Mafia 3 and a Messy BBQ


I have to locate and gun-down some white supremacists. A guilt-free delight. 

I'm playing as Lincoln Clay, a black veteran and an absolute unit. My pasty targets have congregated in an affluent suburb of 1968 New Bordeaux (New Orleans), so I'm going to stand out like a sore thumb. They are having a BBQ in some cunt's back yard. There'll be burgers, chicken, ribs and a side helping of old-timey, Southern racism.

I forgot to bring a bottle, but I did bring a rifle and a fist full of grenades.

I arrive outside the property and see the red markers appear on my radar. That means I've found my villains, but I'm confused by several blue symbols that seem to be mingling with the reds. Blues are cops. Blues aren't my friends, but for the most part they have been a separate enemy, better avoided than directly confronted. But they're here at the racism tea party.

I approach cautiously. I hop the chainlink fence and hug the wall alongside the house. I can hear the BBQ attendees chatting away. One of the cops is joking with some grandwizard. I won't repeat what he said, as it was deplorable, but it made me feel A-OK about wasting every last motherfucker at this party. White supremacists, cops, and even the lady from next door who just popped over to borrow some sugar and a burning cross. All are about to get a braining.

I draw my gun and emerge from cover. There they are, police and the white-sheet brigade in cahoots, like you might see on some smartphone video posted to twitter over the last two weeks. I don't have a smartphone at my disposable to capture this moment because it's 1968, and unless there are some major twists in Mafia 3's final third, Lincoln isn't a time traveler. I do have my rifle however, and I make a glorious mess. The fruit salad is ruined.

Some games get under you skin. You think about them throughout the day, and you look forward to returning come the evening time. You try to steal moments here and there, times where you wouldn't usually play, to fit in another 10-15 minute session. They aren't always great games, yet they gel with you in a way that most don't. Mafia 3 is far from perfect, but it has certainly grabbed my attention over the last ten days.

The main reason for this temporary infatuation is the setting and the characters. The gameplay is unspectacular but it's fine; the mission to mission churn is uninspired and repetitive, and even though I'm playing the definitive version, the visuals are still as rough as old leather. Pop-in and partially loaded textures are common annoyances. But I can overlook it all because I'm so invested in this period and these exceptionally-written characters.

I've long been fascinated by 1960s America, in particular the civil rights movement. Studying history through to university, I was usually drawn to ancient eras, but there was something about this turbulent period of modern history that sparked my interest. Exploring it here is an irresistible proposition. The no-holds-barred approach to racism makes for uncomfortable viewing, but it's so much more believable for it.

Racism in the US, or anywhere for that matter, is of course a topic that resonates today. The opinions expressed by the majority of Mafia 3's white cast seem both antiquated yet disturbingly modern. I couldn't have hoped to find a more fitting game for right now.

And while we're here: Black lives matter, fuck racism, and fuck anyone who has a problem with that. 

Look after each other.

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