by Marjolein Verheij
previewed on PC
The word ‘Omerta’ in Omerta: City of Gangsters means a rule or code that prohibits speaking or divulging information about the activities of a criminal organization. What better name for a game about building a mafia empire?
Set in 1920’s Atlantic City, you play an immigrant fresh from the boat. Leaving your brother and only living relative back home, you set sail to America to make a new life for yourself. Luck is not on your side and the moment you step onto Terra Firma, you get robbed. Penniless in a city filled with crime, the only work you can find are small illegal jobs. Still dreaming of a better life, you decide to become your own boss by slowly climbing up the gangster hierarchy.
First, you get to create your in-game avatar, “The Boss”, by picking a number of traits that determine your personality and affect your style of play. As you progress through the game and gain respect among your peers other gangsters will join you. These are preset characters that have unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses that make them fit for various roles in the game. They can act as enforcer or mastermind and excel in areas such as muscles, finesse, toughness, guts and cunning. Gangsters with the right set of skills will get better results when sent on raids, drive by’s or assassinations. Many missions, like taking over a rival gang’s business or springing a fellow gangster from prison will benefit from a mixture of skills. To keep track of who is doing what, pictures of your henchmen are shown on the screen, along with information about their availability or status of their current task.
Dirty cash I want it
Some of your actions will inspire fear among the inhabitants of the city. This can be useful as scared people are more likely to obey you, but not everyone responds well to a threat. Doing something that is perceived to be positive by the community, like opening respectable businesses for example, will improve your reputation.
Clicking on an owned business reveals useful information like its efficiency and supply. If a business is owned by someone else, you will see your standing with its owner. It is possible to improve the relationship by getting in bed with them. Offering a rival speakeasy a good deal on alcohol from your distillery will benefit everyone. Befriending cops can be useful too: everyone has a price and calling in a police favor when things get hairy can be invaluable to your cause. For one thing, criminal actions attract the attention of the guys in blue and once the attention meter reaches 5 stars, things can get very difficult. Having a cop friend pull some strings for you to make the evidence disappear means money spent bribing him well worth it.
Money is earned in a variety of ways. Your business will fork over their profits, warehouse raids give you something to sell on the black market and a good bank heist means instant cash. Some of your income will be ‘clean’ but most of it will be dirty. You can fund the better part of your operation with the dirty stuff but some things require untainted cash. You can use your establishments to launder some of your dirty cash and occasionally receive offers to have someone else do the cleaning for you, at a price.