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Some spoilers for storylines in Mafia 3

Butch:

Well, good thing I played cuz I’m unlikely to play for a while. Seems we have a bit of a bat problem in the house, so we’ve evacuated to my mom’s house until we’ve dealt with it. Hopefully home by next week.

Why’d you buy a house?

But I did do a lot! We’ll talk. Later.

Feminina:

Bat! What? I do not need to hear about more problems with houses! I have enough!

Bats are cute, though. Eat bugs. Useful.

Carry rabies. Less cute. Good luck with that.

I played a bit! Not that much. It was chilly. Kids were cranky. Waking up at ungodly hours of the morning because they were chilly. Makes one too tired to stay up at night murdering dudes.

But I did murder a few! Obviously. “When you’re tired of murdering dudes, you’re tired of life.” I think that’s how the saying goes.

Butch:

I have to cling to that.

Bats are not cute. They certainly aren’t cute when they’re freaking your kids out at 10 PM and costing you money and making you stay at nana’s.

This is a new problem, even for me.

I mean….shit.

Anyway…..

Took over the distillery, about to do protection, if I ever get home.

But the thing I did do, and then didn’t do, was great, then pissed me off.

Went and did the nice, mellow dope mission. Then went and stole a dope boat. This led to two very, VERY cool conversations with Emmanuel, who is a great, great character. The idea of bad people still killing bad dudes, family, again, loss, winding up selling weed because life kinda sucks, the contrast between Haitian black and African American….that shit was GOLD. We could blog on that for days. Indeed, we might need to. It was so good I wanted to do more of it. Emmanuel was great! He was developing! So when he said “There’s a bunch of Dixie mafia “guarding” a warehouse full of our stolen weed, go get it,” I was all “You got it dude! Especially if we can talk later.”

So I went to do it. Only to see “Racket is at maximum earn.”

To which I said two things. First, “Huh? There’s, like, eight more perks I want here. I’m DONE with Cassandra? Why’d they even GIVE me this quest?” Followed by “Fuck, game, really? You’re gonna do it again? FINALLY we have some great, themey, story bloggage and you are, once again, going to grind things to a damn halt for no real reason other than to make me go do stuff I don’t want to do?”

This game just can’t get the fuck out of its own way, can it?

Feminina:

Wasn’t Emmanuel great? What good conversations, and, as you say, really great character development and recognition of how different people in different situations have very different takes on things. Very well-played. Way to not just make a game about a black guy, but put a number of other black people in as well, and let them have different motivations and beliefs!

We’re also seeing a couple more women, which is nice. And there was a pretty good conversation with Nicki Burke after one of those “grab some stuff and take it to a place” missions. So even though those missions are fairly rote, they have some theme/story payoff which makes them worth doing.

I don’t know about maximum earn, though…I don’t think I got that message. I’m not sure I tried to do the warehouse full of weed mission, though. Maybe if I had, I would have run into the same issue. Maybe…later in the game you can advance the whole racket somehow and not be hitting ‘maximum earn’? I mean, one imagines maximum earn should be a good thing, not a roadblock.

Butch:

Well, must be a later thing cuz her earn is 100k, and on the handy perks list, I’m getting her 100k perk. But it goes up to perks you get when her earn is 300k, which is, you know, more.

I got the warehouse mission (or didn’t) immediately after the “steal the boat” mission, which was the second weed mission. (Side note: speeding away, in a hail of bullets, in a stolen boat while blaring Born to be Wild was more gleeful fun than I’ll ever admit.). I’ve had the “don’t tell me about loss” bit and the “how many you save?” Bit. You get that? Cuz I hav thoughts on that.

Game has too many roadblocks.

I can’t do Nikki missions yet cuz I haven’t killed the butcher. But I want to. Still intrigued that a) we saw her present day and b) she wasn’t in jail in the present and c) she sure seemed to hate her old man

Hmmm.

Feminina:

I got “don’t talk to me about loss.” Which…yeah. Don’t talk to that guy about loss. There’s some heavy stuff in this game.

Haven’t had the second conversation yet. Too busy murdering dudes and talking to Nicki Burke, I guess. (Is there some chemistry there?…I dunno…feels like maybe there is…)

Speaking of the documentary and how she shows up there…we haven’t talked about another interesting aspect of this game’s presentation, which is the use of actual photographs (of soldiers in Vietnam, or mobsters, or what-have-you) interspersed with the character animations.

