by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Dance Dance Mafioso
Playing Omertaís expansion over the holidays, I can tell you that there is something profoundly odd listening to the background Christmas sounds of Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman singing Something Stupid while on an assassination mission for a local crime boss. If anything, the overly dramatic shaking caused by the machine gunís bullets slamming into the goonís body is wildly out of tune with the music. The man should learn to dance. Some pistol fire will do that trick quite nicely.
Omertaís original release was not without controversy. Some thought it was a city management game which it wasnít. Others measured it against the Hothouse Creationís classic Gangsters: Organized Crime which surely influenced Omerta but was never the same game. It is easy to see how some people got confused, or even disappointed, but I thoroughly loved it and its latest expansion only made it better.
Japanese Love Song
The Japanese Incentive adds a new, lengthy campaign that will take you as long to finish as the vanilla campaign. The title suggests that you will be controlling a Japanese gang but thatís not quite true. The bridge to the orient is that you will find yourself working for a Japanese crime lord who loves bossing you around, at least throughout the first half of the campaign. The Japanese influences do go a little bit deeper but not much deeper than adding a new weapon, the Katana, to the gameís repertoire. Melee players will love these, and enemy gangs seem to love them even more so even if you shy away from melee, chances are that you will be experiencing the effectiveness of the cold Katana steel regardless.
In my review of Omerta, I noted that the game showed great potential but pointed towards the lack of turf wars as being a major drawback. The Japanese Incentive fulfils the promise by doing just that. You can no longer grab territory on the campaign map unopposed. Instead, you will have to actively defend your buildings against enemy takeovers, investigate their actions and send out your own thugs to take possession of enemy holdings. It sounds a little more involved than it actually is though. In most cases, the game simply notifies you that you have lost a building or that your thug was successful taking one of theirs. Initially, the newly added pressure may feel a little overwhelming until you start utilizing new buildings such as the Security Agency or Lookout to counter the ever present threat. None of those buildings are 100% effective against it, but you will certainly feel less out of control.
Further adding to that, new mission types can be found throughout the campaign. Neutral goons and bosses pop up, offering favours in return for assistance, gangs from other parts of town can occasionally be enlisted to oppose the enemy gang in your neck of the woods and there is more opportunity for off-map trade. The expansion also brings a host of new locales to conquer and new stages for combat missions, adding variety and removing some of the repetitiveness that could set in during the later stages of the game.
Incentive to buy
In many ways, The Japanese Incentive makes Omerta feel like a more complete game. The turf war mechanic could certainly have been fleshed out a little more but it is easily the primary reason for picking up this expansion as it has a tremendous effect on how dynamic the strategic maps feel. The resident AI gangís relentlessly attempts to rain on your parade, keeping you on your toes at all times. Sure, mowing down thugs with a machine gun, cutting them to pieces with a Katana or setting them on fire with a flamethrower can be very satisfying as well but these new features pale in comparison to the feeling of having someone actively working against you. And the best thing is, you get to experience all that in a campaign that surpasses the original in terms of variety, depth and overall fun. Recommended.
AI gangs working against you, great new campaign
Old fashioned message system simply throws news at you, often disappearing before youíve noticed them.