It's been six years since we last saw a Mafia game. Mafia III, pitched as a gritty revenge tale by California-based developer Hangar 13, follows the story of Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam veteran who returns from the war to find his hometown of New Bordeaux being run by mobsters.
In what's truly a powerful opening 90 minutes, Mafia III sets the stage for a terrific story filled with violence and vindication, but what plays out is far more pedestrian, a real anticlimax. The game absolutely nails it in the soundtrack and atmosphere -- New Bordeaux is a solid doppleganger of New Orleans -- but it fails to explore much beyond the all-too-familiar trappings of tired open-world action and driving games.
Mafia III's brand of action includes brutal gun play, stealth and of course, city driving. But just four hours into it, I knew exactly what I was getting. The game's biggest problem is that things just aren't as varied as other open-world crime games out there. Very quickly, it turns into a snake eating its own tail, failing to provide enough variety to build significant momentum.
It's easy to draw comparisons to Grand Theft Auto V -- and I'd even argue the shooting action is better in Mafia III -- but GTA's wealth of diverse missions is sadly missing here.