Haemimont Games (developers of Tropico 4) brings us a hybrid commerce/management simulation stroke turn based tactical combat game called Omerta: City of Gangsters. An attempt at blending Tropico and XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
It’s the swinging 20s and Prohibition is in full force in the streets of Atlantic city. It’s your job to exploit the businesses, evade the police and deal with rival gangs in an attempt to become a big Boss, surrounded by riches. You choose your avatar, Tropico 4 style and I name myself Nucky Thompson.
Starting out with petty heists you raid breweries, warehouses and stores for their goods, building up a bit of dirty cash which you can then start expanding with – buying businesses and property, buying more goods to sell, pimping out your hideout and so on. It’s a very simplistic trade-up economy. Once you’ve got your basics down you can start to turn your dirty money into clean cash using accountants and building pharmacies, nightclubs and hotels to launder your filthy riches.
t is all extremely easy; becoming rich is no problem at all and the amount of tasks available to you are limited. There’s supposed to be a choice – do you want to be raiding and doing drive-bys and deal with the consequences of angry gangs and a falling reputation? Or do you want to set up legitimate businesses to launder money and just buy and sell on the black market, risking an investigation from the feds. How far can you push your illegal activities before the police start to cramp your style? Reality is – it doesn’t matter, the choices are arbitrary, there are seemingly very few consequences and no need to antagonise over a strategy. The very simplest of decisions will yield you economic success. The cash is going to pile up whatever you do – if only real life was so simple.
Missions are extremely linear, the maps and their contents limited. Once you’ve seen one warehouse, you’ve seen them all. I find myself pretty bored after a few hours – despite progressing through multiple stages of the campaign, I feel like I’m doing the same thing, over and over, and over and over. A lack of diversity is going to obliterate the replayability of this game. I venture into the sandbox mode and find that there doesn’t even seem to be an opponent – the businesses are passive and barely seem to fight back no matter how much I violate them and without a goal the play feels even more small and boxed in – the last thing you want in a sandbox mode.
The other half of the hybrid is the turn based strategy and this certainly isn’t bad. Some situations are interesting and require some tactical thinking but the sad reality is that those of us who love the turn based tactical combat genre are likely to have been spoiled by XCOM. Omerta simply can’t compare. That being said it is a solid attempt, offering cover, a variety of different attacks based on the team you’ve selected to fight, different weaponry, opponents and damage affects. The tactical combat is definitely the strongest part of the game.
here are very few rewards for success or punishment for failure; decisions don’t feel as though they actually matter. Even the combat can be passive, if damaged, you can find something to hide behind and wait out your wounds.
I love the setting and the potential – this is a fantastic era of time that should be filled with entertainment, humour, violence and complexity; but the game fails to capture any of that. I look to this genre for a challenge and that isn’t something you’re going to find here either, unless you happen to have consumed a bottle of whisky first in true-prohibition spirit. Even then, I think you’ll be fine. It has a cool concept with a lot of potential – the bare basics are here but the only way I managed to have fun after the first few hours of playtime was imagining my henchman as the cast of Boardwalk Empire.
It is a good looking game, it runs well, performance seems solid and you get to kill the grandmaster of the Ku Klux Klan, which is an opportunity I always relish. It has a unique concept and a setting with a lot of potential but the package just hasn’t been put together around the essential core – the depth of gameplay, which trumps all the other trimmings.
The game feels like it should be something available in a browser, on facebook or perhaps on iOS. Farmville, prohibition style (Gangsterville – I bet that’s copyrighted). I could see myself playing this on a touchscreen whilst travelling. I could see myself paying £5 for it and feeling like it was good value – the problem is, it’s retailing at £29.99 on steam. However, don’t take my word for it – there is a free demo available from Kalypso Media. I’m sure that there is an audience for this game and there will be fans; if you enjoy the demo you will find it a good purchase for you.