Mafia III Sign of the Times DLC Review
There’s a lot of mundane tasks to complete in Mafia III’s final DLC offering, Sign of the Times. After the incredibly fun Faster Baby DLC and the immaculate Stones Unturned campaign, the developers at Hangar 13 dropped the ball with an expansion that is filled with individual moments of brilliance in between large swaths of boredom. And to make matters worse, Mafia III’s ridiculous consistency to deliver superb narratives, whether in the main campaign or the DLC, comes to a violent halt with Sign of the Times.
It opens with an interesting plot that focuses on a religious hate cult that is ravaging members of New Bordeaux with their magic and illegal toxins. I should have taken the early warning signs to heart because the story goes from zero to a hundred before I was able to care about any of the new characters that were introduced. With the Faster Baby DLC, the developers were able to keep things moving while also crafting brilliant characters that I immediately fell in love with. In this DLC, Lincoln is tasked to protect a girl who seemingly falls into peril by happenstance and then is barely able to mutter a word over the course of the two hours to complete the main storyline.
“Sign of the Times is a short, boring escapade that is filled with brilliant moments.”
The religious cult that acts as the story’s antagonists are similarly underdeveloped and the ending to it all is blatantly rushed. It sort of feels like there was a story in between Sign of the Times and the last DLC that I just missed out on. Hangar 13 take no time to ease the player in, which is especially damaging here because of how confusing the story becomes. And it doesn’t help that some of the voice acting is simply not good enough. However, the developers fill the campaign with dozens of short, individual moments that I won’t soon forget.
Open world games have always pushed for emergent gameplay, wherein the world crafts experiences unique to each player that comes from the player’s many interactions. Sign of the Times is filled with these types of moments, as well as scripted ones that are just as impactful. Religious fanatics barging in front of you with a huge garbage truck as you’re zooming down a back alley in your sports car, the crackling of lightning the very minute you pull off a headshot on top of a roof overlooking the city, and a certain radio ‘easter egg’ that comes into play near the end of the adventure. I continuously found myself either pausing the game to take it all in or hitting the share button as fast as I could. These types of moments are rare in general, but Sign of the Times delivers them with reckless abandon.
The DLC throws in a few mechanical additions including a slow-mo firing mechanic that works as it sounds and some throwing knives that are dead accurate and perfect for a stealthier approach. Although, they aren’t so useful when walking through the horror focused areas of the game that have the player investigating dead bodies and Pagan idols a la Batman. While the detective work is a bore, simply highlighting different parts of dead bodies and interacting with them, these slower objectives are incredibly terrifying as you crawl through haunted houses and abandoned high schools.
The use of creepy sound effects definitely spooked me and I sprinted out of some areas before killing everyone. One specific moment had me dodge a hail of bullets before hopping into a car just before back-up arrived – another example of Sign of the Times’ memorable moments. The art style’s focus on deep colors and neon lights, due to Lincoln’s ingesting of Scarecrow toxins, created a stark contrast with an otherwise colorless city and broke up the monotony of having to see the muck and the mire of New Bordeaux. Speaking of the southern city, the post-campaign add-on to this DLC is the ability to renovate Sammy’s bar. Players accrue funds from their various escapades before tossing hundreds of thousands of dollars – seriously, I don’t think a single player in the world could purchase all the upgrades outright – to bring back the iconic setting of one of the best cutscenes in video game history. Yes, that one!
Sign of the Times is a short, boring escapade that is filled with brilliant moments. However, its biggest failure is its inexcusable and confusing narrative, paired with new characters that I wanted to be rid of. The introduction of slow-mo shooting is welcomed, especially when being overrun by dozens of enemies, but the detective mechanic is painfully simple. After two stellar DLC offerings, third time is not the charm for the last of Mafia III’s three expansions.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Lots of great moments
- Terrifying scares
- Horrible story
- Some poor voice acting
- Boring detective missions