Initial Mafia III Reviews Are Unacceptable

Mafia III is one of the most anticipated games of the year, and for good reason. A completely open-world game taking place in a faux New Orleans in the 1960s, the game has a diverse cast,  compelling story, and tackles a number of prevalent social issues that still plague us today, such as race. Now, we at Video Game Culture HQ are not ready to unveil our review of the game for the simple fact that we’re not far enough in the game to give a comprehensive critique (we’re roughly 30 hours in the game.) We are deeply disappointed though because the initial Mafia III reviews are unacceptable.

Now, this does not apply to every outlet that has reviewed Mafia III to this point, as almost a week has passed since the game’s release. There were some early reviews that were incredibly irresponsible though. 2K Games actually did not release any review copies early (we had the opportunity to apply for one, but it was caught in our spam folder) and all copies were distributed upon release. Yet somehow reviews came in prior to the game’s release. Not only that, but they were rushed and poorly written. One outlet even gave a shout out to their local “dealer”, an unnamed retail store, for providing them with an “early copy”, clearly breaking the street date. Is this what we have stooped to as journalists? Do we need to be first and give a half-assed review just to get clicks? Granted my review won’t be the first one out, but it will be thorough and it will be fair. Many early reviews simply weren’t, and the score had nothing to do with it. They were rushed in a race for first place in order to generate hits.

While one of the criticisms is that Mafia III is repetitive, it makes me wonder how far these “reviewers” have gotten in the game and whether or not they have ever played any gangster-esque game before. All mafia-type games have you recruit and acquire rackets in order to increase your cash flow. Missions can be repetitive. Does that take away from the enjoyment though? So far, I would say no, but again, let me make this clear: this is not my review of Mafia III and our review for Mafia III will be released when we feel that we have experienced all the game has to offer.

What these “reviewers” may or may not realize is that these “rushed” Mafia III reviews actually do affect game sales. There were several people even ready to cancel their pre-orders of the collector’s edition, which contains a number of goodies including the game’s incredible soundtrack, based off of one early review. Mind you, these outlets reviewed copies of the game that were not provided by 2K and these reviews were simply written to generate quick traffic without any care in the world in regards to quality. That is not what gaming journalism is about. Granted, this outlet is relatively new, but we take a professional approach in everything we do. We receive review copies from gaming publishers, give comprehensive reviews, always make sure to send our reviews out to publishers. We’re still establishing ourselves and shooting for the stars, but the behavior regarding early Mafia III reviews is unacceptable and certain outlets should be ashamed.

Look for our comprehensive Mafia III review, coming soon!


Bioshock The Collection Review

Bioshock was the critically acclaimed first-person shooter which was released in August of 2007 and spawned two sequels. Nine years later we are writing a Bioshock the Collection review, which includes all the DLC from the franchise as well as all three games in one remastered package. While this console generation has been oversaturated with remasters, Bioshock The Collection is a nice surprise, as these games are some of the best of last generation. Do they still hold up though compared to today’s shooters? Nine years have passed and games have evolved dramatically, but if there’s anything to be said about that it shows that Bioshock is even more unique than before. The gameplay, story, the incredible music; everything makes Bioshock The Collection worth playing, especially if you haven’t experienced the trilogy before.

The Bioshock Collection Review — A Masterpiece


It has to be said. The Bioshock series is a video game masterpiece. The first title is dark and dreary, taking place in an underwater city called ‘Rapture.’ The gameplay is superb and sets itself apart from traditional first-person shooters. Ammo is scarce and there are RPG elements in the game. There are also powers that the main character can use, named Jack, called Plasmid use, although this is limited unless more serum is found by the player. The real question posed here though is that, after nine years, does the game still stand up to today’s standards? I would say yes. It still differentiates itself from current shooters, but does it hold up gameplay-wise comparably? This was a challenge to assess while writing our Bioshock The Collection review.

