Prohibition was one of the most violent times of the 20th century in the United States. Omerta: City of Gangsters drops you right in the middle of this disordered time period as you try to become one of the most feared criminals in Atlantic City. Along the way you’ll have to battle the KKK, deal with cops, and launder dirty money to keep your wealth. The result is a great strategy game with a decent turn based combat system that players can spend hours playing.
Right off the boat from Italy, you play as a fresh face in Atlantic City. At the beginning of the game the player gets to choose from one of six portraits that will be the face of your character. You also get to choose the back story your character had growing up, and that will effect different traits of the character. Let’s say when you were growing up you fought off some bad guys with a knife. The courage rating will go up, while firearms will go down. It is a neat way to have people create their own unique player, and to entice multiple playthroughs.
After choosing your back story and meeting up with a crime boss, you’re ready to begin your rise to the top of the criminal underworld. Each chapter of the game is broken up into different areas of Atlantic City, and you’ll have objectives to fulfill before you complete that chapter. Objectives range from investigating a building, to acquiring $4000 worth of dirty money, to breaking other gangsters out of jail. All the objectives are unique, but after a while it becomes noticeable that it is just different objectives using the same game mechanics.
Each area begins with your hide out, and a few buildings you have access to. In order to be able to interact with other buildings in the area, you have to investigate the various buildings by sending gangsters to informants. Once you have the information, you’ll see icons pop up above the buildings. These will tell you the type of businesses that occupy each building, along with what you are able to do with vacant buildings.
To make money in Omerta, you need to sell illegal goods. There are a few ways to acquire goods in Omerta. The easiest way to acquire goods is to raid independent businesses that are operating in your neighborhood. This triggers one of your gangsters to running to the business, walking inside, and returning with a set number of items. The other way to get your hands on illegal goods is to rent a premise, one of the two different types of buildings you can use, and establish a brewery, for example. Along with breweries, you can establish distilleries, a smuggler’s den, a warehouse, and many other services to help your business out.
After you have acquired goods, you need a way to sell them. You will rent out joints to sell things like beer, liquor, and firearms, and establish illegal businesses. You are able to open up speakeasies, boxing arenas, ponzi schemes, protection rackets, and a few others. You also have the ability to sell goods through the jobs menu. When you click on the jobs icon, you’re taken to a map that shows other criminals around Atlantic City looking for goods. Through this menu, you can buy or sell beer, liquor, or firearms. This little system between producing and selling goods in Omerta is definitely the best point of the game. Once you control most of the buildings in the area, money is easy to come by.
The currency in Omerta is split between dirty and clean money. You obtain dirty money from your illegal businesses, like speakeasies and boxing arenas. You obtain clean money through a few different avenues. The first is some businesses that you establish through joints which will work with clean money, or you can launder dirty money to turn into clean money. You are able to launder money through the jobs menu, or you can use politicians that have been paid off to change dirty money into clean money. The other way you obtain clean money is through businesses you build through the construction mechanic. In Omerta you are able to purchase construction sites to build new buildings on. You must use clean money to purchase construction sites, and you use clean money to build on that site. You are able to build hotels, casinos, night clubs, and other more legitimate businesses. This is also another great mechanic with Omerta. Dirty money is easy to come by, but to really expand your criminal network you need clean money.
Omerta features an interesting turn based combat system. You will encounter these combat missions through the story, or randomly when a gangster is raiding a business. Each character has a set number of movement and action points. When you move your character is costs movement points, and when you command a team member to perform an action, it cost action points. Along with your different attacks, there are traits that each character possess. These range from additional attack points, throwing a grenade, or healing gang members in battle. The system works well in the game, but it can be frustrating at times. There are those moments when your character has a 85% chance to hit an enemy, and misses. But that is normal with turn based combat systems. The combat missions do offer a break from the normal gameplay, which can be refreshing.
Compared to other strategy games, Omerta is a good looking game. Each area you enter is highly detailed and really captures that feel of the 1920′s. There are some neat effects at play, especially when it rains during the game. As with other games from the same developer, you’ll have to get used to hearing the same songs and sound effects played over and over again.
While I really enjoyed my time with Omerta, there are a few things that I thought could have been executed better. The first is that as you advance in the campaign mode, some of the missions start to feel monotonous. Another complaint is with the jobs mechanic. I wish it was possible to set up deals on your own instead of waiting for jobs to become available. In one section of the game I had a bunch of clean money that I wanted to change into dirty money, and I had to wait for other criminals to offer to launder money. Laundering clean money for dirty money is a great way to acquire large amounts of dirty money. It would be nice to put yourself on the market saying you have a certain amount of clean money you want to change into dirty money. There is a system called the fire sale. This is a way to quickly sell goods, especially when you are running out of storage room. But it would have been nice to expand it to other goods.
For strategy fans, Omerta is a must play. It is a very addicting game that has many elements going on at one time. The setting really draws you into the game, and adds a lot to the presentation. It is a game you can spend hours playing. Plus with a sandbox mode and online multiplayer, the $40 price tag is very minimal considering the amount of content you have access to.
Omerta: City of Gangsters was developed by Haemimont Games and published by Kalypso Media for Xbox 360, and PC on February 12th. A retail copy of the PC version was provided to us by Kalypso Media for reviewing purposes.