I’ve played games such as the fabulous Mafia , Mafia 2 and The Godfather and rather enjoyed their 1920’s setting and mature themes, old cars, buildings, guns and characters.
So when I discovered that a strategy game exists in the same era, I was keen to give it a try. Developed by Haemimont Games and published by Kalypso Media, Omerta: City of Gangsters is a top down strategy game crossed with crime boss simulator, set in 1920’s Atlantic City in the US of A and a type of game which has never been made before. Does being the first of its kind mean it’s an imminent failure or does it succeed?
Set in an era where alcohol was banned and shop owners were paying gangster bosses for protection, with the police getting sly bribes from other crime kingpins, Omerta: City of Gangsters places you as an immigrant called Freddie Tannino, fresh off the boat you start off with nothing and have to work your way from rags to riches as part of Atlantic City’s criminal underworld, smuggling, robbing, burgling, kidnapping as well as doing good deeds like holding expensive parties, pleasing local celebrities and other popularity gaining endeavours.
The story is driven by scripted events and tasks that have to be undertaken in order to progress, including; recruiting other gang members, however the story bored mainly because it was so confusing. It was tough to listen to the dialogue due to the terrible voice acting, back dropped by mind numbing jazz music that may appeal to few.
The gameplay crosses two genres, top down management sim for the most part, and real time strategy during combat sequences. In the top down management parts, the player is shown an area from said top down perspective, buildings, roads, pedestrians and cars are all shown and can be zoomed in or out of for better viewing. Some buildings can be interacted with, indicated by a spinning symbol floating above it, clicking on these buildings gives the player a choice of actions specific to that type of building for example a shop can be robbed for either money or alcohol (which are both classed as in game currency), or clubs can be used to hold flash parties to generate a dose of cash. Certain buildings can be bought and made into assets that bring in the dough or booze as well as expand and fortify your overall empire. Visually, converted buildings or parties or raids can’t be seen no matter how close you zoom in and the basis of the gameplay consists of clicking on a building, selecting an option then waiting until the instruction is completed then it’s onto the next. It gets very old and boring very fast and thankfully the gameplay is kind of refreshed when its war.
The combat is portrayed as a real time strategy game where players control their band of merry men, directing them to move a set number of spaces and utilizing their weapons or skills to take out enemy characters. Unfortunately the skills are seriously limited and the AI is awful, however, the visuals are quite nice at firs,t apart from the setting doesn’t differ. Speaking of the AI, the enemies always find a way past your cover which gets frustrating and their attacks always hit their mark whereas yours don’t, it gets very cheap in the latter part of the game, thankfully though there is some degree of depth with regards to levelling up your characters and unlocking more effective skills.
The graphics are impressive at first but stare at the same screen for too long and you will see that nothing changes to make things fresh. Atlantic City looks authentic with its billboard posters, advertisements, shoddy suburbs and busy shopping districts and beaches and the close up locations during combat are complex and full of obstacles that can be used for cover like tables, counters, pillars and windows. The graphics are nice and sharp overall with authenticity everywhere but there’s nothing to make the players jaw drop and nothing to write home about.
Omerta: City of Gangsters has a lot of potential and it’s an ambitious attempt at mixing two genres which would have succeeded if only both game types had some sort of wow factor with regards to set pieces, but nothing ups the slow and steady but boring tempo. Graphically, this game is a looker and the setting is authentic but there’s not a lot going on like huge explosions or parties that you can actually see. Overall a nice slow paced game but this doesn’t fit its mature themes and settings.
Omerta: City of Gangsters
Developer: Haemimont Games
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Release Date: 1st February 2013
Story – 2/5
Gameplay – 3/5
Graphics – 3/5
Overall – 2.5/5