Omerta: City of Gangsters Review

Omerta: City of Gangsters' mix of mob management and turn-based strategy fails to capture the dangerous excitement of its subject matter.

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Part management sim, part turn-based strategy game, Omerta: City of Gangsters attempts to offer the illicit thrill of building a nefarious empire from scratch. Sadly, some inexplicable design decisions and poor execution undermine its potential, while its glacial pace makes sleeping with the fishes sound like an extreme sport.

It all starts promisingly enough. Choosing an avatar from a handful of rakishly handsome rogues, you set about establishing the backstory for your character and thus determining his stats. Load points into your character's muscle statistic, and he can move farther and hit harder with melee weapons. Opt for higher smarts, and he acts more often during the turn-based combat, while an impressive guts stat makes him less likely to panic if his buddies start biting the dust. Unfortunately, all of the stats are tied to combat performance, and as you soon learn, combat is so dull that you actively avoid it where possible.

After creating the persona of your would-be crime lord, you're introduced to the management mechanics with which you take over Atlantic City, one block at a time. On the face of it, this element of Omerta has intriguing possibilities: you squeeze the locals for information, recruit new goons, set up establishments to generate dirty cash and clean money, and choose whether to run established business owners out of town or persuade them to operate under your auspices. Unfortunately, it sounds better on paper than it is in practice. Many of Omerta's failings in this area of the game come down to a lack of space and competition, a severely restricted set of goals, and most crucially, the disposable nature of each level.

It's this last fault that does the most damage to Omerta's coherence and leaves you feeling disconnected and dissatisfied. For every region of the city that you move into, you're charged with fulfilling a goal, such as clearing out an area for a local mob boss or setting up a gambling racket and laundering the resulting profits to earn a certain amount of clean money. These goals often require the acquisition of various types of premises, the investment of money, and a great deal of idle time as you wait for things to tick over.

There's a hint of freedom in the type of infrastructure you choose to invest in and the businesses you establish while in any given area. However, after achieving a level's goal, you're immediately moved to a new map, leaving behind your carefully tailored locale, never to return again. In this way, each level is played in isolation, and the illusion of building an empire is shattered because you're constantly starting from scratch. Over time, this results in a rush to the end in the most direct way possible. There's little reason to experiment with the various ways that the locals can be made to love or loathe you through your choice of approach. When everything is disposable, you simply stop caring.

Somewhere in the course of living out a mafioso's Groundhog Day, rebuilding the same joints and bribing the police after your illegal activities attract too much heat, you're going to have to get your hands dirty. Combat in Omerta: City of Gangsters is brimming with promise. You handpick a team of reprobates, each with his own perks, specialties, and predilection for either ranged or melee weapons, and send them into the XCOM-style arenas. Each goon has a number of movement points and action points you can spend each turn, and there's clearly marked cover to use, a transparent turn order to facilitate strategy, and a plethora of status effects to grasp and manipulate.

Incredibly, despite this potential (or perhaps because of it), Omerta's combat manages to disappoint on almost every level. For starters, the cover system makes very little sense. One side of an obstacle offers stat-altering cover, while the other doesn't. A pillar offers cover, whereas a whole wall does not. Melee combat causes more status effects, and often does more damage, than gunfire. Worst of all, whether you're roughing up the local small-time crooks, pulling a bank heist, or busting your associates out of the slammer, there's no real risk involved.

While your enemies die in a hail of bullets and a splatter of crimson, your own posse is immortal. Your teammates are only knocked unconscious and then revived at the end of combat with a minor, time-limited status effect. Unsurprisingly, where there's no risk, there's little sense of reward. This is further exacerbated by the fact that all of your characters level up at set points in the game, regardless of their individual performances in combat or whether they participated in combat at all. The most damning indictment of the combat is that it's more satisfying to auto-resolve combat than to engage, facing the enemy only when the flimsy story forces you to.

There are multiplayer and sandbox modes, but their limited scope makes them wholly disposable. While on the surface the sandbox mode appears to alleviate the problem of short levels, it fails to offer any real goals or competition for your efforts. This leaves you to amass a huge amount of money and then pay off the police that halfheartedly investigate your burgeoning criminal activities. Multiplayer is even sparser and does away with the management elements of the game entirely, leaving only the less-than-thrilling combat. With just four game modes (two co-op, two competitive) played over four maps, the level and character assets are interminably reused and recycled, and the limited number of goals quickly wears thin. On a positive note, the bouts move at a reasonable pace thanks to a well-pitched turn time for all players.

While many of Omerta: City of Gangsters' constituent parts are disappointing, there is some enjoyment to be had after you push through the sluggish first 10 hours of the game. Even then, the core principles remain frustratingly underdeveloped, but at least the later levels require the fulfillment of multipart goals. This has the effect of granting you more time to tend to your infrastructure and settle down into each level. Sadly, by that point in the game, its underlying disposable nature has drilled into you the futility of doing anything other than reaching the goal as quickly as possible and moving on to the next level.

