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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123 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

tmacman
tmacman

The problem is the price. For £10, I might not bat an eye lid, it would be a nice little game, but for £30? JEEZUS!  

warfiction
warfiction

the companies are afraid, they choose to  make a ordinary gameplay that any one can play on make something special that only  a select group of people will really enjoy!

they have to realise that a good game for a select group  can profit, this kind of game will continue to be played on the next 5 years.and can be made  a lot of extra content

 not that piece of s....!  i can play that for  two weaks


Entropy730
Entropy730

I wish Hot House Creations would remake a new Gangsters 2.... THAT was an awesome mafia game!

highlanderjimd
highlanderjimd

its not that bad. Defo better gameplay than the hideous shit of COD etc..


warfiction
warfiction

put that grafic on gangster 1 !! done 

Hellcanwait
Hellcanwait

Bollox, I had such high hopes for this game....

thequickshooter
thequickshooter

any indie game blows, cause why pay 15$ on something that has been worked by one to three people who make stupid ideas in 2D 

and for the publishers like GOG and steamgreen light, at least tell your customers you'r sellin shit!

Lostout1989
Lostout1989

Looks like RE6 fanboys have some gangster company!

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

My instinct pretty much told me this when I saw the screens.

runarjenssen
runarjenssen

I wouldn't give it a 4, that'd mean it's below average. It's mediocre, but not WORSE than mediocre. The game is too shallow, and that's its main issue. It's too shallow, and there's too much repetition. With that said, I'm actually enjoyin the game quite a bit. It has its charm, the graphics are nice, the music is great and the combat is quite decent (the enemy AI is waaaaaaaaaay better than in Xcom). The city management feels too much like a facebook/mobile game though. Nothing wrong with that really, but demanding €45 for that is a fucking outrage.

Valleyzboyo
Valleyzboyo

On one hand Omerta features praised in an Andy Bauman video that cures PXB (Post Xcom Blues), and yet here Stace Harman is saying it's a poor 4.0. I'm glad I didn't shell out 30 brit bucks on Steam because of this inconsistency. Shame, because I had high hopes for this game. And it's PXB relieving qualities.

WCK619
WCK619

the same studio that somehow managed to ruin a Jagged Alliance 2 remake makes another terrible game. I'm shocked. This is a German company though. So many the Germans are really into bad games. Aren't they the ones that buy up all those horrible simulator games like Street Cleaner?

RDavy22
RDavy22

Jeeez enough with bedroom eyes!!...

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

Having played for about 8 hours, I agree with every point in the review, except for perhaps one point in the combat section - it does matter if your posse get too many negative effects from going down, but this is saved by simply auto-resolving until you get the desired result. Very silly way of doing things, and there really is no strategy to it. To call it TBS is false as it really Turn-Based Dice-Roll. 

As a cheap Indie title I could have forgiven this, but not as it is released  a Triple A title. In fact Triple A seems to just add the rider "disappointment in store", and has done for almost 2 years now.

kennythomas26
kennythomas26

I might pick this game up for my 360, maybe.

KingBobCat
KingBobCat

I don't always agree with Gamespot's reviews, but this one is dead on. I think one of the great disappointments with this game is the blown potential ... I really expected more from the company that brought us Tropico. And not all, but many people think this game is a stinker and I totally agree. I don't even know if it's fixable/patchable or not, it's so far off. And don't get me wrong ... I love economic sims and REALLY wanted to like this game.

But, it wasn't said here, but the best description/quote I've seen is "It's like playing Monopoly against yourself." Where are the rival gangs, etc.?

JDFS
JDFS

I've been playing Omerta multiplayer the past 3 days and this game is not boring at all, 4.0? Gamespot should stop making reviews seriously, this game is good you need strategy and you have to think beforehand or you'll lose, it's about logic and strategy, just like someone said, it's like saying Chess has poor gaming because you're too dumb to play it... >_>

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

Well this is incredibly disappointing.  I was actually quite looking forward to this game.

ssdd_again
ssdd_again

I've only played the demo. That said this review is pretty much spot on. I was hoping (like many others) that Kalypso would make a more modern (and better ) version of Gangsters or Gangsters 2 but they've just missed the mark entirely. So disappointing.

Gangsters 2 (a game now more than a decade old) is more entertaining in my opinion. And that got poor reviews at the time.

Omerta: City of Gangsters More Info

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  • First Released
    released
    • 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.
    5.3
    Average Rating190 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Omerta: City of Gangsters
    Developed by:
    Kalypso
    Published by:
    Kalypso
    Genre(s):
    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