Bioshock The Collection Review — How it Looks


Bioshock has never looked better in high definition splendor. We were utterly impressed while preparing for our Bioshock The Collection review. The atmospheres are stunning in each game, especially the underwater nature of the first title. The particle effects are top-notch, including the ones from the plasmid attacks which vary in accordance to the elements. The buildings and locations are bursting with color and it is a serious step up from the original three games. All in all, 2K did an amazing job remastering Bioshock, a game just about everyone wanted to see remastered and play again.

Bioshock The Collection Review — Gameplay


Bioshock is an FPS with RPG elements. You can level up plasmids, weapons, and even bullets. The system is very intricate, including a number of different abilities you can gain throughout your adventure. The question is, does it stand up to today’s FPS/RPG shooters? The answer is yes and no. You can aim down the sights, but you have to press the L3 button in order to do so, which is very counterintuitive. In fact, I prefer to just shoot from the hip without using the sights; it makes it feel more old school and it differentiates it from other shooters, as the accuracy is still there. Plasmids are very unique and set Bioshock apart from any other FPS on the market. They are so much fun to use and are necessary, as ammo is very scarce and enemies swarm at you. So yes, in a way, Bioshock is a little outdated in its shooting mechanics (at least 1), but that’s OK. With the plasmids, upgrades, and the unique environments found throughout the games and unique concepts, our Bioshock The Collection review doesn’t take that away from the title. The gameplay simply works, masterfully, and the stories are full of twists and turns which we will not spoil here for those (like myself before this sans Infinite) who haven’t played them.

Bioshock The Collection Review — A Remaster Done Right


Bioshock The Collection is a remaster done right. With all the DLC from all three games, which adds on hours of gameplay to the Bioshock experience, a director’s commentary, and the series remastered in 1080p, there’s nothing more to ask in terms of quality. Sure, parts of the series are a little outdated because of the fact that the first game is nine-years-old, but, it more than makes up for it with stellar gameplay and a series of narratives with twists and turns that you would never see coming. Bioshock The Collection is an incredible value for its cost and it is one of the most incredibly unique experiences in all of gaming. While we didn’t mention much of the story in our Bioshock The Collection review, there are simply too many plot twists that would get into philosophical discussions and ruin it for you, the reader. So play the games for yourselves and enjoy because it is well worth it.

Mafia III Gamescom Trailer Unveiled

2K Games and Take-Two Interactive unveiled the Mafia III Gamescom trailer this week at the event. We actually had the chance to view a hands-off demo of Mafia III at E3 2016 and were very impressed with 2K’s booth, which was one of the highlights of the show. The game takes place in New Bordeaux, Louisiana, which is a fictional version of New Orleans. The trailer focuses on a bank heist and while it isn’t necessarily clear which character are which, as I personally never played Mafia II and the first game was so long ago, the game is action packed and the heist is fast paced.

The Mafia III Gamescom trailer makes us even more excited for the title. It is an open-world action adventure game where choice matters and have dire consequences, which is exciting. Choices shape the gameplay experience and each player’s playthrough can be drastically different. Besides that, the action is impressive with some very cool gameplay mechanics. The title releases on October 7, which seems like an eternity away. While we have to wait a few months, time will fly by as it always does (unless you’re Cartman from South Park waiting for a Wii) and you can find our review of the game right here at Video Game Culture HQ, so stay tuned.

Top 5 Games of E3 2016

E3 2016 has wrapped up, and along with it, our coverage is finally nearing its end. Before we finish things up though, we want to package everything that we saw together in order to give you our top 5 games of E3. It wasn’t easy choosing; there was so much shown at the show that literally blew our minds. While there were a lot of amazing reveals and a lot of games shown, we are going to limit our list of games to those that we were able to experience at E3 2016. As a full disclosure, there are no VR games or experiences on our list for one simple reason: they make me incredibly sick due to an eye condition, so unfortunately, I was unable to truly experience those games with any enjoyment, although I know I’m probably in the minority. That being said, here are our top 5 games of E3 2016.