In the opening voice-over of Omerta: City of Gangsters, your fresh-off-the-boat two-bit protagonist muses that "success is never about hard work." Unfortunately, Omerta feels like nothing but work, and dull, repetitive work at that. It's certainly not a success, but a soulless, bland, incoherent experience that frequently frustrates with its inability to capitalise on a handful of good ideas.

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The Good
Interesting premise
Colourful cast of characters
Jaunty musical score
The Bad
Slow-paced, restrictive, and dull
Bare-bones multiplayer and sandbox modes
Underdeveloped UI and insufficient feedback mechanics
Fails to deliver on its potential in any area
4
Poor
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Discussion

124 comments
TractorFry
TractorFry

Really disappointed by the bad review; I was looking forward to getting this one.

 How does it compare to the Tropico series?  

dalhaug
dalhaug

I liked this game, but i must agree with many that it was too slow paced and repetitive. The business aspect was too easy and that really ruined much of the game. The combat sequences were very basic compared to many other games, but i still had fun and i liked the characters and the missions. I will recommend this game to fans of this genre.

t0pheNutz
t0pheNutz

LOL I just saw a banner ad for this game that quoted PC Gamer calling Omerta "the X-COM of organized crime".  PC Gamer likely printed that, several months ago in some long forgotten preview of Omerta. Or it could have even been from the review, but actually said something like "This game tries to be the X-COM of organized crime, but falls way short. IDK, I haven't read their review...but its amazing how advertisers or anyone for that matter will quote things waaaaay out of context.

yusep01
yusep01

i have enjoyed very much playing this game. if somebody enjoy playing games of tactic battle by turns , this is your game. is truth that this game could be better but i have dedicated it more hours than others games with highter marks as DE3 or DMC3

07wintert
07wintert

would not recommend gets really boring and repetitive. not mention the slowness but this game tried to be like Xcom but it is no where near its level.    

Sib1987
Sib1987

I agree with some of the posters. I liked gangsters 1 and 2 better for a gangster RTS/management game. I hoped this would be a mix of the two, but they only took a very small part... No drive-by's, no police or other gangsters walking around, you cannot give your gangsters the assignment to kidnap someone you see walking on the street or just kill them and start a war... Ok now I am installing Gangsters 1 again, but damn they missed a chance!

kozzy1234
kozzy1234

The game is not horrible, I am actually very surprised to see it get a lower rating then the new Aliens game from Gearbox.


It definatly is not great or groundbreaking but if its on sale during a steam sale or amazon.com sale for xbox I would suggest picking it up. Far from perfect but not a 4/10 either imo. Id say its aaround a 6/10

DarpSyX
DarpSyX

spectations are high now... because XCOM enemy unknown was a success, and then people starts comparing, anywway, my point here is that this kind of games are really fun ! so hope developers don't trash the idea and start making more games of this genre. that's it good day to all of you 

DriftEJ20
DriftEJ20

Hit up the game gangsters from 199.. I'm just kidding, that's someone else's job. I must say this looks like one of those games that was given a reversely inflated low-score out of spite or disappointment (i.e. RE6). It seems like a mediocre game, not a game that makes you angry. I think anything under 5 should be a game that is either so buggy it's difficult to play or is incomplete or just horrible. 

fuzzier
fuzzier

15 years ago there was a game gangster 1 & 2 that has the same graphics and was made a lot better, this game is shit compared to that!

Marjk
Marjk

Is there a difference between "wholly disposable" and "disposable"? Sheez...start with someone that can write, and then work from there.

nomailx
nomailx

I don't get the reviews anymore. I already stated many times that the latest reviews of gamespot are out of synch with my generation. I guess they now review for the latest generation lacking imagination and expecting 10k features from a game. FYI, I uninstalled Dead Space 3 because it was too dull and repetitive, while I am still playing Omerta and enjoying it.

lopes71
lopes71

who give a crap about the review i played it i like it

JAIBOT
JAIBOT

Spewing reading most of these comments ;(
Was looking forward to this. Loved all the remade Jagged Alliance games and thought they might sort of follow in same path ;(

outlawst
outlawst

the fact is ,it's not that bad

tushwacker
tushwacker

The promise of "co-op" is what sucked me in.. but little did I know that by "co-op" they meant you and a friend could play 2 maps... not 2 game-modes, but 2 total maps.. and one of the two maps is broken (the game hangs up on an AI's turn and you are forced to quit the game). The co-op upgrade system could have been fun but they needed to include at least 5-10 functional maps with some variation between play-throughs (as it is, the exact same enemies spawn in the exact same places every time. The combat is actually enjoyable if you ask me. The AI is smart enough to typically take cover or try to flank you. The 'line of sight' and hit chances are usually fair/realistic (these types of games always have bad moments in this area, but it seems to be good most of the time). If XCOM would have just made co-op for their game, this wouldn't have had to happen...

blakeney
blakeney

I'm actually really enjoying playing this through! Granted I didn't pay £40 for it, and would proberly agree its more of a 10-£20 game, its not a 4.0 though, closer to 6+ imo.

