Game of the Year Mafia III

first_img Review: ‘Fantasy Strike’ Is A Fighting Game That Understands…Game of the Year: Jordan Minor’s Best Video Games of 2018 For too long the definition of “Game of the Year” has been unfairly narrow. How boring is it to see every website shower the same stale AAA games with praise at the end of each holiday season? So at we’re doing what we can to put a stop to this in Game of the Year, a new column celebrating worthy alternative picks for the year’s greatest game regardless of genre, platform, year of release, or even quality. Here, any game can be Game of the Year!Mafia III didn’t quite make it onto my personal game of the year list last year. It’s a great game, and I was happy to see it win the award for best writing at the New York Video Game Awards. Shout out to Charles Webb. But as I’ll get into later, the experience of actually playing the game has just enough issues to bring down the rest of the stellar package. Still, Mafia III is a AAA video game about racism that’s not a complete embarrassment. So yeah, it’s this week’s Game of the Year.In a video game market full of open-world Grand Theft Auto clones, the Mafia series never really interested me. But the trailer for Mafia III was too striking to ignore. The late-1960s, Vietnam-era time period? Louisiana bayou setting? Lincoln Clay (the player character) is a biracial member of the African-American gang taking on the Italian mob establishment? Sign me up! A few months later at E3, 2K promoted the game with an elaborate Southern building of a booth and roaming New Orleans jazz funeral band.But in retrospect I think my choice to play Mafia III a few months after it came out, after all, the traditional AAA hype cycles, was the right one. Mafia III has a lot in common with other big games. It’s an open-world action game with lots of shooting and driving and side quests and vague stealth-action. But that’s not what makes it the Game of the Year. What works about Mafia III is its astonishingly real and thoughtful approach to issues of race in the context of a bombastic action game. And quality like that is timeless.More than the surface-level Black aesthetic of something like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’s 90s hip-hop West Coast, race is a potent theme all throughout Mafia III’s narrative and gameplay systems. White cops react negatively in your presence and show up faster in white parts of town compared to Black ones. Despite the Civil Rights Act being the law of the land, certain restaurants still kick you out for being “colored.” When you’re not listening to Jimi Hendrix or Barry McGuire, the radio plays white racist blowhards and underground Black militants. You can also wear a pseudo-Black Panther outfit yourself.Then there are the characters. While you might think Lincoln Clay being biracial will create some drama about him “straddling both worlds,” the game accurately shows that if you look Black, you’re just Black. Father James, a haunted WWII veteran turned priest and Lincoln’s conscience, may have darker skin, but they’re in the same boat. Also in that boat are Lincoln’s upstart mob partners, who all come from marginalized ethnic groups. Don’t forget that Italians like Vito Scaletta and Irish like Thomas Burke were once considered non-white. Meanwhile, Cassandra demonstrates the underlying tension that sometimes exists between Africans-Americans and other Blacks like Haitians.Mafia III isn’t just a polemic, though. It’s a realized world. New Bordeaux’s southern bayou vibe feels authentic and lived-in. Your CIA spook partner John Donovan drives home the Vietnam-era American paranoia. 1968 was a year where it really seemed like the country was falling apart. And tearing your way through the city’s grimy underbelly has more than a little in common with the grindhouse Blaxploitation movies just a few short years away from the game’s time period.These positive qualities make the negative ones more disappointing. The game has numerous technical glitches, even for an open-world game. And even when the game does work its structure is so repetitive it threatens to drain the fun from the otherwise enjoyable, if standard, third-person shooting and sneaking. Take out rackets to lure out small bosses to kill to lure out the big bosses. Assign the territory. Do it again in a new territory. Do it again and again. Set pieces like spiking fancy drinks with LSD, crashing a riverboat, competing in underground negro fights, and hunting enemies in a drowned amusements park are great and elaborate but infrequent spectacles.However, despite gameplay shortcomings, Mafia III satisfies me on a deep level. It’s a personal revenge fantasy about systematically dismantling a white power structure institution by institution. Granted, we’re talking about the criminal white power structure of the mob and not something like, say, the larger violent but quieter white supremacy enveloping America. Still, this is a game where you shoot down foes who are basically KKK members. If I can quote The Boondocks, “I woke up this morning wanting to shoot me a white man!” There’s no better way to get prepared for what 2017 has in store, so of course, Mafia III is the Game of the Year.Check back next week to read about the next Game of the Year! Stay on targetlast_img

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