Inevitably, this goes spectacularly awry when he's betrayed by his partner - and his friends and family are all killed. Now get this: Lincoln forms a mob of his own, to take down those who betrayed him. Can anybody say... irony!?
No. No they cannot. It's a very difficult word to pronounce correctly. Iranonly. Irrinally. Ireronney.
Mafia III is one of those open-world map-mopper games they have nowadays. I could spend some time describing it to you, but that would be like trying to describe a new door, that's exactly like your old door. Except: this one doesn't have a letterbox.
The shorthand I'm looking for is this: it's a Grand Theft Auto, albeit without the cynical humour, or the sheer variety of things to do. There's no skydiving, or mountain biking, or playing tennis, or running around in your underpants for shits and giggles.
There are basically two things to do in Mafia III: shooting people, and driving. That's not the end of the (open) world - them's some good shooting and driving. Unfortunately, it becomes repetitive, especially a few hours into the game, as you smear your criminal syndicate across the map, and the tight mission focus of the early sections literally bleeds away.
There's very little, gameplay-wise, that Mafia III can call its own. There are small spins on genre staples - like picking locks, tapping telephones, and radioing associates to drive to your location with weapons or cars, or to pick up your cash for safe storage. Unfortunately, even the way you take over the operations of rival criminal outfits has been done to death. At least the otherwise unremarkable Watchdogs tried to add something new to the genre. Specifically: a middle-aged, try-hard hackertwat.
Consequently, given that it's following a very familiar format, Mafia III lives and dies on its characters, its story, and its setting. Fortunately, there's much there to admire.
The city of New Bordeaux - a scarcely-disguised fictional version of New Orleans in the late-1960s - is stunning to look at, and to listen to.
Admittedly, it quickly runs through the cliches you might expect - Vietnam, Mardi Gras, voodoo (even JFK's assassination) - but by the same token, as unsurprising as this all is, it would've been disappointing not to have them.
It all feels authentic to its setting; in true GTA rip-off style, the radio is full of era-specific tunes. What's more, the story - which weaves back and forth through time, in a sort of documentary format - is surprisingly well told, well written, and well acted.
There's not a trace of humour or wit on display, admittedly - making some of the cut-scenes a bit of a slog - but that's to its credit. To do so would've trivialised the rest of its content; this is a serious story, told seriously, so... thank heck you get to shoot people and drive around in cool cars, otherwise it could've gotten really dull!
And that's the crux of my issue with Mafia III. It begins with a disclaimer at the use of racial language, and particularly the N-word. You don't get that with movies, or novels, which deal with that period of American history. They trust the audience to understand the difference between celebrating racism and crime, and commenting on it.
It highlights the dilemma video games face when trying to tackle heavier themes. How do you balance that with fun?
Unfortunately, as soon as you lob action in there, it becomes entertainment, rather than a work of serious fiction. Making the player the protagonist risks glorifying the main character's actions. You're not just asking the player to empathise with the lead - you're asking them to become him.
And, frankly, there's no question that Mafia III does exactly that. It's a shame that the first video game with an almost exclusively black cast should place them in the roles of criminals, that your character is a gun-wielding, immoral, thug, hellbent on revenge, and shooting cops.
There are moments early on where Clay is serving gumbo to the homeless - no, really ("Press X to serve gumbo") - where you get a sense of his inner goodness, but pretty soon you have him taking over heroin rackets, and running strip clubs. Because, apparently, that's a thing you always have to do in these sorts of games.
In one early mission I mistakenly believed he was freeing a bunch of drug-addicted prostitutes - when in actuality he was merely freeing them to work for him. That soon becomes just one of the morally dubious tasks that you'll be doing quite a lot of. It made me feel uncomfortable. And it made me feel uncomfortable that I felt uncomfortable... because I don't want to be that guy, who bellows at everything through his megaphone of political correctness.
Nevertheless, Mafia III did raise questions - especially with the state the world seems to be in these days. We feel more divided along racial lines than I can remember in my lifetime. When I got punched in the face back in the summer, far too many people asked if my assailant was black. He was - but so were all the people who got out of their cars to help me. It seems like everyone is defining everyone else through skin colour, religion, nationality, like we're all on high alert because they - whoever they may be - have it in for us. I find it deeply troubling.
There's more intolerance these days - not helped by the dangerous rhetoric of the US election and Brexit campaigns - and those who are less tolerated seem more vocal and angry than ever. Where we are at casts Mafia III in a different light.
The ending - or, endings - showcase something approaching redemption for Clay, but there's so little light in the darkness prior to that point, that it doesn't feel entirely earned, or consistent, or enough to dismiss all that has gone before.
So... I dunno. I don't want to be that guy, but it does concern me that crime seems to be the go-to genre for so many games. And not just crime - but black-on-white crime, or vice-versa. It might be a reflection of the world, but I do sometimes wish we'd inspire something better.
SCORE: III Mafias out of V Mafias.