Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
I was put off from playing Mafia 3 [official site] by John’s thorough review, which told tales of bugs, bad AI, repetitive mission design and more design flaws. But then a few people I respect kept praising it, for its supposedly exciting combat and its more-ish missions. I finally gave it a try a few weeks ago.
I had a nice time, for the five hours I played of it. I grew invested in Lincoln Clay’s quest for revenge and in exploring more of 1960’s New
Orleans Bordeaux. I didn’t encounter bad AI and bugs in that short play time – I suspect they have been partly patched out since release – but towards the end of the time I could see both versions of the game I’d read about begin to come into view. Mafia 3 began to make clear what kinds of missions I was going to be doing for the thirty or forty hours to follow.
John found that long middle to be saggy and bloated, while others I’ve read found it to be satisfying and relaxing. I can see how it could be either, depending on what you’re looking for. But I lean personally more towards the former. Not because of the game exactly – I didn’t play long enough into this section to even form a real opinion of its merits – but because I know that I’m not looking to clean up a map of icons at the moment. I’m not sure I ever will be again.
Mafia 3’s story grabbed me, but its mechanics did not. I find myself therefore wishing the game were six hours long, with the narrative-driven missions of its opening continuing promptly towards closure. Instead, I know I’ll never see the end of its story threads. Even if I really loved the combat – and I think it’s fine but nothing more – and kept playing for hours, I’d likely still never see the ending. That puts me off even trying to get further. Now Lincoln Clay’s story will be forever unresolved in my brain, and that’s a shame.
Or I’ll go watch the ending on YouTube, I guess.