It’s surprising that the invigorating simulation game genre has yet to fully embrace the mobsters and bootleggers of the Prohibition era. After all, who wouldn’t want to role-play as a mafia boss? Sure, the “Mafia” franchise drops you in the 1940s as a soldier in the mafia, but it doesn’t actually give you a chance to handle the logistics behind the bootlegging, hits and other shady business.
The developers of “Tropico” approach the Prohibition era from a completely different angle in “Omerta: City of Gangsters.” Walking off a boat from Sicily, I found myself in a small section of Atlantic City during the Prohibition era.
Seeing part of the town projected in a top-down 3D perspective wasn’t what I had expected from a mafia simulator. There was the iconic old-time music and weathered portraits, but I didn’t see any guns or booze.
If you’re looking to simulate strategic battles between mobsters, look elsewhere. Although there are plenty of tommy guns and revolvers, the fighting is just too simple to be interesting. Battles become tedious after a few turns, and they aren’t helped by the lackluster special abilities available to different types of soldiers.
The simulation aspect is genuinely interesting, albeit incredibly repetitive. Every scenario starts with your henchman in a hideout. Various buildings throughout the city are available to be rented, fire-bombed, shot at or purchased. Premises, joints, construction sites and independent businesses are your bread and butter. These buildings can be turned into businesses which boost your income and can yield beer, liquor or firearms.
The simulation and combat form a cohesive campaign that puts you in the middle of a family conflict while attempting to take over the city. The story itself is told through pictures and voice-overs although it amounts to little more than a generic mafia story.
Deep into my journey in becoming the top mobster in Atlantic City, I had my own brother promising to throw me in jail. My gang consisted of five guys and one girl with blaringly generic names. Doc was my field doctor and Alfredo was my rifle-toting hit man.
After scamming a celebrity for $1,320 clean cash, the local police started investigating my operation. After clicking on the investigation button, I was given the option to pay $500 as a bribe, or to give up a local crime boss. I chose the latter since most of the city was already mine.
“Omerta: City of Gangsters” doesn’t try to reinvent the simulation game genre. It’s not ground-breaking or innovative, but it’s fun. Despite the over-simplified combat and repetition of gameplay, it does have a complete story with mechanics that actually work. You may not feel like a real gangster, but you’ll be peddling liquor and beer to the highest bidder while fending off hit men and the police alike.