Omerta: City of Gangsters Review

What Omerta does best is capture the charm of the 1920s, from the soundtrack’s smooth jazz tunes, to the accents of the colorful characters, to the aesthetics of period city districts and vehicles. Also, everyone wears hats, be they fedoras, cloche hats, or newsboy caps. Quality voice acting helps establish a cast of memorable characters, even though the fresh-off-the-boat protagonist should have had an Italian accent rather than an Italian American accent.

Omerta even touches on the themes of racism and sexism, issues that plagued society in those days, without being offensive or irreverent, and without taking the easy way out by ignoring them altogether.

The game uses this setting to tell a traditional gangster story, and while I’m tempted to call Omerta’s stylized slideshow cutscenes a cop-out to proper CGI, the artistry with which they’re executed just works, and they suit the whole 1920s theme.

Once you’ve completed the campaign, you can either play in a sandbox mode, or opt for multiplayer, which comes in two flavors: PvP combat or co-op combat, with two maps available for each mode. Players earn in-game money from completing missions, which they can use to personalize and upgrade their customizable team of gangsters. Unfortunately, given combat isn’t Omerta’s strength, multiplayer leaves much to be desired — a more interesting take may have been to allow two players to vie for control of a city district, taking over each other’s establishments, taking out their underbosses, and executing drive-bys on their hideouts. Instead, we’re given an experience that differs in no significant way to singleplayer combat, which is compounded by the lack of any chat system in-game. When you can’t interact, there’s little difference between an AI teammate and a real person. Well, I suppose the AI doesn’t rage-quit when its goons die.

So what Omerta ultimately leaves us with is a charming retro experience that captures the swing and swagger of the 1920s and the nostalgia of turn-based titles from the ’90s, but without incorporating anything that truly evolves the genre or that is even executed to the standards of similar games out presently. The $40 price tag feels a little steep given that you can strip out the combat and be left with what amounts to a Facebook game, and the combat is perhaps the weakest aspect of the game. While the city view and the ability to zoom, pan, and rotate around the various period districts is impressive, nothing impressive is done with it other than to serve as eye candy. If you’re a genre fan looking to play a ’90s-era turn-based title with more modern graphics, then Omerta may be worth picking up on a Steam sale — the game isn’t without its fun moments. But if you’re expecting a game with a great deal of replay value, then you’ll soon find yourself breaking the code of silence.

Pros:

  • Charming portrayal of the 1920s prohibition era
  • Jazzy period music
  • Nostalgic flavor
  • Impressive city management view
  • Strong characterization of NPCs

Cons:

  • Gameplay becomes repetitive
  • Cover system isn’t implemented particularly well
  • Lack of organized income statistics
  • Multiplayer leaves much to be desired

Final Score: 70/100

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