Kalypso Media’s Omerta – City of Gangsters is a rare treat not only for console gamers, but for the industry in general. It’s a videogame that isn’t afraid to be different; looking at the past for inspiration whilst staying true to the modern demands of technical capability, delivery and duration. This is a videogame that should be valued not just for the deep and engrossing strategy gameplay, but also for the passion that when into its development.
Omerta – City of Gangsters is a strategy videogame that sees you building an empire in the criminal underworld of 1920s Atlantic City through a carefully balanced mixture of management simulation and turn-based combat. When beginning the campaign you create your character by answering a few simply questions that affect your statistics in several categories, such as Muscle, Finesse and Smarts. You can see the boost that will be offered before choosing your answer to each question, and so fresh starts will see you push your character closer towards the way you choose to play the videogame. These statistics affect many areas of the videogame, from the speed and success rate of certain actions to the likelihood that you overthrow another gang leader in one of real-time fights, so your chances of success do weigh on these numbers more than it might seem at times.
Players can partake in activities such as burglary, buying and selling of illegal goods and smuggling. Each gangster (and yourself) can only be sent on one job at a time, and as such it’s imperative that you asses each opportunity and maximise the productivity of your gang. In addition to the optional jobs players can choose to partake in there’s a whole host of structured occurrences which help to progress the storyline. Ranging from having your gangsters kidnapped to going head-to-head with a rival gang, each new occurrence is a mark that you have accomplished something; a reward for your efforts that, if attended to properly, will in itself be further rewarding.
Certain jobs require the player to engage in combat with the enemy directly (though these instances can be automated if the player prefers, though the outcome is invariably worse than it would be at the hands of a skilled player). The similarities to XCOM: Enemy Unknown are obvious, but that in itself is surely enough reason for any strategy fan to sit up and pay attention. Firaxis Games made a fantastic, addictive strategy experience wrapped up in an overly clichéd science-fiction dressing; Haemimont Games deliver a slightly weaker combat scenario but a far greater dressing. You could call it a trade-off, Metro Gamingconsiders to reason enough to invest in both titles.
Players can train their gangsters to specialise in specific areas, such as long range or melee combat, or even to act as a support character. However, the character progression system – though rewarding in its own right – is simply not as deep or well planned-out as that in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Given Omerta – City of Gangsters’ use of points for actions, turn timeline and cover system, many of the tactics that players will have developed late last year remain relevant here, both in the single-player gameplay modes and online.
Online gameplay is limited to just the combat element, with players creating their own teams from the characters they have unlocked in the single-player modes. Players take their team into battle against a single foe in head-to-head combat, or work together with a friend against an AI opponent. It’s a simple addition that is a welcome part of the package, but isn’t likely to draw your attention from the open-ended single-player modes for too long, especially as there’s no offline option.
Launching on both Xbox 360 and PC, Omerta – City of Gangsters is a welcome addition to the strategy genre on both formats. It follows closely behind XCOM: Enemy Unknown, working in both its favour and to its detriment. Omerta – City of Gangsters seems destined to become one of the underrated gems of 2013, and at this point Metro Gaming whole heartedly recommends you don’t become one of those who misses out on another opportunity to rejuvenate publisher’s faith in the console strategy gaming audience.