Top 5 Games of E3 — 5. Mafia III


It’s really hard to place Mafia III at the bottom of the list (although even making this list is an accomplishment), but we simply experienced so many games that we’re excited for. Mafia III is one of our top 5 E3 games because of the compelling narrative, fun gameplay, the open-world experience, and most of all, the fact that your choices ultimately shape your experience. You could play the game multiple times but based on certain choices you make, you could wind up with a completely different experience each time, which not only gives it a lot of replayability value but intrigues us as to what our experience will be with Mafia III.

Top 5 Games of E3 — 4. Horizon Zero Dawn


Horizon Zero Dawn was one of our favorite games at E3 2016, but the only reason why it is rather low on this list is simply because the demo that we were given was so compact and didn’t take advantage of the open world that Aloy explores during the game. Sony and Guerrilla Games probably didn’t want to show too much, and this is fine, but we were very constricted. We wish that we were able to explore a bit of this world, even for the brief 10 minutes or so that we had with the game, as this is one of the main allures of the title. That being said though, Horizon Zero Dawn is magnificent which is why it is on our top 5 games of E3 list. The controls are very tight, the combat is incredibly fun and takes some strategy, which we like, and from what we saw of the world it is incredibly enticing. Although we wish there was more to the demo, we were beyond thrilled to be able to go hands-on with the game and it is our most anticipated PlayStation title in years.

Top 5 Games of E3 — 3. Gears of War 4


Gears of War 4 promises to be a very special game. While we were treated to a beta of the multiplayer aspect of the title earlier this year, which disappointed us just a little bit, we were thrilled to be able to view a hands-off demo of the Gears of War 4 campaign. As we said in our preview article, it brings something old yet something new, and this is something that we think will prove to be a successful formula. With some brand new gameplay mechanics, new characters, unique weapons, and a somewhat different atmosphere, Gears 4 has all the makings of a classic and is the game that the Xbox One has been waiting for, which is why it is one of our top 5 games of E3.

Top 5 Games of E3 — 2. Batman The Telltale Series


Telltale Games are master storytellers. We were left incredibly impressed with the first half-hour of the first episode of their Batman series, which is one of the most unique takes on the Dark Knight that we have seen to date. It’s not the Batman aspect of the character that intrigues us the most though — it’s the Bruce Wayne persona. He’s portrayed so differently than we have ever seen and we are very excited for Telltale to delve into the psyche of who this man is and who his true self is. Is Batman the mask, or is Bruce Wayne? This is a pivotal question and we have no doubt Telltale will explore this further. The game aims to split the Bruce Wayne scenes and Batman scenes 50/50, and while we have a little bit more to share with our interview with Richard Iggo of Telltale Games, which will be coming shortly, Batman The Telltale Series promises to be both character and action driven, sparking a perfect balance of the two. This is why it is number two on our top 5 games of E3 list.

Top 5 Games of E3 — 1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


Like there ever was any doubt. Breath of the Wild quite literally took our breath away. The world, the landscape, the story (from what we know), the gameplay — everything was as close to perfection as could be. For the first time since Ocarina of Time, the controls for Zelda are completely different and we actually haven’t anticipated a Zelda game this much since Ocarina of Time. While we loved the previous console iteration of Zelda, Skyward Sword, Breath of the Wild is almost its antithesis, and this a good thing. There’s a freedom to be found in Breath of the Wild that hasn’t been found in a Zelda game in maybe 30 years. By giving us two immersive demos showing off two different aspects of the game, Nintendo was able to give us an experience that simply has us craving for more. March (presumably?) cannot come soon enough and this is easily our most anticipated title from any home console in the last 10 years or so, at least. Nintendo put on a masterful performance at E3 and Zelda was by far the game that everyone wanted to play (the line proved it), which is why it is our top game of E3 2016.

