The ideas behind the ‘Made Man’ concept has always been somewhat of an interest. This is likely due to the fact that most developed nations’ history is knee-deep in organized crime. Movies like the Godfather and Casino are known as some of the best ever, while TV shows and games have tried to also capitalize on this popularity. Kalypso threw their hat into the ring with the release of Omerta: City of Gangsters, a mafia-sim/SRPG that tells the story of a Prohibition Era made-man. The folks at Kalypso made us an offer that we couldn’t refuse (as in the sent us the game to review) and we jumped into it, honestly not knowing what to expect.
Omerta more or less means ‘unspoken law’, the rules of the underworld and the main theme of Omerta: City of Gangsters. Your character, whom you pick the face and name for, starts out as a small time crook with a few friends and evolves into the traditional Don role. Something that I liked about this was that even at higher levels, he still isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The story is actually fairly decent in that sense and is told through old photo-style cutscenes. A quick gripe about this concept, the music drowned out a lot of the dialogue, even when I turned it down I still had issues. It’s also the typical mafioso story, so in that sense it isn’t very creative.
When considering Omerta’s presentation, a lot is offered to the player. The soundtrack offers a distinct Roaring Twenties feel (when not glitching up and playing broken, choppy music) and sets the mood well. Graphically, the game is decent. There isn’t any ‘Wow!’ moments, yet there really aren’t any ‘Well, this looks like shit’ moments either. Effects are decent and not too graphic or over the top. If anything, the game is played graphically safe, with no risk to make a mistake here.
The main part of the game is pretty much a crime sim, where you send out your mobsters to extort, rob, attack, strong-arm, offer protection or conduct unsavory business with the city. Early in the game, when you are just a small time criminal, this is pretty straight forward. As you become more infamous these tasks become more interesting, but saying that they are more difficult is a bit of a stretch. The secondary aspect of Omerta is an SRPG in the same vein as games like X-COM and Jagged Alliance. Each mobster is controlled individually and can move and perform a set amount of actions within a turn. This combat system involves quite a bit of strategy and is actually really fun, especially once you get gangsters with different weapon specialities. Taking a few guys and comboing for maximum damage is nice and brings an aspect that isn’t seen in many games.
Omerta offers a few different game modes that range from sandbox-play, allowing you to do whatever you’d like in Atlantic City. There is also multiplayer, which was ok at best. The big thing here is that you really are doing the same thing over and over, regardless of the game mode you play. This becomes an issue when you actually begin to realize how bland the gameplay is, which happened for be after getting a ways into the main story mode. There really isn’t a reprieve and the sandbox mode becomes equally tiresome.
That is the thing with Omerta: City of Gangsters, there is an absolutely promising game under all the dead weight. Unfortunately, after removing all of it, the nice parts just aren’t complete enough to warrant a great score either. There are a fair amount of glitches I encountered, like mobsters never completing their task at a location, and small glitches in things like music got really old far too quick. I couldn’t play Omerta over long periods of time, as I couldn’t find enough combat to keep me entertained and the business management aspects were pretty simplistic. Even with all this said, Omerta isn’t bad and I am sure that people interested in the Gangster genre will find some sort of enjoyment out of it.
Omerta plays and feels like a downloadable title, something you’d pick up for $25-$30 on Steam or Xbox Live. At that price range, it would be a fair pickup, as there is enough game to be a pleasurable experience. Unfortunately, the Xbox 360 version is launching at a $40 price tag, which just seems like too steep of a price for a game that lacks any real gimmicks to keep a player coming back. Maybe there will be some DLC, maybe they can patch a few issues. I hope they do because I didn’t hate Omerta, I liked it, just not enough to tell someone to buy it.
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- The combat is fun albeit short in most scenarios
- RPG elements are enjoyable
- Bugs with music and gameplay get old quick
- Sim mode lacks any form of excitement
- This shouldn’t have been released in this format, it could have been a great XBLA/Online title.