Some of the "bad" points I've seen people pick up on, are the same points that made me think "Oh this game is actual realistic, NOT Hollywood "real".

For example... the fact that once a mission is over and you move on, your "empire" from the last district is all but forgotten. I'm not sure how many "gangsters" people here know, but I can tell you for a fact, that people that have many different pies (with their finger in) DONT manically "tend to" them all, and once set up, often they ARE left rolling.... the only thing they missed out to make this aspect totally real, is each of your "old" districts should generate a certain % of $ or $$ into your current account.

But all in all, I think this game IS worth a play through.

chicknfeet
chicknfeet moderator

I was also looking forward to this game. It saddens me that they didn't flesh the game out to its full potential. There was so much more it seems like it could have offered.

Mortz_88
Mortz_88

4/10 is a little harsh, I'm enjoying playing through the game, its got flaws but not so bad that its a poor game, 6/10 is more along the lines...can be fun but approach with caution

arganvain
arganvain

Look like an offer we can refuse.

PC-RUL3S
PC-RUL3S

Glad I decided not to buy this game.

666NightsInHell
666NightsInHell

i want strategy like this , not again brainless fps, sick of mafia's, gta's,pec ops shiiters etc

petez34
petez34

@fuzzier how many times are you going to write the SAME thing? Same thing? Same thing?

toast_burner
toast_burner

@nomailx 

Why do you think them not liking a bad game means they are catering to the new generation?  

warfiction
warfiction

why dead space3 look like s....? because dead space 2 set the bar too high

who never play dead 2 will play the 3 and say this game is nice...

i think that the 90 percent that dont like omerta because they expectation are too high. is not the worse game ever but is frustrating enough that i can´t  play it!

warfiction
warfiction

lol,  but could be a great game

blakeney
blakeney

@Mr_Scarecrow901 Id get down to the doctors dude!! :P

fuzzier
fuzzier

@blakeney Hit up the game gangsters from 1998, I promise, you will not be disappointed. You will even rethink your stupid statement and understand how bad this game is, and for its age, this game is 15 years behind.. I even need to edit this! its 20 years behind because gangsters and gangsters 2 is both better than this crap

fuzzier
fuzzier

@Mortz_88Hit up the game gangsters from 1998, I promise, you will not be disappointed. You will even rethink your stupid statement and understand how bad this game is, and for its age, this game is 15 years behind.. I even need to edit this! its 20 years behind because gangsters and gangsters 2 is both better than this crap

fuzzier
fuzzier

@666NightsInHellHit up the game gangsters from 1998, I promise, you will not be disappointed. And understand how bad this game is, and for its age, this game is 15 years behind.. I even need to edit this! its 20 years behind because gangsters and gangsters 2 is both better than this crap

CruiserCaptain
CruiserCaptain

@petez34 @fuzzier 

wow you're not kidding petez34.... how many time indeed. 

blakeney
blakeney

@fuzzier Yea I was 14 when Gangsters one came out, I played the shit out of it, and casualy played number 2... they are good games too... but this is out now lol.. im not some kid that feels the need for nothing but "the best" all day everyday.

Everything I put was opinion, hence my stringing together of words such as "I think"...

The big bit in the middle is subjective though, if you think that was a stupid statement on the basis Gangsters one and/or 2 was or is better then this game... then, well I don't know what to say.... go complain at your mum for not cutting your sandwiches EXACTLY how you like them??(and she fucking knows how you like them cut too!!)

JAIBOT
JAIBOT

@fuzzier 
"Stupid statement" Who the fuck do you think you are?
People can have their own ideas and thoughts and i thank him for sharing them. Who cares what game you think is better? No one but you!

Mortz_88
Mortz_88

@fuzzier Who the fuck do you think you are, I don't give a shit about that game, I'm talking about Omerta

warfiction
warfiction

the problem in this time...   my mother forgot to put the bread! catchup  is not that good alone 

fuzzier
fuzzier

@JAIBOT @fuzzier God, I just want people to play a decent game that features the stuff they made everyone expect for this game.

warfiction
warfiction

you are criticizing  the guy who is criticizing someone so you are criticizing the criticizes. so the opinion should be respect  but the opinion of fuzzier not?

Logixyz
Logixyz

@Mortz_88 isn't it obvious? fuzzier thinks he's a real gangster and thus know why this game is crap.

Because fuzzier is the real things and it takes one to know one

Omerta: City of Gangsters More Info

First Release on Jan 31, 2013
  • Macintosh
  • PC
  • Xbox 360
Omerta - City of Gangsters is a simulation game with tactical turn-based combat where players take the role of a fresh-from-the-boat immigrant with dreams of the big life who must work his way up the criminal hierachy of 1920's Atlantic City.
5.4
Average User RatingOut of 190 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate Omerta: City of Gangsters
Developed by:
Kalypso
Published by:
Kalypso
Genres:
Strategy
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
All Platforms
Alcohol Reference, Blood, Language, Violence