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Explosive set pieces, chilling dialogue, an unsettling tone, all wrapped up with our protagonist delivering resonant narration over clips of what will be our journey to come. If you haven’t guessed (or, for whatever reason, blindly clicked this article without reading the title or seeing the title image), I’m talking about the recent trailers for the two upcoming games, Mafia III, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

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These two titles are easily a couple of the most anticipated games for 2016. In Uncharted 4 we once again take the role of Naughty Dog’s long time hero Nathan Drake, as he embarks upon one last epic journey. A journey that most certainly will have thrills, falls, explosions, quips, heart, twists, and turns as he concludes his role as the quick-witted adventurer we’ve come to adore (and no that’s not insinuating that Drake dies at the end of this game, calm down. Though, must say, it would be quite an emotional and dare I say – and don’t kill me – fitting end to such an awesome character and series. Or maybe Sully dies. Or oh! Elena…Sorry, I just enjoy emotional deaths in content that I love. Sounds sadistic, I know, but hey, that’s me. Maybe my ancestors were like French thespians or something; because we all know that the French have a fetish for dark, gloomy, and depressing forms of art. Okay, this parenthetical has gone on far too long…). Mafia III is a game brought to us by 2K and Hangar 13. Set in 1968, it tells the story of Lincoln Clay, a biracial orphan and Vietnam vet, who after his time in the armed forces, returns to his home of New Bordeaux to rejoin The Black Mob. After a series of unfortunate events, Clay sets out on a revenge mission aided by three others, one of them who will be a very familiar face to those that have played the second entry to this series.

Both these games are narrative driven, action-packed third-person shooters with elements of exploration. And both of them have had a number of trailers released up until now. Obviously, because Mafia III is releasing this October and Uncharted 4 is only a couple weeks away from release, we have seen much more of the Mafia3_OfficeTakedown_06latter than the former. But both Sony and 2K have released new trailers this past week for their respective games and it’s hard not to notice the similarities that both trailers share; which, by no means is a bad thing, as both of them only make me giddier to get my hands on these titles. So let’s go through each trailer and talk about everything that I loved, and also some things that I didn’t love. First up, Mafia III.

The Mafia series has always done a spectacular job in establishing the setting of the game. In the second game, the official trailer instantly established the mob world of the early 1950s, with every main character getting an appropriate snippet of screen time to slightly flesh out their persona. Sounds of the buzzing city life mixed with jazz music playing in the background, and of course, a good dose of gunshots, explosions, and sleazy one-liners from the games’ myriad of villains. The trailer for Mafia III, dubbed “One Way Road,” doesn’t stray far from the playbook.

“One Way Road,” is a two-minute story trailer that has our protagonist, Lincoln Clay (pretty bada$$ name by the way) narrating throughout. This trailer really gives us an idea of our character and what his revenge story is.

Let’s Start With The Good

–          STORY – Though revenge stories seem to be a tad trite when it comes to “mob” games/movies, this game seems to take it to a further level. This game takes play in 1968, in a fictionalized version of New Orleans. For those that don’t know, New Orleans during the early 1960s had what was known as the desegregation crisis of public schools. To put it short, the New Orleans School board attempted to postpone the mandatory desegregation from the federal government. A race riot broke out resulting in numerous deaths and threats against black children. It took over ten years for the New Orleans public schools to fully integrate. Furthermore, 1968 was the year that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. “One Way Road” definitely hits on the race trigger, showing Lincoln Clay, a biracial veteran who has had “everything taken away” by a white man, as the trailer suggests. Which brings me to my second highlight, Lincoln Clay.

–          LINCOLN CLAY – Arguably the most important aspect of any game with a game like this is the games’ protagonist. If the protagonist you play as is forgettable, and a cookie-cutter version of every other game, it almost certainly ruins the immersion for the player. Characters like Kratos in God of War, Niko Belic in GTAIV, and Ajay in Far Cry 4, personally are examples of protagonists that, for me, give out a resounding “meh,” which is a shame since the games they’re in are quite great. But this trailer, as with the previous ones, really get me hooked with Lincoln’s character. He seems to have depth and a true reason for everything he’s fighting for. This trailer only furthers my intrigue for this character, his background, and how he plans on tackling his goal with the odds of his environment stacked against him.

–          SETTING – I’ve already talked about how much I love the setting of this game. But the importance of the socio-political time and place of this game, combined with Lincoln’s background and story cannot be understated. Moreover, the influence of Jazz, and everything else that made the 60s famous simply brings this game so much life that I can’t wait to explore it.

–          SECONDARY CHARACTERS – Most games have secondary characters for the sake of having them. But the games that go the extra mile to give those characters depth and reason, are truly remembered. And though this trailer doesn’t give us enough to understand each of these characters, it does do enough to get me interested in them, which is more than most games are able to do in their entire play through.

–          COMBAT – You can go on YouTube and find half hour long gameplay videos of Mafia III, which will give you a good understanding of the mechanics of the game. But for one who hasn’t seen any of those videos, I must say that the combat in this game, through the limited clips of what I’ve seen in this trailer, looks quite good. Stealth takedowns, varied melee attacks, an assortment of weapons; this game seems to have it all.

