Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 04, 2013
Omerta – City of Gangsters

As I recently mentioned I impulse-bought Omerta - City of Gangsters as pre-order. Now the game came out, and I had the opportunity to play it during the weekend. Omerta is most similar to XCOM, having both a resource management part and a turn-based tactical combat part, but the setting is prohibition era gangsters instead of aliens. And unfortunately Omerta doesn't quite have the brilliance of XCOM.

That is not to say that Omerta is a bad game, it just isn't an outstanding one. The strategic part is a lot less tense, because your economic situation resets at the start of each mission. You keep your gangsters, levels, and weapons you picked up in previous missions, but you always start in a new neighborhood, having to rebuild your economy over and over. The reason for that is probably that the economic game is not very deep, and actually doesn't need all that much input from you. Your businesses tend to make money on their own, and in many cases you can just let the game run and it will accumulate money. You might want to interact with your economy just for the fun of it, or to make money faster, but in general you'll always be making the money you need sooner or later.

The tactical combat is more challenging. Your characters have movement points and action points, but most actions also wipe out all of your remaining movement, so just like in XCOM you tend to move first and then shoot. There is a system of cover, and a variety of different weapons, each with different attacks. Each weapon type has its advantages and disadvantages, and over time you can find "green" or "purple" name weapons with better stats. Your character stats and selected perks make you characters specialize in either guns or melee weapons, but inside each category you can freely switch around between fights, giving you a lot of variety. A fight with pistols and revolvers tends to be rather different from a fight with shotguns and tommy guns. I'm not convinced guns are balanced with melee weapons, it appears to me as if you shouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight, but then melee weapons seem to deal somewhat more damage to make up for the short range. With levels, and independent from the weapon they are wielding, your characters also gain special combat abilities, which usually can be used just once per combat, or need you kill somebody to recharge. While graphically and atmospherically less intense than XCOM fights, the tactical fights are fun enough, and the best part of the game.

To some extent you can choose how much you want to fight. For example there are independent operations in your neighborhood, which you could either raid, or first get friendly with and then buy out. There might be a bank, which you could leave well alone, or risk a hard fight to get money quickly. You can't completely avoid fighting, because usually each mission has some scripted fights as part of the story. And with fighting being more fun than watching your money accumulate on its own, I tend to go for the fighting option. The one thing you always want to use your money for is to bribe policemen, because that is one of the few places where you can get new weapons for your gangsters.

Overall Omerta - City of Gangsters is an okay game. Certainly not as good as XCOM, but then there isn't exactly an abundance of modern turn-based tactical games on the PC right now. Would you rather play an okay game of your favorite genre, or a great game of a genre you don't like so much?

It sounds pretty interesting to me. I may just try it. I didn't really like the strategy side of Xcom in any case. It started out impossibly hard and then about half way through the game, (once I had enough satellites up) it just flipped and became trivially easy.

On the broader question I think it is a shame that there are so many 90+ rated games around these days that many very worthy 75+ candidates get overlooked. Many of these not quite brilliant games are just as good as classic games we played and enjoyed a few years back when there was less choice. I say if you have a reasonably decent game in a genre you like go for it.
I gave it a shot. I loved the original Gangsters 1 & 2, and this seemed to run in the same theme. Throwing in some XCOM definitely couldn't hurt.

But yeah. The strategic game is as shallow as initially suspected, and the tactical game lacks the carefully-balanced nuance and flair of XCOM.

It's just OK. I don't begrudge them the price, much, that was my gamble to make, but I won't be recommending my friends buy it.

(Oddly I seem to value their money and time more highly than I value my own?)
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