E3 2016: Civilization VI Preview — A 25 Year Celebration

Civilization VI, which is being developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games, is a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Civilization series, giving you the ability to build a civilization from the time of the stone ages to the time of space exploration; the game is has a certain amount of complexity to it. We were treated to a theater presentation which included a demo of the title for our Civilization VI preview, giving us an overview of the features present in the title. While I personally have only played Civilization IV, and only briefly, I was left incredibly impressed by what we saw and we can’t wait to see more.

Civilization VI Preview — Beginnings


As we stated, Civilization VI is a celebration of sorts of the 25th anniversary of the Civilization series. During our Civilization VI preview, we were first treated to an introduction of sorts to the initial stages of building your civilization. Of course, civilizations require structures, so in order to create this infrastructure builders forge the foundation of the beginning of your civilization. The next thing we learned is that agriculture is crucial and is the sustenance for your settlement, which is a bit of common sense. You can create rice fields and these lead to further development. We were very impressed by the way 2K Games presented Civilization VI and how they walked us through the process on how to build a successful civilization from the ashes, especially as we are not very experienced with the series.

Civilization VI Preview — Digging Deeper


In our Civilization VI preview we were shown that as you grow your civilization, it is crucial to connect your various settlements as trade allows your civilization to flourish. Segmenting your civilization will destroy it. As this takes place, trading advances and further grows your civilization. Each city that you establish is unique within itself, which gives the experience a certain amount of diversity, which we found to be very exciting. Building barracks for combat is quintessential for protecting your civilization, as it will come under attack from barbarians when you first start out.

Civilization VI Preview — Neighbors


As your civilization grows and advances, you will begin to encounter neighboring civilizations. Through this you can trade for goods and services that would otherwise be unavailable to you. Contacting other civilizations will ultimately leads to some politicking in the form of building policies, and these can lead to even more growth, which continues the advancement of your civilization. We also learned in our Civilization VI preview that your civilization will have cultural needs; each settlement within your civilization will have a unique culture. Catering to these needs is very important to keep your settlements happy and you can even incorporate aspects of your neighbors’ culture into your own. As you continue to advance, your civilization will eventually enter into an industrial revolution. This creates more competition for resources, even within your own civilization, and it’s essential to spread around the wealth to keep everyone satisfied. Unfortunately, this can also make your neighbors extremely jealous of your civilization’s advancement and could lead to conflict. Technology differences will grow as you take over other civilizations, and you incorporate their advancements into your own.

Civilization VI Preview — The Ultimate Turn-Based Strategy Game


While we are not incredibly experienced in playing the Civilization series, we were left very impressed with the level of depth and strategy in the game that was shown during our Civilization VI preview. Civilization VI looks very good from a visual standpoint and the various aspects of building your civilization from the ground up from beginning to end leaves us very excited, as this is said to be the most in-depth Civilization game yet. It is the ultimate turn-based strategy game and we are ecstatic to get our hands on it on October 21 on Microsoft Windows.

E3 2016: Mafia III Preview — The Saga Continues

We had the pleasure of viewing a hands-off demo from developer Hangar 13 and publisher 2K Games for our Mafia III preview. The third incarnation of the series, Mafia III is a completely open-world gangster title full of enticing characters with depth and fascinating locales, even including some familiar faces from previous games. While it is loosely connected to the other Mafia titles, it is its own game and we were very excited from what we saw.

Mafia III Preview — The Premise


Mafia III takes place in 1968 and focuses on Lincoln Clay, an African American man who is a Vietnam veteran and has just returned to New Bordeaux, which is a reimagined version of New Orleans. Without a family of his own, he found comfort in the black mob. Not soon after he finally found the belonging he always sought, the Italian mob, under the orders of Sal Marcano, massacred Lincoln’s newfound family. Being the sole survivor of the massacre, Clay is bloodthirsty and out for revenge. He recruits three people to be his underbosses in his pursuit for vengeance and Vito Scaletta, the main character from Mafia II, actually returns for this installment in the series. It is at this point during our Mafia III preview that things got interesting and we saw the dynamics of the characters, gameplay, and the massive open world that encompasses New Bordeaux.

