by Sergio Brinkhuis, reviewed on
Mention that you are into Mafia themed games and people will want to share their experiences playing Grand Theft Auto, Mafia and The Godfather. While these are all great games, they do reside firmly within the action segment of gaming and only one of them has some understanding of what being part of the Mafia is all about: control. Sure, there is violence, murder, crime and even competition between gangs in these games, but in the end, Mafia crime syndicates are about taking control, expanding their territory and activities and then defend their turf at all cost. In my opinion, only the strategy genre can accurately depict that core aspect of running a Mafia organization. Only a few attempts have been made to create a Mafia themed strategy game, making Omerta: City of Gangsters something of a rare, if not unique experience.
Set in Atlantic City during the 1920’s, Omerta puts you into the shoes of a young, Italian… entrepreneur. With the prohibition in full swing, you decide to try your hand at the illegal beer trade and slowly work your way up to become the ‘Capo di tutti capi’.
Slip into something more comfortable
If there is one word I would use to describe Omerta, it would be “different”. It is almost as if someone dropped a real time strategy game, a city builder, a turn-based tactical game and a role-playing game into a blender, pushed the button ever so slightly and then glued the pieces back together to form something new entirely. The madness of it all is that it works, and it works well.
I would not blame anyone for thinking “that’s simply too much for anyone to handle” but a capable tutorial provides a painless introduction to each of the game’s many facets. Soon after I was left to my own devices I felt completely at ease with Omerta’s controls, the gameplay concepts and its goals. I even had a fair idea of how to achieve them. The game’s campaign introduces minor new gameplay elements at regular intervals, mostly by offering new ways to achieve mission goals.
All in a day’s work
Atlantic City consists of 20 maps and each has a role to play in the overall campaign. At the start of a new chapter you get to pick which map to play on by choosing a mission. Missions have different rewards attached to them such as a level-up for your henchmen, special weapons or an increase in team size. Then the game zooms in on the streets on the map and drops you into what could be considered to be the primary melting pot of the game’s many aspects; the strategic level.
Here you rent and buy properties in which you can set up both legal and illegal businesses. Brewery’s and speakeasy’s are usually the financial heart of your operation but the game plays host to a variety of buildings that range from boxing rings to hotels and gambling houses. Depending on their legality, they provide you with resources, dirty cash, clean cash or a mixture of these. It is certainly possible to live off dirty cash alone, but to set up a legal business you will need the clean stuff. And while resources such as beer and liquor are vital in supplying your speakeasies and nightclubs with booze, they are just as often used as bargaining chips and mission goals. If - making - alcoholic beverages sounds a little too peaceful to you, you can, of course, also raid independent breweries or distilleries.
Your team will continue to grow to a maximum of five henchmen in addition to the gangster that you created as your in-game avatar. They will level-up during specific missions and, their fates somehow linked, they do so in tandem. I wasn’t too sure about this at first, but I found that it allowed me to better balance the different characters on my team when handing out perks to each individual member at the same time rather than the usual experience-based level-ups.
Great turn-based combat, good character development.
Atlantic City’s underworld does not fight back.