by Matt Porter, reviewed on
The Front for Kalypso’s Gangsters
I had been invited to a detective agency in London which is actually just a front for Kalypso Media, primed to show off its new game Omerta: City of Gangsters. It is half empire management and half turn-based combat, but it is 100% gangster. Not that new type of gangster either, as Omerta is set in 1920s Atlantic City at the height of prohibition. The stern looking man in the tiny office asked me for my name and the secret password. Then I was allowed through the hidden door in the bookcase and into a dimly lit bar and restaurant. It was here that I was handed a virgin cocktail and given a thirty minute gameplay demo by the developers. After that, I was shown to laptops and were allowed plenty of hands on time with the game. Two and a half hours later I still wanted more, but for that I will have to wait for February 5th next year, when the game ships.
At the start of the main story, you name your character and pick one of the suitably gangster looking portraits for him. You are then asked several questions about your past which will determine your character’s traits such as intelligence and how toughness. You are the older of two brothers, and you have moved to America to make some money and escape your home and your past, promising to earn enough to bring your younger brother over soon. Seeing money in illegal alcohol, you become a gangster. However, upon arrival, your brother joins the police force, creating conflict that the developers promise will reach an exciting conclusion upon completion of the game.
Part Empire Management, Part Turn-Based Combat
The story is split into missions which take place in Atlantic City. The game features twenty of these unique districts, featuring recognizable landmarks from the period. You control the action from a top down perspective. In these missions you are given objectives ranging from earning cash, to getting ‘liked’ in the area, to gathering lots of beer for a party. In the early missions I played, these objectives were part tutorial, showing me how to get money, hire gang members and set up businesses to get my empire up and running. Your gang members are important as the management section of Omerta happens in real time. If you send someone off to do a job such as set up a brewery or to perform a drive by on a rival speakeasy, you have to wait for them to go and do it. In fact if you zoom in to street level you will be able to see them running around town doing jobs for you. So, to be efficient, you will have to hire new members, each of which have different traits and attributes and their own unique backstory.
Sometimes sending one of your team off to do a particular job will trigger a combat event, which is where the turn based element of the game comes into play. People who have been playing a lot of XCOM recently like me will feel right at home here, as you will be moving your gang into cover and using special abilities to overcome your foes. You can take up to four members on combat missions with you, and having a range of different abilities is beneficial. For example, my main character had a shotgun, allowing him to hit more than one enemy at once. One of my lackeys was a specialist with dual wielding revolvers who has the special ability called “Dance for me” where he fires a volley of shots at the ground in an area, greatly reducing enemy morale.