Omerta means code of silence, and that’s something that everyone should keep in mind here in Atlantic City where bottles get crushed and fools get poked. In Omerta: City of Gangsters players run through Absecon Beach, Illinois Ave, Maine Ave, Virginia Ave, North Carolina Ave, or Downtown Atlantic City. Choose your character from a series of mob personalities that would probably be called wise guys in their time. Select their stats based on their nickname around the hood growing up, whether it’s something like “Earful, Berries, or Hood”, and proceed. Answer a series of questionnaires that will define you as a person and then select how much gang violence you would like to be taking place around you (and towards you), then finally gameplay begins.
A top down view of the area you hope to one day control appears. Players can hire and fire a setting-appropriate cast of characters including Ma’ Evans, Big Man, Wolf, Dandy, Happy, Fishman, Squigs, Loony, and more. Ah, who could forget good old Squigs, a true right hand man. He would gut a man for me at just $15 a day and I wouldn’t hesitate to fire him if he told an unfunny joke. Quickly it becomes obvious that this title is more about strategy than actual mafia life. What a funny way to approach an economic simulator I thought to myself. Well, okay. I’ve enjoyed some of those in my day and actually think it’s a pretty cool way to present one. So is it actually any good?
After amassing a full crew, upgrading my hideout and extorting a few local spots I came to realize that Omerta isn’t completely terrible. Members of your crew can be zoomed in on and observed making their daily rounds as dirty money and clean money are both earned (and kept separately of course), daily salaries to your thugs are paid out, liquor is acquired, and the business expands.
Players start out with their main man as a Level 1 Mastermind while other characters in their gang are somewhat expendable and have their own purpose such as Enforcing, Burglary, helping with Mastermind duties, Grifting, and more. Each character gets their own stats, equipment, perks, and talents which are advanced as things continue. Not only do players focus on getting them to accomplish earning for the great good of the mob they control, but they also have to think about the well-being of each individual by tracking any persistent wounds. After all, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.
Deals can be made with other gangsters who got what you want, or want what you need to get rid of. Money talks and, well you know what walks already don’t you. After all, it’s 2014 but after a few hours of sensual jazz pumped into your ear Omerta: City of Gangster’s soundtrack has you feeling alright with a trip down memory lane (that is memories from your past life). Some of these deals come with a catch of course, it’s not all fun and games in the life of crime. You can pay to increase your reputation in the streets, pay for guns, and even pay later for money given to you now. But when deals go sour, that’s when things really get interesting.
Crooked Deals offer players a way to test the mettle of their gang’s members by pitting them in sticky situations where shots fire and not everyone gets to go home unharmed. Maybe things will be easier when we’re all microchipped and vaccinated by those micro-machines in The Matrix films, but back in the dirty days of booze and fedoras, hot lead answered the questions of justice.
A strategic economic simulation turns into a turn-based shootout when deals go crooked and it really feels awesome to take part in it. Send out some of your men and control their every action from using a first aid if wounded to which types of shots to fire at their enemies. That being said, the weapons of Omerta range from baseball bats to samurai swords, rifles, pistols, tommy guns, and more. Players have to get a grip on what each character’s role is in the fight and respond accordingly while moving from cover to cover, or risk having their salary-earning hustlers become victims to the ginsu. After seeing war in the street crew members level up and can gain bonuses that are tailored to their particular skill-set (or however you please if that’s not the case).
As the game advances further from early beginnings to more complex mafia management, jobs and killing becomes routine. Heists, shoot-outs, dirty cops, and drunk damsels trying to get out of paying for their booze become commonplace. Jazz is replaced by Swing and some great things begin to happen. The local area you run is transformed and citizens feel happier for having you around, at least they better be – why I oughtta… Keeping track of how much is coming in, how much is going out, how much is clean, and how much is dirty are always challenges but can become normal to the brain of an economic strategist. When all else fails, let your enemies know its time to get hit, get shot, and get sliced. Everyone’s a haggler though, and even regular customers try to pull a fast one on you. Respect is just a fickle thing I guess.
Players establish more and more of a Mafia presence in their area by establishing Breweries, additional Safe Houses, Hidden Storage locations, Smuggler spots, Boxing Arenas, Private Investigation rings, Soup Kitchens, Distilleries, Accountant firms, Counterfeiters, Wholesale warehouses, Labor Unions, and all while keeping enemy gangs at bay. Once vehicles and guns are plentiful though a few drive-bys are definitely in order for assisting in this task. Goons can also be hired for stand up security keeping your each of your joints clear of issues. An informant can be sent around town to hear about even more opportunities you haven’t gotten to yet. Sometimes when the heat gets too heavy, Investigators snoop around and need to be bribed or otherwise dealt with. There are often multiple ways to deal with a situation, whether its getting information from the neighborhood gossip corner or murdering the competition. Shots ring out in the middle of the night and nobody seems to care or question why. That’s life in the fast lane.
I’ll take Omerta: City of Gangsters over SimCity any day. Taking things into your own hands when deals go crooked feels great, and there’s so much to do in a corrupt and fun city full of violence and economic potential that it’s hard to stop playing once you start. A few ways the game could be improved include a better looking and slightly more intuitive user interface (though what is presented is not too bad), as well as a more exciting and reasonable introductory experience to the game. The campaign is dull and players will likely favor simply playing through their own way instead of the arbitrary goals that are handed down. It sure would be nice if the Multiplayer had managed to keep its player base too. But there’s not too much to complain about overall though, since Sandbox mode is awesome, and we highly recommend this simulation title to everyone in the gaming community.
Overall Score: 8 / 10
RGN Rating: Silver Game
Developer: Haemimont Games
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Available On: PC | Mac OS X
Played On: Windows PC
Review Copy Info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this Review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jon Ireson on 20140727 and was last modified on 20140727 .