Dames, speakeasy's, tommy guns and the Cosa Nostra. These key words form certain ideas. Images of gangsters in waistcoats and well cut suits, family honour, thin moustaches and wise-guys all within a period somewhere between 1920 and 1960. What else is to be expected from an organisation that has been romanticised and vilified in pop-culture for over half a decade. The Mafia is a sexy topic, betrayal, revenge and honour with defined style and class. Many games have attempted to emulate this distinct ideal of life within the family, and “Omerta – City of Gangsters” is no exception.
The demo allows some rudimentary empire building set in 1920's Atlantic City. Upon beginning a new game I was greeted with a simple character creator where I answered some questions about my characters past and motivations. The answers clearly showed how each different reply would effect the characters stats. All that the numbers told me however was how they related to combat, not if they effected the how my empire would grow or if they would effect trading and land acquisition. I went for a thinly moustached man in a suit named “Don Wilimino” who expertise lied in his cunning and intelligence, but couldn't stand up to much punishment.
No Boardwalk Empire DLC announced yet
Poor Wilimino is then flung head first into a neighbourhood of Atlantic City near the famous board-walk. It picks up as prohibition starts taking effect and an elderly gentleman starts lecturing me on how to make a criminal empire step by step, from raids to drive-bys. I was also told to recruit my first of many future hence-men, a young gentleman named “squib”. It was sadly at this point one of the games flaws smacked me in the side of the head, the accents are pretty rubbish, perhaps a little entertaining, but Squib's whiny wannabe wise-guy tones became grating not long after he told me how to trade alcohol for cash. The music fares a little better, but repeats too quickly. The same tune seems to appear every few minutes, making the background music become near torturous after prolonged exposure.
The interface is simple enough. Very few buttons and icons clutter up the screen and what everything does is fairly obvious, this however is not due to a well executed UI, but rather simple mechanics that require very little information. Money is made by making poor Wilimino go raid competing breweries or buying property to create my own illegal commodities. These are then traded either to sites on the current map or with what the game calls “missions”, which are fundamentally just “give me X amount of Y product”. I was told selling via missions garners more cash and other rewards, but one look across the street to the building opposite my home base had the local speakeasy offering $100 more for 10 less of my product in block filled with so many breweries even the most die-hard alcoholic would think it is a touch too far. It is a simple economy, hire gangsters to do jobs, make commodities, sell commodities, continue making money with advanced buildings without annoying the police.
It is remarkable how calm they all seem
Shortly after learning the basics of trade Squib was kidnapped by some local gangsters and I experienced my first touch of battle. Tommy guns firing into barrels of liquor, men in intimidating jackets and fedoras sprung to mind. X-com however would be far more appropriate comparison. Moving with an allowed radius then firing a few shots from behind cover. Each character in the area takes a turn based upon their stats, each generally with their own weapon, and knock each other about until someone falls down dead. There is good amount of variety in weapons and their unique effects. Shotguns shoot in a cone that does great damage but can easily be obstructed or hit allies, revolvers allow for reaction shots but are inaccurate over medium distance. Some guys come in hand to hand that can cause havoc on a team of gunslingers as inaccurate pot-shots will take down their own side. Death also is not the end. Any character that isn't out on a job can come along in your squad, each with their own perks and ability set. If one is downed they don't die, but instead it gives them a permanent injury that lessens their effectiveness. It is an interesting idea but in a longer game it could make encounters impossible if you have one bad game and every member of your racket has severely reduced health.
Atlantic City is pleasant to look at, but it isn't exactly sparkling. The city is comprised of repeated buildings and a surprisingly small population of citizens. The only way a buildings role is deduced is by using resources at bars to find places of interest, which are marked with a symbol flying over the building that looks the same as every other building around it. I know breweries had to be kept secret, but some distinguishing features would be appreciated. It does the job, but it is heavily repeated. Perhaps as the game progresses later levels will offer more variety.
Who builds a lighthouse in the middle of the neighbourhood?
The game at this point seems very simple. Within the first two levels the game seems the basics of bypassing prohibition law is set, but very little repercussions. I have raided my way up and down the board-walk, but the only penalization so far has been some vaguely annoyed looking houses that tell me relationships are “cold”. Perhaps as the game continues the choice between being a ruthless ganglord or respectable don will pay off in some way, but in the first two levels it is too hard to tell and unwanted police interest can be paid to go away easily. There is the inkling of a good game with interesting ideas, but it is hidden behind some annoying features and bland graphics. Hopefully the full release will develop on these basics to become much more in depth.
Have you played the demo? Were you sold like cheap hooch or did you go sour like bathtub fermented wine?Last modified on