If there’s one thing the Mafia series has always been good at, it’s creating a believable sense of time and place in a specific era of American culture. For Mafia 3, it’s the South in the late 1960s, a tumultuous period in American history filled with racial tension and gangland violence. While Lincoln Clay may be its main character – a young Vietnam vet betrayed by the Italian mob – it’s really the city, New Bordeaux, which feels like the star.

During a hands-off presentation (which you can watch below in its entirety), I got to see how Mafia 3’s city is trying to breathe new life into the open-world genre. Like New Orleans from an alternate universe, New Bordeaux features a lot of the hallmarks of the iconic Louisiana metropolis. Its architecture ranges from modern, neon-covered buildings, to creole cottages, ornate mansions, and the stacked balconies of the French Quarter. Jazz, classic rock, blues, and more pipe out of all corners of the city, whether it’s one of the dozens of licensed songs ranging from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Jimi Hendrix, or the original score which accompanies you on missions. The music I heard in the presentation was incredible, adding a real cinematic flair that most games can’t even touch. If anything, Mafia 3’s sense of time and place looks to be up there with any of Rockstar’s output.
 

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