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The Not So Great/Curious/Worrisome Elements

–          GRAPHICS – Now, visuals aren’t everything, and in no way am I saying that this game looks bad or anything less than good. However, when comparing it to upcoming games like Uncharted 4, Horizon: Zero Dawn, or even current games like Quantum Break, I’m not entirely sure if the visuals match up, especially the facial captures. Where the games mentioned, especially Uncharted 4 and Quantum Break, blew me away with how frighteningly realistic the facial captures on the characters looked, Mafia III simply met my expectations, rather than exceeding them. The lighting effects, NPC’s, and overall visual fidelity felt a little underwhelming when compared to other recent and upcoming games. But again, I’ll take gameplay and story over graphics any day, but it’s still something to note.

–          LACK OF DEPTH (STORY, GAMEPLAY) – I may be contradicting myself here with what I’ve mentioned earlier, but I’ll try to explain. This game is set in such a rich time period, neck deep in political and social issues, that it scares me that instead of really exploring those controversial and important elements of the setting, the game will simply be about, “kill bad guy, do mob sh#t, kill more bad guys, do more mob sh*t, kill main bad guy, finish game.” I understand that this is a video game, that has Mafia in the title, which obviously means doing a lot of that; I just hope there are moments in the game that go beyond just that and actually surprise me. Another aspect of depth that I’m curious about is the gameplay. Now again, I may be contradicting myself as I’ve said that the combat actually looks varied, but what I saw were two second snippets. It’s hard to do more than what’s already been done a dozen times in the past with a game like this; I simply hope that they do enough to make the game feel fresh in some aspects.

Alright, enough about Mafia III, let’s move on to the recent trailer for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

PlayStation released this 30-second trailer simply titled, “Gameplay Trailer” a couple days ago. We’ve already seen our fair share of Uncharted 4 trailers showing off the characters, gameplay, and so on. But let’s dive in once again and see what we can surmise from this last trailer of Naughty Dog’s upcoming title.

Let’s Start With The Good

–          GRAPHICS – Let’s get this out of the way: Uncharted 4 looks f#@king incredible. I mean, seriously. Naughty Dog has always done a tremendous job on presentation, dating back to the Jak & Daxter days, but this is on a whole other level. I was in awe the first time I saw that gameplay trailer back in E3, and this is no different. The trailer opens up with Nate and Sam coming into a run down village in a forest. We see mountain vistas in the distance and everything from the lighting, lush greenery, and beautiful vista, simply look gorgeous. The trailer moves quickly, cutting to different characters in different settings, and the many thrilling set-pieces we will be experiencing in this game. I was referring to the lack of polish with the facial captures in Mafia III; and that note is only present because I have a game like this to compare it with. The facial captures in this game are easily the best I’ve ever seen.

–          SECONDARY CHARACTERS – Uncharted has always featured likeable secondary characters. Sully, Elena, Chloe, are all examples of characters that add to the games story in the best of ways. They each have a direct and important relationship with Nate, and seeing those relationships grow throughout the franchise, has been a joy to see. Uncharted 4 seems to take that to the next level, with not only growing and deepening those relationships we’ve already seen established, but creating new ones that are just as important. This trailer presents the game in a much darker tone, and we can see that this story is going to be a much heavier narrative, and a true conclusion to this beloved franchise.

–          EPIC SET-PIECES – This has always been the iconic element of any Uncharted game, and this trailer clearly shows that Naughty Dog are going to go all out with this final installment. Car chases in the forest, explosions in a bell tower, dangling from the cliff of a crumbling building; we’re getting it all.

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The Not So Great/Curious/Worrisome Elements

Now, I could write more in this section if I were covering an earlier trailer that was a few minutes longer. But because this is a 30-second trailer with not much to go on, I only have a couple points to add.

–          NO SULLY/ELENA? – Something that I instantly noticed with this trailer, and even a couple of the earlier ones is the lack of screen time of both Sully and Elena. I know that 15-minute gameplay trailer we saw last year was a mission with Sully; but in recent trailers, his involvement in the game doesn’t seem to be that important (something that I really missed in Among Thieves). Moreover, we’ve seen practically nothing from Elena. I’m sure she’s in the game, heck she has to be, but all we’ve seen is that same shot of her concerned look that she gives towards the camera. It seems that this game primarily revolves around Sam and Nate, which is completely fine; I simply hope that we get enough time with two of the oldest (and most important) characters in the franchise.

–          “GAMEPLAY” TRAILER WITH NO GAMEPLAY – Okay, this one might be a tad…well, stupid, quite honestly. But I didn’t want there to be only one point on this section, so this is what you get. This trailer is simply titled, “Gameplay Trailer.” The issue? There really wasn’t any gameplay. I mean we saw a couple moments from action set-pieces, but that’s it. The trailer was primarily snippets of character interaction rather than actual gameplay. It resembled more of a story trailer rather than a gameplay one. But again, there’s been enough footage of Uncharted 4 in action beyond this trailer for us to have our fill so…yeah; I’m not really going to bash them for a mistitled YouTube video.

What are your guys’ thoughts on these new trailers for Mafia III and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End? Let us know in the comments below!