Mafia III Preview — The World

Mafia III takes place in a reimagined version of New Orleans and is broken up into 10 diverse districts that Lincoln and his crew can take over in order to begin to exact revenge on mob boss Sal Marcano. Just as an example, one district, Frisco Fields, has a sense of heightened racism, which may play a part in in Lincoln’s interactions with the local residents. There is even a district called the French Ward, which is taken straight out of New Orleans. 2K Games actually described the city of New Bordeaux itself as the main character of the game, and from the brief glimpse that we had during our Mafia III preview, we could see how distinct each area is. In fact, the music in the game was one thing that truly stood out to us. It had that classic New Orleans vibe, full of jazz, blues, and classic songs from 60s era.


Lincoln has a number of different of ways to diminish Marcano’s influence, and one of the the largest ways is to take over rackets. This can be done using numerous tactics, and one that we witnessed was taking over a business enterprise that provided call girls, presumably to members of the Marcano family. You can also rob an orgy ring and seize the territory for yourself. Interrogating witnesses or members of the Marcano mob will also give you valuable information and kills will send a message to Marcano, although you have to be careful to steer clear of any witnesses. All of this helps you take over each district and reduce Sal Marcano’s influence in New Bordeaux.

Mafia III Preview — The Combat

During our Mafia III preview we were able to witness quite the action sequence which showed off a lot the game’s combat and gameplay. There are a number of different ways to approach combat — you can go in guns blazing, or you can take more of a stealth approach. Both were shown off during the demo and a combination of the two is probably most ideal. The sequence that we were treated to during our Mafia III preview was a massive set piece full of high-paced action and a sense of urgency in Lincoln Clay’s quest for revenge. There is a cover system in the game that does help with the guns-blazing approach. Stealth is incredibly valuable because it keeps you from being detected, but there are times where that just is not a viable option.


There are a number of different weapons in the game and your loadout is diverse. One thing that was pretty interesting was that the shotgun actually seemed to have a good amount of range on it, and as a shotgun fan, this was very exciting. Environments are destructible so you can’t stay in cover in one place for too long. In the latter part of the action-oriented portion of the demo, there was no choice but to simply fire away at enemies in a closed-off room, so moving from cover area to cover area became a pertinent aspect of survival. Your arsenal, from what we saw, mainly comprised of guns, but Clay also used molotov cocktails to light enemies and areas on fire. There is another really satisfying combo that is used in the game where Clay can melee an enemy, hold down the B button (presumably on the Xbox One), and pull off some killer moves, including a shotgun to the face, which looks incredibly satisfying. Enemies can also call for reinforcements, which can overwhelming, but you can do the same as well. This portion of the Mafia III demo was the longest, and it ended with Lincoln Clay sending a “message” to Sal Marcano in classic Mafia style.

Mafia III Preview — Character Dynamics


Mafia III is a game where decisions matter. Once you take over a district, decisions have to be made on which one of your underbosses will be controlling that district. Once you assign a territory to one of your colleagues, friction mounts up and you may even have to take one of your underbosses out in a firefight. All the characters want a part of the action and respect is one of the key factors in this. Not everyone will be happy by the decisions you make and this will ultimately lead to confrontation. What impressed us the most during our Mafia III preview was that these decisions will ultimately shape your experience with the game and how it plays out. Not only is the game open world and action oriented, but choices define each individual experience. You could play the game multiple times and in a sense play a completely different version of the game, giving it a ton of replayability, which is so rare in a genre such as this.

Mafia III Preview — A Promising Experience


Mafia III appears to have all the makings of a fantastic game. In fact, it was one of our favorite titles that we got to experience at E3. The atmosphere is unique, the New Orleans-like setting is incredibly intriguing, especially playing as a black man in the rural south, and it simply seems like a lot of fun with the combat and the rich open world that is ripe for exploration. It appears to have a lot depth and what we’re most excited about is being able to make those choices that ultimately define our experience with the game. Mafia III comes out on October 7, 2016 for Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and if what we saw is any indication, it has the potential to blow gamers away.