Disability Game Review: Mafia 3
By: Mike Matlock
Mafia 3 is an open world third person action game set in 1960s New Orleans. The main character is Vietnam veteran Lincoln Clay who was orphaned as a young kid and later adopted by black mobsters. After he returned home from the war, he gets swept up in his family’s life of crime and decides to create a new crime organization with his family in order to confront rival gangs. Developers Hanger 13 decided for a change in setting and chose New Orleans for this game because they wanted to get away from the stereotypical Italian mob scene. So Mafia 3 is rated M for mature, but it’s not just for the sex and violence. There is old-fashioned vernacular and not-so-subtle racism with complex subject matter that comes up. It’s important to note that one the most interesting things about Mafia 3 is how it handles race not only in the narrative but also in the gameplay mechanics. For instance, police in the game are a lot harder to get rid of and many restaurants and other places of business in town are still segregated so if Lincoln stays there for too long it can attract unwanted attention. Although it’s an unconventional method of putting race in the gameplay the effort is appreciated.
If you have ever played a Grand Theft Auto game in your life, you should be familiar with how Mafia 3’s gameplay works. You’ll be dealing with a lot of assassination missions and heist missions. The melee in the game is very fluid. There aren’t any intricate combinations, you just need to tap a button until the enemy’s health is low enough and then it will automatically start the finishing move. This makes close quarters combat fun and easy. Unfortunately, the control options for Mafia 3 are very limited. There are no remappable button options and although there are two different preset controls you can choose from there’s not much difference between them. Gamers with fine motor skill impairments will most certainly have a difficult time playing. I played this game on the PS4 and I guarantee that many disabled players will have to use the PlayStation’s accessibility options in order to get the controls to their liking. Like many recent action games, Mafia 3 makes use of every single button on the controller including the touchpad. Now you’ll mostly just be using a few buttons at a time during gameplay like fire, aim, melee, and cover. The thing is doing something as simple as getting in a car completely changes the layout of the controller, which can get frustrating if you’re having to use the system’s built-in accessibility options. I was constantly having to go back and forth between the game and the control menu back on the dashboard of the PS4 console. This really broke up the action. One great thing that Mafia 3 offers as far as gameplay options is the aim assist. It uses a sliding scale feature and on the highest setting the aim assist has great accuracy. It isn’t always reliable with long-distance enemies, but it has a nice snap-to mechanic that locks on to the nearest enemy.
Gamers with visual impairments shouldn’t have much trouble. The game is pretty bright even at night, but there is a brightness feature you can change if need be. Colorblind players should have a barrier-free experience as well. The game has subtitles and they are pretty consistent so I would say those with hearing impairments should do fine. It’s worth mentioning that the subtitles seemed a little small to read. So it might be difficult for some gamers to see and there’s no way to enlarge them on the console version. The soundtrack is definitely mood setting and time period appropriate. On the in-game radio, you’ll hear talented artists like Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson airplane. Still, none of the music is imperative to the gameplay or story. It just serves as nice background noise.
Mafia 3 is a fun open world action game that tries to explore the racial tensions in our nation’s history in a meaningful way. Maybe it’s not the most accurate portrayal of that time, but it was a better attempt than most games. The gameplay can be fun and the aim assist is helpful, but disabled gamers will have a lot of trouble playing this game. I highly recommend playing the PC version of this game as it might be the only way for some players to have the right accessibility options.
Overall Rating: Partially Accessible
Visual Rating: Barrier Free
Fine-Motor Rating: Inaccessible
Auditory Rating: Partially Accessible
Released For: PS4, Xbox One, PC, OS X
ESRB Rating: M