Mafia III

De­vel­oper Han­gar 13 Pub­lisher 2K For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One Re­lease Oc­to­ber 7

EDGE - - DISPATCHES PERSPECTIVE -

Mafia III pub­lisher 2K jumped into EA’s grave at E3 this year, tak­ing over its ri­val’s usual booth and build­ing an en­tire house styled af­ter the game’s host city of New Bordeaux. Out­side, a live band played jazz stan­dards dur­ing the day, with a free bar set­ting up later on; in­side, book­cases slid aside to re­veal meet­ing rooms while knack­ered staff took breathers on plush leather fur­ni­ture. Among them were mem­bers of the de­vel­op­ment team at Han­gar 13. Some, half-se­ri­ously, were plot­ting putting the so­fas on the back of a van and driv­ing them the 400 miles to their ap­par­ently sparsely fur­nished stu­dio in No­vato.

Han­gar 13 was only set up in 2014 and im­me­di­ately tasked with mak­ing the third Mafia game, but the team was quickly up and run­ning – many Mafia II staff crossed the At­lantic from 2K Czech to work on the game. Sadly, de­spite the move to a new, more pow­er­ful gen­er­a­tion of hard­ware, lit­tle of what we see sug­gests things have moved on from Mafia III’s flawed, if like­able, pre­de­ces­sor.

En­e­mies, for in­stance, are sim­ply wit­less, first as pro­tag­o­nist Lin­coln Clay crouch-walks his way into a mo­tel room to kill a lo­cal pimp, then as he fights his way out, and again later on as he storms a casino boat to dis­patch Un­cle Lou, brother of the New Bordeaux mafia’s capo di tutti capi, Sal Mar­cano. Mis­sions, mean­while, seem to be gen­re­standard games of travel, kill and es­cape. It’s no looker, ei­ther – fa­cial an­i­ma­tion is par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­point­ing, though far from the only cul­prit.

It seems Han­gar 13 has in­stead fo­cused its at­ten­tion on the game’s over­all struc­ture. New Bordeaux is split into ten dis­tricts, each run by a dif­fer­ent mob­ster. Clay must first weaken them by cut­ting off their cash­flow in or­der to un­der­mine their stand­ing with Mar­cano. Then he kills the lo­cal boss, as­sumes con­trol of the area and de­cides, in an awk­ward ne­go­ti­a­tion, which of his three lieu­tenants will run it for him. Tem­pers fray and loy­al­ties frac­ture; up­set one of them too of­ten and they’ll betray you.

Clay may be the pro­tag­o­nist, but the world looks set to be the star, much more var­ied and, cru­cially, pop­u­lated than Mafia II’s Em­pire Bay. The game is set in 1968, a frac­tious time which, while surely re­quir­ing a del­i­cate hand, is packed with nar­ra­tive po­ten­tial. And the sound­track is cer­tain to be one for the ages, the E3 demo call­ing on Sam And Dave, Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Re­vival and Ja­nis Jo­plin for a trio of stone-cold clas­sics that are barely scratch­ing the sur­face of what was one of the most ex­cit­ing times in mu­si­cal his­tory. Han­gar 13 may not have much in the way of fur­ni­ture, but the of­fice turntable must’ve had a heck of a work­out.

The game is set in ’68, which, while re­quir­ing a del­i­cate hand, is packed with nar­ra­tive po­ten­tial

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