Over the past few days I have spent a good portion of my free time and plenty of time that I should have spent working playing Kalypso Media’s Omerta: City of Gangsters, a combination of strategy and turn-based combat that is, in some ways a throwback to games of yore.
You start out as a Sicilian immigrant, fresh off the boat with five dollars in his pocket. From there you embark on a journey of crime that will see you rise from a petty thief to, if I am not mistaken because I have not played the game all the way through yet (just most of the way through) the boss of bosses, Cappo di tutti capi. It sounds fun, the trailers look great, but exciting concepts often translate into less spectacular reality and that is precisely what happened here. Omerta: City of Gangsters just did not get to where it was supposed to go. Instead of Boardwalk Empire I got disappointment.
We used our 2013 reference gaming PC, the UberBeast for this game test. The specifications are listed below.
Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth Z77
Memory: 16GB of Adata 1866Ghz
Video: Gigabyte GTX680 Windforce
SSD: Crucial 128GB
Graphics and sound
The game hardly scratched the surface of system capabilities. Not only was I able to play the game at maximum settings, I was able to multitask to my heart’s content. It looked good, in spite of its low footprint, and the visuals were accompanied by an era-appropriate soundtrack. Had the developers gone the extra mile with the game itself, the graphical side of the equation could have helped it to be something special.
Strategy:A couple of missions into the game and you get a fairly broad sense of what awaits later on – a lot of the same. The game is divided out into levels; each level involves a different part of the city. You start with a little bit of money and wheel, bribe, deal, rob and steal your way into meeting the objectives. The problem is that there is not that much to it – as long as you don’t sell things for less than you buy them, you will get there – where’s the challenge? There is none. The plot is somewhat entertaining, but it uses stills instead of cut scenes and to a certain extent I think that kills any real sense of involvement. I felt like I was just going through the motions and it galled me to have to start from nothing each level.
Combat: The turn-based combat system worked fairly well, but that same repetitive element crept in and before too long, the holes appeared there as well. Where to start? Most of the maps were either similar or exactly the same – save for a random smattering of boxes and way too much time is spent moving around. Navigation in the buildings is nothing short of tedious at best it is bearable, at worst it is like watching paint dry. There really needs to be an automation option for the latter part of the combat missions.
What I like about it
This took me back to some of the games of my youth. Pretty much every big name game these days is a first person shooter or MMRPG, so it is nice to see something a little bit different. The short levels make things easier if you don’t have a whole lot of time.
What I hate about it
Where do I start? Mousing your way around the map is an unbelievably painful chore. It can’t zoom out far enough, scrolling takes forever and I found the map zooming in for no apparent reason more times than I could count. I could have forgiven some of the games other flaws if it weren’t for that.
Things got old too fast because there wasn’t enough going on in the game. As far as I am concerned, it has zero replay value because of this. Personally, I don’t think it is an issue that DLC could fix.
The weapon system was all screwed up. Pistols do less damage than shotguns or Tommy guns, but you get so many hits that it doesn’t make any difference. Shotguns get two shots, if you have two people in your blast range it will invariably hit one and miss one each time – and a baseball bat does more damage than a Tommy gun.
What other people are saying about it
Unless the developer adds some serious free DLC and content updates to make your choices more meaningful, you probably aren’t going to want to play it again.
If you’re really into mafia movies and other cosa nostra flavored dealings, you might get some pure novelty enjoyment out of it on a Steam sale, provided you can put up with the repetitive nature of the game. For everyone else, it’s probably best to “forgettaboutit”. [Destructoid]
The blend of management and tactical combat in a prohibition historical context was a nice promise. The atmosphere, the jazzy music, the deep gameplay elements, everything is theoretically there, except for one major thing: challenge. There is no tough choice, no difficulty in getting wealth and shaking the authorities, no trouble in the combat. Whatsoever. [Metacritic]
We never expected Omerta to be a classic but this is miserably poor stuff from beginning to end. It’s a failure as both a strategy game and a mobster game, and it deserves the full concrete overcoat treatment when it comes to sinking in the charts. [Metro.uk]
I tried to like this game, I really did. I hoped that it would become something more but it fell flat on so many levels. Its many foibles might be forgiven if it was a little cheaper but at $39.99 the price is too damn high. One out of five stars.
Price: $39.99 on Steam