mafia franchise. Two of the trademarks are for “Mafia” and their respective text-based logos only differ in typography. The first one is identical to the font used for the first two installments in the franchise. The second one is different and without any description. The third trademark directly mentions Mafia 2 and features the same silhouette logo from 2010.
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