Putting A Hit On Mafia III

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Mafia III was poised to be an excellent open-world game that provided something different than the typical ‘small brains in a big, modern city’ theme.  No, we were to be treated with a documentary styled look at New Bordeaux (a fictitious New Orleans) in 1968, where racial tensions are more than just boiling over.  For the most part, Hangar 13 and 2K Games delivered a fantastic story and one of the most refreshing settings I’ve ever seen in an open world game, but there are far too many other issues that, for some reason, critics and gamers alike have been happy to ignore.

But not I.

In order to reach as many gamers as possible, Mafia III was released simultaneously on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.  There had been controversy mere days before release, as review outlets had confirmed they wouldn’t receive their review codes until day 1.  Needless to say, it was a troubling sign, as developers/publishers tend to mostly do this when there’s something about the game they don’t want you to see.  There are exceptions to this rule, however, as Doom had showed us earlier this year, and furthermore, 2K have been showing this game off plenty.  So, it had to be ready, right?

Yes and no.  There’s no denying we have a ‘complete’ product, here, but it sure as hell doesn’t reflect how a AAA release in 2016 should look and feel.

If we were to judge this game by its graphical style alone, to say it’s a mixed bag would be a bit of an understatement.  The image looks slightly blurry, fine textures as seen in cinematics disappear once you’re in the open world, cars look like plastic, the skybox looks like garbage, and water never looks as crisp on the surface as it should.

But the problems this game has go much, much deeper than that.

Lighting glitches constantly.  You can be standing in a room by yourself, and turning the camera will cause a flicker effect that completely breaks your immersion.  There are times I’ve been standing still, and have noticed the lighting on certain objects in my FOV flickering for no apparent reason.

That skybox I was talking about?  It’s hideous, yes, but it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t constantly drawing attention to itself.  When day turns to night or vice versa, it happens in a matter of seconds.  Same thing happens with the weather system:  It’ll be bright and sunny one moment, and seconds later, it’ll be dark and pouring.  They would have been better off just disabling all the fancy weather, settling instead for a slow and simple rotation between day and night.

Far too often have I loaded into the game’s world where most textures have yet to render.

The game has been crashing for people on each platform.  This could have been a minor inconvenience if you had the ability to save whenever you want, but the game is strictly checkpoint based.  Oh, and there’s no fast travel, either.  So you could spend 5 minutes driving from one location to the next, only to arrive, get through most of your objective and then… BWOOP.  Game over.  You’ll have to start back at your original location and drive to your mission point all over again.

Playing on the PC has brought some unique problems to my attention.  Everyone went crazy when they learned the game would only push 30 fps on day 1, but a patch was released a day later to address this.  You had the option to select 30, 60, or unlimited frames per second… problem was, the game is so poorly optimized, you’d need a PC from the future to hit 60 with all settings maxed out.  I play on an i7 4790k 4.0ghz, GTX 970, and 16GB of RAM… and 60 fps just wasn’t happening.

However, I’m not sure I’d want the game to hit higher frames.  Some of the game’s physics are seemingly tied to frame rate.  Lincoln’s coat ruffles realistically as he stomps the pavement in New Bordeaux at 30, but increasing the frames cause the animation to speed up.  Who knows what else in this game is tied to the frame rate, but I decided to stop pushing this game to its limits.  I have no desire to find out.  It’s glitchy enough without pushing past 30.  And you know the sad part?  You can REALLY tell they didn’t work on this for PC, because there’s barely any difference between the lowest and highest settings.

The actual mission structure seems uninspired, too.  This isn’t a technical issue, but it’s one that keeps the game from being as fun as it should for the length of time it wishes to keep you hooked.  There’s just not enough variety in gameplay.  Go here, beat up this goon, go there, beat up that goon, take out a really bad dude… repeat this process one more time, and you’ve just taken over a district.  That’s all there really is to the game.  Rinse and repeat over, and over, and over…

It’s a shame the acting and story in Mafia III are so damn good.  Driving also feels great, as does the gunplay.  I’m not a ‘stealth mission’ sort of guy, but it works well enough for me in this game that I keep challenging myself to see how far I can go without tipping the bad guys off.  Unfortunately, there’s so much other stuff that’s holding this game back from being something better, than I just can’t help but ask… Why?  Why was the game released in this state?  Another 6 months, maybe a year, could have made a huge difference.  Mafia III could have been one of the best open world games we’ve ever seen… instead, it’s a repetitious, glitch filled mess.

This.  This is why gamers are continually losing faith in the companies that provide content for them.  This is why more and more gamers on the internet as spreading the word about not pre-ordering.  And you know what?  Gamers are right to recoil in disgust.  So many reviews out there are praising this game for story and gameplay… and there hasn’t been enough emphasis on what’s wrong with this title.  Should a great story and great acting overshadow such severe flaws in game design?  I don’t think so.  Hell, it’s why I’m winding down after only 9 hours.  I just can’t push through the rest of this game unless 2K makes things right.  And let’s not compare this game to the likes of GTAV, which I’m aware had a much larger budget.  Thing is, games don’t necessarily need a large budget to release in a solid state.  CD Projekt RED completed The Witcher 3 AND advertised the shit out of it for less than one hundred million dollars.  GTA V, on the other hand, spent well over two hundred and fifty million… so much bloat.  A game like this could have, and should have been better.

Keep this in mind, folks.

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