Welcome to 1920’s prohibition Atlantic City. To survive here as a gangster you need build an empire from nothing but $20 in your pocket. Omerta follows the story of a Sicilian immigrant trying to make it big in America. My life as a gangster starts out easy. Purchase a couple of properties and make some money by running various small time illicit activities. To obtain money you must build businesses, sell your goods on the black market, or you can always just rob another business. When my gangster wasn’t selling his goods, he was hard at work killing his rivals.
The game truly shines when engaged in combat. Your character and his henchmen can obtain a variety of weapons, obtainable through a different ways. All weapons have their advantages and drawbacks. For example, a tommy gun has great damage, but can also easily hit your own men. The game is played in the style of a turn based strategy game, such as X-COM and Commandos. Omerta is incredibly well developed when it comes to the turn based combat. It is fun, challenging, and offers various maps to battle it out on. Unlike X-COM, Omerta offers maps that actually feel different from mission to mission.
The over the top characters in Omerta truly set it apart from most other turn based titles and made the game ten times better. Whether it be a gangster named Wolf with his sleek voice and snarky comments or a Bulgarian immigrant with a boxing title. The characters in Omerta connect with the player and I often had a hard time firing one of my henchmen for another better henchmen. Omerta delivers a true 1920’s feel with its colorful soundtrack which includes a variety of different musical genres popular during the 1920’s. From the relaxing jazz to the uppity beat of ragtime, Omerta never strays away from that 1920’s prohibition feel.
Omerta falls almost flat on its face when it comes to city management. I would expect a bit more depth from the creators of the Tropico series. The game offers almost zero customization options, a limit of two upgrades per building, and buildings that stay exactly the same when you upgrade them from a joint or premise. Tycoon and city sim fans will be deeply disappointed if they are looking for a pure city simulation experience.
The sandbox mode fails to impress as well. The sandbox mode which is included, lets you build up a certain block in the city. Not any new blocks, but the ones you already encountered in the main game. You start out with an absurd amount of cash in sandbox mode. Once you have upgraded your house and purchased all the buildings, there is absolutely nothing do to. You can’t cause havoc, upgrade buildings any further than two upgrades, or customize any aspect of the game. You watch the completed city and look at how much money you are collecting.
The overall lack of detail in the city is noticeable as soon as you start the game for the first time. Cars pop in and out of nowhere, civilians are halfway through certain buildings, and buildings never change when opening up various businesses. A bit more detail in the city view and the fixing of certain minor glitches would have been appreciated. Luckily there were no major bugs in the game that ruined the overall experience.
While Omerta: City of Gangsters is far from being as deep or difficult as many other turn based strategy games, the game is well worth the buy. The AI is solid and the combat is surprisingly addictive. When one overcomes the tacky graphics and starts to enjoy the game for what it is, expect hours of fun. The game is also an excellent way to get into many other complex turn based strategy games and offers a surprisingly fun game to veterans of the genre as well.