When you get down to it, this is a game with a cast of 35 characters, including two bears, three robots, a vampire, history's buffest grandpa, a dude from another game series who's now been inexplicably written into Tekken lore, a lady who throws tigers, and whatever the hell Yoshimitsu is. It's a flashy, delirious mess whose love for all that messiness is tangibly honest and infectious.
Mafia III's biggest problem, then, is that the stuff you actually do as Lincoln is mind-numbingly repetitive. He and his associates have put together a rigid strategy for taking down their enemies. You drive from point to point killing mooks and destroying property, then go back to a place you've already been to kill a more powerful mook, and when you do that enough, you're rewarded with a mission to kill an even more powerful mook in a unique environment, like a dilapidated racist theme park. These set pieces are a merciful break in the monotony, but they're rare and all devolve into the same run-and-gun festivities.
At nearly 20 hours worth of quests to undertake and wildlands to explore, that same tedium threatens to kick in, but there’s enough pathos in its stories and weirdness in its sights—one of the first things I did was talk my way into the bed of an old-world Hollywood starlet who’d shoved her brain into a robot body that looked like a trashcan on tank treads—to easily sustain that runtime.