Reviews by Immunity
A Rushed Gem That's Still Worth A Playthrough!Immunity | Feb. 25, 2013 | Review of Omerta: City of Gangsters
Omerta: City of Gangsters is brought to us by the same development team responsible for the recent additions to the Tropico franchise (both Tropico 3 and 4.) As such, you'll have a strong feeling of déjà vu for a good portion of the game if you've played either of their previous titles, at least when it comes to the management aspect. However, the developers took an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and introduce an X-COM like turn-based tactical combat system that makes up the other half of the game. So, do both these components work well together to deliver a satisfying experience? Yes, and no.
Gameplay (Campaign): Before the campaign starts, you'll create your main persona by selecting a portrait, and answering a half dozen questions which determine the make up of your character's stats. You're introduced into the game world via short, snazzy, still frame cut-scenes (which continue throughout the main story arch), after which the game proper begins. The management aspect of the game is a heavily simplified, yet still oddly satisfying, with enough building selections to warrant multiple approaches, especially during the later maps when you're given more freedom as to how to pursue your goals. You'll be responsible for setting up supply and product chains, have the opportunity to extort politicians, scam socialites, raid independent businesses, and heist the odd bank or two should you so choose. That said, most of these actions consist of you selecting a gangster, clicking a button, and waiting until either he returns informing of you success, or getting thrown into a turn-based combat map should complications arise. You'll be doing all of this while keeping an eye on your Liked/Fear rating, which influences the efficiency of most of your businesses, as well as the Heat meter, which will have to be dealt with should it reach its maximum. You'll also need to chose your gang wisely, with more slots opening up for you as you complete the campaign missions. Each gangster has their own unique personality, back story, and class. Classes yield certain bonuses (burglars receive 25% more loot during raids, for example), so diversifying, allocating leveled perks properly, and using each of your gang members where he is strongest is key to efficiency.
The turn-based combat portion of the game plays like a largely simplified X-COM, albeit with iconic Tommy Gun's instead of lasers. There's a heavy emphasis on using cover, though cover itself is not graded, other than being either destructible or not. There's no over-watch function, most likely to keep the combat itself moving forward rather than degenerating into a camp-fest (although the AI opponents are a bit on the suicidal side, admittedly.) You won't need to worry about reloading, but you will need to keep an eye on your team's health, as healing (and revive) abilities are exceedingly rare, with most being usable only once during the encounter. The maps are not randomly generated, and there's roughly 8-10 of them that get reused throughout the campaign. Every armory you raid will have the same layout, as will banks etc. The lack of content here is a shame, since the feeling you get as you cut down multiple coppers in a hail of bullets is second to none.
Visuals: The overhead campaign map view is gorgeous, and the engine seems to run extremely well on even decent systems. There's a great deal of attention to detail, ranging from the signs in shop windows, to advertisements on the side of buildings, to pedestrians crowding rain slicked streets with their umbrellas in tow. It's a shame then that most of the time you'll spend playing the game is zoomed out, having to settle for a bird's eye view to effectively manage all of your properties. The turn-based combat maps are a bit rougher in terms of looks (in part due to the boring settings they take place in), but the same attention to detail is present, with dead characters slumping against their cover, and casting larger than life shadows when indoors and illuminated.
Audio: The voice-work is top notch, with everyone from the main character to gang members, to the NPC's you encounter delivering dialog that brings life and uniqueness to their persona's. The music is also worthy of mention, fitting the time period perfectly. It may be a bit hectic for some, but fans of the era won't be disappointed in this regard.
Gameplay (Sandbox): With less than a half dozen non-randomized maps that you've already played through if you've beat the campaign, and no opposition to speak of save for random turn-based combat maps, the Sandbox mode of this game is largely a throw away feature and not worth mentioning.
Gameplay (Multiplayer): Much like the sandbox, at this point in time the multiplayer is not worth mentioning, as it consists of only 4 (2 co-op, 2 vs.) non-randomized maps. In its current state, it's more or less a throwaway feature tacked on so that they could list it as a bullet-point on the box.
Final Word: Despite the shortcomings of the game in terms of simplification, and the utterly insulting sandbox and multiplayer modes, Omerta is a game that ends up being more than the sum of its parts. The singleplayer campaign took me roughly 14 hours to complete on the hardest mode, though this will vary depending on how thorough you decide to be in seeking out the special weapons purchasable on certain maps and accomplishing secondary objectives. It may be simplified in most regards, and lacking in quite a few others, but the attention to detail along with high production values in this game elevate it in score above what it should rightfully receive. Also of note is the fact that the developers have, via the game's Kalypso based forum, promised to address the shortcomings of both the MP and Sandbox mode in roughly two months time (April'ish 2013) in an upcoming patch. Whether or not they follow through on that promise remains to be seen. All that having been said, if you're a fan of the classic gangsters era, and enjoy turn-based combat coupled with light business management, pick this gem up, capiche?!