Over the years, most AAA games and even indies have mastered the art of sound design and picked the right voice actors for the parts. Choosing a winner could be difficult in most situations, but this year is different and not because other games didn’t do well, but Mafia III did such an amazing job that, for me, it managed to overshadow every other game.
As a disclaimer, I love older music, so listening to the 60s hits alienated the grind through the game’s repetitive missions, but Mafia III’s sound is composed of so much more than just a really good soundtrack. The game’s voice acting is surreal with memorable performances from the well written trio of Lincoln Clay, John Donovan and Father James. Even in terms of sound design the game stands out. The weapon fire is synchronized perfectly with the gun’s kicking power and a reverberation that enhances the satisfaction of shooting mobs that fly over in a rag doll spectacle. Sound is well adjusted to the environment with each location coming to life through an amalgam of realistic and ear pleasing sounds. Materials trigger distinct sounds and the character’s footsteps have a sense of touchability enhancing the immersion to a great extent. Even the overly filtered sounds from the fictive 60s cars are not to be disregarded.
Mafia III screams 60s from every aspect of its sound body. Either soundtrack, cars, dialogues or radio conversation, the game is set on taking players back in time and does it so well in spite of its own set obstacles. Mafia III’s sound has an overall quality that’s unmatchable this year in an ironic antithesis with most of the game which can’t keep up with its greatest aspects.