Last year, Mafia III told one of the strongest stories of 2016 along with some fun, if repetitive, gameplay. Now we have the first of three planned DLC expansions. Faster, Baby! takes place in a new area west of New Bordeaux called Sinclair Parish and puts a focus on the driving elements of the game. Does this DLC speed things up, or should it slow down a little?
The story begins when Lincoln Clay is contacted by radio broadcaster and Mafia III minor character The Voice to help him with a situation in the nearby Sinclair Parish. Unhappy with their extremely racist sheriff, a civil rights case has been filed against him. Unfortunately, anyone planning to testify against him has been "disappearing". Now Lincoln and The Voice's daughter Roxy need to get into Sinclair Parish and dismantle the sheriff's hold over it. The story is a lot more simple and straightforward than the main game. The villain, Sheriff Slim, is basically so overly racist that it's almost a parody. Roxy feels like she came right out of a blaxploitation film, but I was always entertained by her no-nonsense attitude. It's not like the story was bad, but after Mafia III provided my favorite narrative of 2016 I was a bit disappointed that the DLC didn't keep that up.
Faster, Baby! wastes no time setting up the mood of Sinclair Parish. On the drive in you see a couple of police officers making a group of prisoners dig a ditch, presumably for them. A hitchhiker tries to flag you down in an effort to get a ride out. Upon entering the cops are immediately on you for being a "suspicious driver". It's a lot more in your face than the main game was, but it does set up the important idea that Sinclair Parish desperately needs new management. Oddly enough, once you get into the town proper it almost seems like a pleasant place, one that's trying to hide its racist roots on the edge where normal people can't see. It's a really interest contrast that, much like the main game, makes the world feel alive.
The racism displayed in the setting doesn't just appear as flavor either. As long as you're in Sinclair Parish all cops are on a permanent "suspicious" state against you. It turns Faster, Baby! into an almost city-wide stealth game, as I constantly had to reroute myself and find new paths to take. I couldn't just cheese my way out and call in favors to stop dispatches either, as the parish isn't connected to New Bordeaux. By keeping away my usual tricks while forcing me to pay attention to the position of the police, I found just moving around to be a game all in itself.
There have also been some noticeable updates to the gameplay that come with Faster, Baby!. The biggest one is that you can now slow down time while driving a vehicle. This does make driving a lot easier, especially if you had a bad habit of overshooting your turns while driving too fast. You also now have the ability to throw explosives from your car, which is nice despite the fact that I couldn't really find any situation where I'd want to do this instead of shooting other cars. At the very least it's something that ties well with the new proximity mines that you can use, allowing you to lay traps for pursuing vehicles.
Using these new abilities, you'll partake in about 3-4 hours of new story missions. These may easily be the best story missions in Mafia III, almost feeling like they'd be better placed in a Grand Theft Auto game than here. One mission has you distracting the police by driving around smashing through various objects to keep their attention focused on you before eventually going to bail out your buddy. A later level saw a bloody firefight before concluding in a car chase set to Johnny Cash's Cocaine Blues. I honestly had a blast with every level, and I was trying to figure out why Mafia III's story missions could only hit this high sometimes.
Once you finish the story missions in Faster, Baby! you unlock a new gun and car that, while nice, are really nothing special. More importantly, you get access to a drug house and a strangely in-depth marijuana growing process that allows you to customize your strains of marijuana to create newer, better, product. You can sell the marijuana for money and put the money towards upgrading the drug house with better equipment so you can buy better product. It's actually a neat minigame, if only for how much effort seems to have been put into something that you ultimately never really need.
You also gain access to a series of side quests that give you more time to check out the new area. Similar to the main game, the side quests aren't really that interesting to play and mostly consist of "go here, kill that, steal this." Of the three, only one breaks the mold by having you crash through a pair of KKK meetings by driving a truck in, swerving around to hit several targets. While one out of three good side quests may be an improvement, I still wouldn't say that it's the number we really should be looking for.
Faster, Baby! is almost like a weird anti-Mafia III. The story, while not bad, doesn't tackle its subjects nearly as well as the main game did. On the other hand, the gameplay is constantly changing it up and offering up fun new directions and ideas. If you enjoyed Mafia III and just wished it changed it up a little more, Faster, Baby! may just be exactly what you're looking for.
Mafia III's first expansion, Faster, Baby!, turns the formula on its head. The story it offers is good, but not exceptional, while the gameplay is a huge step up. Fans of the main game should grab this when they can.
- Story Levels are Fantastic
- Sinclair Parish is a Great Setting
- Strangely Complex Drug House is Kind of Fun
- Soundtrack Put to Good Use
- Story Not as Interesting or Complex as Main Game
- Side Quests are Still Boring
- Drug House is, Ultimately, Pointless