What do we think about that? It’s a little distracting to me every time, to have the contrast of real image with the animation, but I also think it kind of grounds the game in reality…like, “this story is fiction, but stuff that characters are talking about was in fact happening in the real world, and here are pictures.” It also works interestingly with those collectibles (not just the nudity, but also Hot Rod), which also feature real-life photos and articles. “Here’s some stuff that was out there in the world at this time.”

I’m basically into it. Again, I do NOTICE it every time, because however good it is, animation–which I find is serviceable here if not always stunning (though one thing I’ve noticed is that this game has I think the best drinking animations I’ve seen, and that is obviously extremely important)–is never quite as REAL as an actual photograph, and so the contrast is always obvious. It always pulls me a little out of the story just because I’m not thinking about the story anymore, I’m thinking “hey, that’s a real picture of some dead mobster,” but…I’m pretty OK with it overall.

Butch:

Heavy, indeed. And something that turns the player’s perception of hero on its head. We’re all “Must avenge Sam and Ellis! They were my FAMILY, man!” And this dude is all (accurately) “Uh, they were criminals. MY family is worth avenging and you are….where?” Which is a pretty good point. On a couple levels. First, the micro level: we’re killing Kevin to avenge bad guys, not his family. But also on the macro level. He went to Vietnam, not Haiti. Bad shit was happening in Haiti. And Lincoln was a world away.

Dunno about chemistry, man. More on that in a second.

But dude….get that other conversation. We’ll talk. Later.

Plus, stealing boats is fun.

I kinda like the use of real photos. And no, not just cuz playboys. Documentaries often use different levels of picture quality, so I find it makes it more real, in a way. Especially as they sometimes go with a “less real” look than the basic game animation. We get those grainy “home movies” from time to time, or the “old film” of Donovan testifying, which are pretty cool, and I think it all comes together.

And the centerfolds are key.

You really should go talk to Emmanuel again.

Anyway, I found that, once the bat guys leave and you have 45 minutes to kill before Junior gets home, better get some playing in! So I did. Killed Sonny Blue (more on THAT in a bit), and the Butcher. About to talk to Nikki. Which I haven’t. Don’t spoil.

So I killed Sonny. Not so much for the money, but cuz he was particularly awful. I thought that level was great, and one thing that stood out was finding that dead guy who had been tortured, who I THINK was a guy I could have saved (wasn’t there a “if we pull poor (guy) out of there he’ll give us info?” Cuz I didn’t do that. And now I feel guilty). But it got me thinking, re “max earn”:

Earn seems to be a proxy for XP. More quests completed (side or main), more earn. More earn, more “perks,” or skills, or whatever you want to call them. In other words, more of the stuff games usually give you cuz of XP.

But the game gives you a choice: $1000 of money or $2000 of earn. And money is good. You can unlock guns, upgrade guns, etc. So the game is saying “Ok, good job. You finished a quest. Now CHOOSE: Gear or skills? Loot or XP?”

And that’s cool. Cuz often games GIVE you one, the other or both, but I can’t remember a game that keeps making you choose between a reward that would be better gear OR better skills, up to you, not both.

This game does so very much well. I’m STILL liking it more than I thought I would.

Feminina:

I think there was a guy you could pull out of there…it was an ‘Informant’ mission, I think. I did sneak in and free him and kill everyone around, and then was mildly peeved when I had to kill them all over again when I went back. Oh well.

Anyway, the point is, there was still a dead guy tied to a chair even though I went in after the other guy, so I think maybe that was just going to happen.

Although if you didn’t save the informant, he’s certainly dead but just, you know, inside an alligator as opposed to tied to a chair, so…maybe that’s not really comforting knowledge. You should still feel guilty, is my point now.

Immediate loot vs. earn is an interesting choice. I always take earn, though. Recruit everyone! EVERYONE MUST WORK FOR MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! (They don’t have to love me, though…Lincoln doesn’t give a damn whether people love him or not.)

But yeah, very good character and theme development, with the contrast between Haiti and Vietnam, and where both these guys were dealing with the different things they were dealing with…and of course Lincoln was in Vietnam and not in Haiti because the U.S. government cared about Vietnam (at least politically) but not about Haiti, so, you know, we cared about the spread of communism on the other side of the world but not about atrocities relatively next door.

Another interesting bit–have you been listening to the radio segments from “Native Son” on the story of Hollis Dupree? Interesting, still incredibly topical.

Butch:

I have heard those! And contrasted them with the “Voice,” who also is an interesting take.

Very cool stuff.

Which….

Sometimes I say to my kids “You know, when you’re bad, it’s especially frustrating because I know you know how to be good.” I want to say this to this game a lot.

A LOT.

 

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