Omerta: City of Gangsters has a really solid idea on paper…a sim that puts you in control as you fight to make your name in the Mafia. Combining strategy elements as you build up your empire & turn based combat for dealing with specific events. Sadly it doesn’t live up to the lofty expectations that it set itself.
The story is set during probation time in the US & in Atlantic City. Playing as ‘The Boss’ you have to rise up the ladder of the Mafia organisations within the city all while dealing with rivals, the police & your own brother back in Sicily.
It’s a more detailed story then you might expect but not particularly interesting.
Gameplay is split between an over world sim & turn based combat. The idea is to expand your power-base by buying buildings & establishing businesses there. You can run 2 types of businesses…illegal & legal. Both will generate different types of money, dirty or clean. Dirty money can buy most illegal places while clean money is used to buy apartments to rent or construction lots to build on.
Your basic buildings are Speakeasies & Breweries…these 2 will get cash flowing. More & more expensive buildings become available as your hideout is upgraded but will cost.
Keeping the police presence low, local politicians happy, celebrities amused & the crime lords off your back will all cost money & time as well. Each level has sets of missions that will need to be finished to complete the level. As well random services will regularly appear requiring money to lower heat levels or selling batches of weapons/beer/liquor.
At first it might seem daunting but each level is reasonable small with limited buildings that you can actually buy. This part of the game is incredibly simple & once you have the basics set up money just rolls in. The problem is that there is rarely a sense of urgency…your missions can be left for ages while you collect piles of money to buy new weapons for your gang.
After the first couple of maps you’ll have this sneaking feeling that it’s not going to actually get any different or better…and it doesn’t.
The same ideas recycled level after level…even the combat missions have little variety in them.
These occur at certain story points of the game or can be initiated by attempting to rob a bank, break a gang-member out of prison or doing work for the local crime lord. Your gang can be filled with a number of unique individuals as the game progresses & you can select a certain number to accompany you on missions. Each gang member will have their own skills can level up adding new & improved attributes to your collection.
Each member is also skilled with a particularly type of weapon such as a sniper rifle, baseball bat or pistol.
A random map is generated such as warehouse or inside of a bar & you’re group are placed at one end. Played from a top down perspective each character has MP (movement points) and AP (action points). The aim is often to kill all the enemies within an area but sometimes it can be about collecting something then escaping.
These missions range in difficulty and if your win percentage is high enough some can be skipped all together. Attacking an enemy is based on chance percentages that can be improved by levelling up, using certain weapons, positioning on map etc. This can be one of the more frustrating things about the game as your character misses 3 times in a row with 74% chance.
Omerta is a game of missed opportunities…it’s like they wanted to do more but didn’t have the budget so had to scale it back significantly. It’s not a pretty game not does it controls fantastically well. It has numerous glitches such as freezing, slow-down & the music will just stop playing randomly.
Multi-player is a wasteland…if you can find someone playing publicly it will be a miracle. Once you are connected though it is quite stable. You can play co-operatively or competitively & it’s easy to see how a skilled player could just rampage through opponents. There is little fun to be here.
The game comes with plenty of DLC with the most significant being The Japanese Incentive. It adds an extra 12 missions…a new story set around Japanese honour & betrayal while adding some of the toughest gameplay elements yet.
The Japanese Incentive is the same gameplay as the main game except for one thing….rival gangs. These guys will buy up property on the same map as you limiting your business opportunities & forcing you to spend funds on weapons to attack their strongholds. If that wasn’t enough they will also attack your owned properties & if you don’t have them guarded they will always take them over.
The guards are expensive to buy & can be killed/fail in their defence. While the rival gang idea adds some urgency & more strategy to your gameplay (you really need to plan ahead now…no more sitting & waiting) it is often unfairly balanced in their favour.
Some of the new combat missions are also very tough as they involve sword-waving melee enemies that deal out huge damage. Some missions are also set across more than 1 stage with the same gang members used in the first having to participate in the 2nd with only a fraction of health returned.
Happily your full gang from the main game is included as well as a couple of interesting new additions. However all your collected weapons don’t which is pretty rubbish.
It’s not a great DLC but does add a fair bit of content to an already full game. There is easily about 15-20 hours of gameplay throughout…that’s if you don’t mind the repetitive nature & lack of imagination involved.
Omerta: City of Gangsters