Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Omerta – City of Gangsters

Launching this week is Kalypso Media’s Omerta – City of Gangsters, a strategy videogame for Xbox 360 and PC. Seemingly riding on the tails of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Omerta – City of Gangsters does things considerably differently: this is an interactive videogame experience in the […]
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Rating: 4.8/5 (6 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageLaunching this week is Kalypso Media’s Omerta – City of Gangsters, a strategy videogame for Xbox 360 and PC. Seemingly riding on the tails of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Omerta – City of Gangsters does things considerably differently: this is an interactive videogame experience in the same genre, but developer Haemimont Games has delivered the strategy Sonic to Firaxis Games’ Mario.

Indubitably cool from the offset, Omerta – City of Gangsters casts the player a one of two Sicilian brothers fresh from the boat in 1920’s United   States of America. Quickly embroiled in the seedy underbelly of Atlantic City, you decide it’s about time you made your mark on this new, unsuspecting land by way of working your way up the criminal hierarchy. Your brotherElectronic Theatre Image on the other hand, decides that he doesn’t want to be a part of your decision to chase ill-gotten glory, instead opting to become the face of the law; and thusly, your enemy.

However, before you start throwing your weight around you have to ensure your footing. There’s no point in taking out your gun when the enemy has fifteen more goons in waiting behind him. Instead, take a little time to play it safe. Listen to the few gang members you currently have and learn the basics about gathering information and committing some small crimes, hiring some gangsters and getting them to do the dirty work for you. After all, you’re not here to be small time forever; you’re on the up-and-up, and so it only makes sense that your reputations spreads quicker than your firearms can be drawn.

The management part of Omerta – City of Gangsters is a simple case of not losing your head; bargaining for assets and not biting off more than you can chew as you take control of local businesses and shakedown illegal drinking establishmentsElectronic Theatre Image for their high value goods. When you do get into combat the comparisons to XCOM: Enemy Unknown become more obvious, and justified.

Players select a small force to take into battle from all of their available gangsters (including themselves). This group is them placed into a localised environment for the combat to play-out in a turn-based fashion. Each gangster has a specific amount of movement and action points with which to execute their chosen strategy, forcing them to use cover as the move across the field unless they have a special ability that allows them to get up-close and personal quickly, or the player is happy to sacrifice one gangster as a decoy in favour of outwitting the enemy (a tactic that worked in Electronic Theatre’s favour on more than one occasion). However, being cautious is the most advisable tactic as any significant damage sustained will be long-lasting. While characters don’t die as XCOM: Enemy Unknown, they will suffer permanent injury. And given that your human Electronic Theatre Imageresources are far more limited that in Firaxis Games’ science-fiction strategy opera, you’ll want to ensure that every man is fit for the job at hand.

Of course, this works two ways. Victories can often mean new perks for your gangsters that will aid with combat significantly. And this benefits both your single-player campaign and the multiplayer gameplay. Available in both co-operative and competitive modes, Omerta – City of Gangsters’ multiplayer gameplay sees you pick a squad of goons from those you have available to put against the enemy. You may say that this can leave you severely outgunned and under equipped, and in many cases this can be true, but the expenditure limit (dressed up as financial allowance for wages) does help to even the balance for experienced players somewhat. The more disappointing aspect of the action-orientated multiplayer gameplay is the lackElectronic Theatre Image of a local option; there is nothing that needs to be kept secret, so why a second player isn’t able to import their own save data to play alongside a friend on a single-system is not known.

From a technical standpoint Omerta – City of Gangsters doesn’t break any new ground but it does have a charm all of its own. From the ability to swoop down to the city streets and se your gangsters marching across town to take care of business to the many characters you’ll meet expressed only by way of a single portrait and a voice actor, Omerta – City of Gangsters is every bit the 1920s portrayal that videogames should aspire to. Also worthy of note is the score: the soundtrack is a fantastic accompaniment to the action, truly standingElectronic Theatre Image firm somewhere between the popular music of the era and Hollywood’s modern interpretation of it.

Some might suggest that it’s a shame that Kalypso Media waited until after the arrival of the critically acclaimed XCOM: Enemy Unknown to offer gamers the chance to experience Omerta – City of Gangsters, worried that it may forever be condemned to live in the shadow of a better known name. However, an equally perceptive observation would suggest that the publisher’s decision was one of shrewd market awareness, now capitalising on the thirst for console strategy that XCOM: Enemy Unknown has created. Electronic Theatre is most certainly siding with the later, as Omerta – City of Gangsters is every bit the strategy experience that genre fans will be hoping for.

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