STAFF REVIEW of Omerta - City of Gangsters (Xbox 360)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

Omerta - City of Gangsters Box art When you think of "Gangster" references in the media, you often get less than a handful of examples that would classify as great quality. Movies such as: The Godfather, The Godfather II, Goodfellas, and Scarface have defined the gangster role in our minds for decades. While these examples define top quality gangster movies, Omerta: City of Gangsters by Kalypso aims to become known as a top quality gangster simulation video game. There have been very few successful classic gangster style games, so will Omerta break the trend and stand above the competition to prove once and for all that you can have a violent turn based strategy style gangster game? Well let's find out.

From the beginning there are a couple things we would like to point out. First off the install size of the game is less than 900MB which means that either there is a wealth of content but it's microscopic and in many pieces, or that there isn't much content to begin with. After wandering the streets and trying to build an empire you realize that there is a ton of content packed into this little game however, a vast majority of the content is nothing that would help improve the game. The second point we have to mention is that Omerta is what gamers might call a "budget" priced title since it retails for $49.99. While the savings on the wallet is significant, please don't expect some grand or amazing classic gangster production that would make Marlon Brando stand up and applaud.

To start things off with a bang you are given a multitude of options in the beginning ranging from a story mode to a very simplistic multiplayer mode. When you select the story mode you have a chance to roughly develop your character and back story by making various choices to various questions. Each answer brings with it bonuses that apply to your character's stats but at the same time to increase the balance of the game, there are also stats that are negatively affected so make your choices wisely. After you make your way through your character development, you will go face to face with the greatest enemy of the game, the turn based world of Omerta. Think of this game as a turn based strategy game set in the time when prohibition was rampant and organized crime was just staring to... well, organize. From the top down view you have your basic camera controls which operate from the left and right thumbsticks and control things such as zoom and rotation. The problem though with this is that sometimes as you navigate buildings and the surrounding areas, trying to find good places to position your characters becomes a hassle due to the time it takes to properly align the camera.

The turn based control scheme also is something that feels like something that hasn't been polished up. Forcing you to zoom in to pinpoint where your character wants to go becomes an almost immediate hassle that unfortunately will stay with you throughout the entire game. If the control scheme wasn't enough to make you disappointed, the levels themselves will. In Omerta there are your buildings (gold building signs), independent businesses (green building signs), or competing businesses (red building signs). Your goal is simple, make these buildings turn to your color. Once you do that, nothing changes except the color of the sign over the building. This gives gamers a feel of pointless exploration, esp. when you have to manage a God awful camera system. To compound the problems already blatant with Omerta, the plot of the game is next to non-existent. There may be a few storyboard scenes with only a few lines spoken, but the majority of the time you will find yourself dealing with just a pop up screen that delivers a few lines of text and that’s it.

Now previous turn based strategy games have been assigned to a more grid style system which made maneuvering very straight forward and simplistic, and in Omerta that grid system is almost non-existent, which in turn, gives you the gamer more freedom to control your character and move them where you actually want them. This is handy when you start looking for cover to hide behind but becomes an instant and constant struggle when you combine in the already existing problems with the poor control scheme. So while this freedom is new, the execution of the movement failed to hit its mark. When you actually get to combat there will be multiple times when you wish you hadn't, and that’s a shame because you would expect such a game to have taken the development steps needed to ensure a top quality game at a budget price. Sadly though, the more you play Omerta the more you wonder if Kalypso had any staff devoted to quality.

There is an important question though you have to ask and that is: "Is there anything enjoyable about Omerta?" and the answer is the music, but only by a small amount. The reason for this is due to the classic feel of the music and the time period it puts you in, however, there are issues with this as well as during certain scenes and loading sequences the music would skip repeatedly and when you have a trumpet blasting over and over and over again, by the time the loading screen is done and you're back in the game, you're already given up all hope and are looking for another game to play.

Unfortunately the same people who brought the gaming world Tropico couldn't produce a quality title with Omerta. With such a monumental stack of flaws and faults and priced at $49.99 you wonder two things: 1) "Why isn't this game priced at $19.99 or below?" and 2) "What other games are out there that may be worth the $59.99 price tag that I could find more enjoyment out of?" Make no mistake, if you buy Omerta, you'll bring it home, play it for maybe a couple hours, then seal it in concrete and let it sleep with the fishes. It really is a shame when you can find a better quality game for less money and on the Xbox Live Arcade.

Overall: 5.0 / 10
Gameplay: 3.7 / 10
Visuals: 4.5 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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