Omerta: City of Gangsters is in the witness protection program. Unfortunately, it hasn’t moved far enough away from its old neighborhood to be truly free from its troubled past. Allow me to explain.
Sometimes, when in the course of reviewing events, it becomes necessary for a writer to acknowledge the poetical bands which have connected him with another. But, in showing decent respect to the opinions of mankind, I should (nay, I am required to) declare the cause which impels me toward separation. Reading over last year’s reviews of Omerta: City of Gangsters engenders a feeling that the game I’m playing isn’t the one that came out a year ago – isn’t the same one that everyone else reviewed. There are too many differences, too many inconsistencies, too many things I feel are right with this Gold edition, that others once lambasted the title for.
Donning my sleuthing cap, my pipe and monocle, I set out to solve this mystery, pouring hours into the game in the attempt to eliminate the impossible, so that whatever remained, however improbable, would be the truth (it’s not stealing – shut up). And eventually it dawned on me: the problem is The Japanese.
You see, Haemimont Games listened, and listened well to all the feedback surrounding their title. And for what mistakes Omerta originally made, the most recent DLC (The Japanese Incentive) tries valiantly to fix them. The trouble is that now it plays almost like a completely different game – which is great, in some regards, but also thoroughly confusing, particularly when it comes to the business of determining whether or not to recommend it.
Omerta is part economic simulator and part tactical combat fiasco, where the two parts ner’ shall intertwine. Playing through the majority of the game, you’ll spend time on an over head map, twiddling your thumbs with no particular pressure, slowly waiting for your objectives to be achieved. You can rent buildings and establish speakeasies, smuggling rings, protections rackets, etcetera, but there’s no real cohesion between buildings apart from an efficiency percentage. Unless you’re playing The Japanese Incentive expansion.
This sizeable chunk of the game finally introduces other gangs on the overhead map, who aggressively pursue and destroy your property. It makes the clicking faster and furiouser, but also a bit more frustrating. Even on easy the computer can be relentless, and at times it will be all you can do to hang onto your Atlantic City boardwalk empire. Nothing can be more deflating than working hard to launder money, funneling it into the construction of a Security office, only to have a fatal drive-by flush all that money down the toilet. You can hire goons to protect your buildings, but doing so is prohibitionatively expensive – apparently, contrary to popular wisdom, crime does pay, and well indeed: adjusted for inflation, hiring goons in this 1940’s era game costs today’s equivalent of $14,000.00. Fact.
Other, lesser DLC packs included in this Gold edition, do a bit to bridge the gap. But more often than not they simply push you too quickly towards achieving an objective and finishing a map sooner than you’d like, potentially missing an opportunity to bribe cops or crime lords selling golden guns (which naturally do more damage, because gold is shinier and softer than other metals and… videogame logic).
Switching back and forth between the campaigns can be dizzying. And since The Japanese don’t fix all the original game’s problems (but come with a few of their own) you’re more likely to feel as though you’ve been swindled; like you’ve fulfilled a booze order for a Jew, who just complains about the quality of the beer and demands you don’t charge full price or else all of God’s chosen will refuse to do business with you. (I’m not racist – that literally happens in this game. A lot. To the point where I stopped selling things to anyone sporting peot.)
The combat is far more difficult than it was previously, where melee weapons (particularly katana) feel immensely overpowered. At one time it was relatively easy to stand back and pick off enemies as they rushed blindly into your field of fire. Now, gangsters with tommy guns effectively snipe you from across the map, riddling you with bullet holes while your own 80% chance to hit repeatedly fails. And by “repeatedly fails” I mean literally missing seven shots in a row. As stated above: however improbable, it is the truth. (Ah, you thought I was just being ostentatious, didn’t you?) In any event, as much as the cover icons during the shooty bits mirror the phenomenal XCOM revival, you’re going to auto-resolve most fights when you can. And when you can’t, you’ll just reload the last auto-save and click auto-resolve again until the dice roll in your favor. Circumvention!
So, now that you’re as confused as I am (you’re welcome) let’s tear down this irreducible complexity: if you already owned Omerta: City of Gangsters, and you liked it, then you’ll love The Japanese Incentive. If you haven’t played the game before, but think it looks really cool and are wondering whether or not you should pick it up, then you have to get the Gold version, otherwise you’re sure to be disappointed. If The Japanese Incentive were its own, standalone feature, it’d be much easier to recommend. But as it stands, where buying one means being forced to accept the other, despite all its efforts to reinvent itself Omerta still hasn’t quite escaped its sordid past.
SCORE: 7.0 out of 10
A code for Omerta: City of Gangsters Gold Edition was provided to Pixel Related for review.