It's increasingly become a tell tale of a game with problems when the publisher doesn't release review copies ahead of the release date Mafia 3 was another of those instances where they played this game holding off the full release to reviewers to try and stop the inevitable bad reviews ruining sales
There had been plenty of good press on the small sections of this game they had let press people play so I was cautiously optimistic that it was going to be fun but it's one of those experiences where the small initial glimpse shows something promising but when the full experience is revealed you realise that the small section was all they had and they just repeat it ad nauseam
Anyway mafia 3 is an open world game set in the 1960's where ex Vietnam army person Lincoln clay has returned from war but his black mob adoptive family are in trouble so he get's pulled back into crime and then things go tits up and he has to go on a man on fire/payback style revenge murder spree
The initial atmosphere was great slow cinematic introduction with some great period music Hendrix Cream sam and dave and the in game cut scenes character animation is pretty good what looks like full facial capture with teeth and tongue movement but the rest is not so great. It's a bit washed out the colour palet is heavy on the browns and oranges with this sort of fog effect over everything making it all look mushy. The day night cycle is broken going day to night and back again seemingly randomly the sky box is also an odd bright orange with what looks like really simple perlin noise clouds.
The intro is slow and takes a while with various flashbacks and scenes going on to tell the story of what leads to the revenge murder spree and there is some varied gameplay. Problems start to show though the driving model is odd cars slide all over the place cornering is tricky. The map is large and there is a lot of driving about no fast travel the game world is somewhat varied with neon covered town the more run down sections and then bayou swamp of the faux orleans that is the games setting of New Bordeaux.
It does something interesting with in game GPS it has the typical corner mini map but it also adds little road side signs that show at each junction what is coming up it works well to direct you without losing some immersion of a glowing line on the road surface.
There is a mechanism where if you commit a crime like steal a car or run someone down or even get in an accident people will report you to the cops (you then have a chance to stop them from reporting the crime which can get comedic as you steal a car then run down witness 1 who saw you do it and then witness 2 who saw kill witness 1 and then run down witness 3 who saw you kill witness 2 and then run down ... and so on till eventually it gives up)
If a crime does get reported then you just have to get out of a circle on the map avoiding cops (usually pretty easy) till they give up which can take a while. If a cop sees you do the crime or they catch you in the aforementioned map circle you have to evade them and get out of another circle from the last place they saw you.
A lot of this is complicated by the games AI which is dumb as bag of hammers people will just swerve into your path for no reason and then the 50 cops that are following you for clipping that suicidal pedestrian that decided to cross on a green light will pile in till it's like something out of blues brothers, which given the soundtrack is often appropriate.
The intro ends up being fairly fun you have to do a robbery during which we get a flashback to where we take out a rival gang boss then we have to escape in a boat then we have to sneak a wounded comrade through a mardie gras style parade that the cops are all over and a vehicle escape section it was varied with different things happening. I can only assume this was what was shown ahead of time to journalists as if it continued in that vein while it wouldn't be perfect (there are other problems) it would at least be interesting to play but It's never like this again.
Once the game proper starts the meat of the game is about taking territory from the hated mob who killed your family left you for dead and pissed in your cheerios. This is done by this process each territory has two sub bosses and one main boss. You first find what businesses these sub bossess are running by talking to an informant. Then you have to lure out the sub bosses by ruining their businesses (mostly go somewhere on the map kill everyone destroy everything collect all the money). Once you've done that you can take out the sub boss usually by going to one of the locations you've already cleared out that is now refilled with generic bad guys kill them all again then kill or spare the boss who offers no additional challenge than a normal enemy. Once you've done both sub bosses the main boss will turn up usually this is a bit more elaborate than then sub bosses but not by much it is the same kill everything mechanic then you get a cut scene.
Once you capture an area you can allocate the territory to one of your allies Stereotype Irish gangster man stereotype mafia gangster man or Stereotype Voodoo gangster woman.
There are also collection quests (dull) and some side quests like smuggling (go all the way to the far side of the map drive a truck/boat back) assassinations (kill a bloke) and that's about it. You just repeat set of missions for each territory and they are basically the same each time.
You can go stealthy or all guns blazing it really doesn't matter the AI is so dumb it's really no challenge. If you go stealthy you can whistle to attract enemies for a quick corner kill you can just stand in range of several enemies and pull them one after the other often killing them in plain view of their comrades unnoticed before tossing their bodies out of sight and hiding again. You can also just run up behind them knife them run to the next one and so on at some point they will start fighting back but you will have cleared most of them at this point. When they do fire at you they tend to focus on the last place you were so you can use the cover to run behind them and they will still be blasting indiscriminately away at the cover up the hill. You can pop up and shoot them down pretty easily. Gun wise you carry two different guns at start rifle/shotgun and pistol you run out of ammo fairly quickly.
From the intro section with the multiple things happening it then goes down hill to repeating the same action over and over and over again for a small dribble of story. It should be about working your way up the mafia food chain to get to the big boss accruing power and allies as you take over more and more of their operations but it ends up feeling like a slog of just repeating the same actions over and over.
It reminds me of the first assassins creed in that respect a good idea that doesn't stretch to a full game length so they just repeat it to pad out the experience. It feels like a massive missed opportunity an interesting world with great atmosphere but let down by mushy graphics dodgy ai and lack of originality of gameplay and derivative paint by numbers revenge story full of racists.
You can see why they didn't let reviewers near it