Well, I guess it’s time to cover what I’ve been playing/reading over the past week in the wide world of gaming. My car obsession took a little break this week when I finally decided to delve into another AAA title, however this one much more focused on narrative than pure “gameplay.” In the news, a significant delay, an interesting tidbit about a beloved series that has fallen in favor the past year, and a studio closure are all on my mind today.
Mafia III - ($59.99) PC/PS4/Xbox One
As a birthday treat to myself, I decided to take a bit of a chance on a series I’d never played before and picked up Mafia III, mostly based on the positive things I’d heard/read about and watching a Giant Bomb stream. Also, I kind of wanted something with a strong narrative. Previous discussions about the prior games in the series made me think I wouldn’t be disappointed in this regard. I can tell you the game starts out amazingly strong, with an excellent protagonist in Lincoln Clay and plenty of realized characters surrounding him. The story itself is a simple betrayal/revenge tale but the choice in protagonist and setting makes all the difference here. Set in an analog of New Orleans (New Bordeaux) in 1968, Lincoln Clay is an African American Vietnam Veteran returning home to his “family” which includes a surrogate father who is a lower level operative of the Italian mob in the area. The game quickly has you embroiled in the mob operations, but the unique thing about this game is the constant scrutiny your character is under by both the police and the general citizens.
Depending on your location, any crime you commit could cause a random citizen to make a beeline for the nearest phone to call the police, whose response time and severity will also be based on where you are located. Also, while traveling through the city, the police will watch you to see if you do anything suspicious, even driving erratically can bring the heat down on you. The gameplay itself is solid, with a serviceable stealth system which I’ve been focusing on as opposed to gunplay except when necessary. This has kind of turned the game into a modern Assassin’s Creed, which I’m fine with.
A few nagging problems I’m having is that the open world things to do leave a bit to be desired, with a majority of the exploration of the city being relegated to finding collectibles so far. One of the other odd things I’m noticing is that while driving around, whenever you get out of the car, even for a moment, the song that is playing on the radio changes the next time you get in the car. It’s a small thing, but it takes me out of the moment in a lot of cases and can only be remedied by jumping out of the car while it’s still in motion.
I’m about a dozen hours in right now, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes, as that is so strong it’s making me power through the lesser gameplay shortcomings I’ve encountered so far.
Cool Story Bro
I haven’t even played any version of the game, but based on the graphical quality alone I’d been hotly anticipating Cuphead’s impending release this year. Sadly, the developers this week delayed the release into 2017, making the wait ever longer for something I was looking forward to playing on my Xbox One as something “exclusive” to consoles. I’m still excited for the eventual release, and hope the extra time means a better game in the end. You can read more about the reasons for the delay here.
I’ve got a secret to tell you: I’m a huge fan of the Rock Band Series, and spent many a weekend playing setlists hand crafted with my friends for hours on end. I was super excited about the prospect of the title becoming a platform on the new systems, and even more elated that my purchased DLC would carry over. While the launch was shaky, a good majority of my library migrated over without any real issues. Apparently I’m lucky, since certain regions, in this case Europe, are still waiting on DLC access 1 year later, mostly due to the complicated licensing deals Harmonix/MTV must have entered into to gain access to the songs. If you want to read more about the poor European odyssey, take a gander at the article here.
Finally, just today while scrolling through my Twitter feed, I was struck with some sad news that made me come to the realization that I’ll never get a sequel to Sleeping Dogs, as the studio that developed the 2012 open world game suddenly closed its doors today. You can read about the closure here and here.
Now go branch out and play/read something interesting.