OMERTA: City of Gangsters is the latest in the line of Sim/Action/Strategy games. These are the type
of game where you control Sims, attempt to plan out their moves and then proceed to involve them in
tricky situations where combat is often but not always the way out.
The game begins well with a seriies of black & white photo "shots" purportedly from the 1930s-40s
period of American big town Prohibition. Then you get to name your main character (in 12 spaces)
and then choose from a selection of mug-shots which face to put to your name. the other faces will
appear later in the game as you progress and your gang grows.
Now answer numerous questions, well okay not that many, to determine your background, which in
turn determines your characters statistics - strength, guts, etc.
You are then given a city and location for your safehouse and are quickly joined by a couple of your old
friends to begin your gang. First off though you visit a local informer and discover where the breweries
are to be found - you need to know as these will yield the beginnings of your empire. Stealing beer and
liquor allows you to sell it and make money to hire more men, and have Politicians in your pocket while
you entertain one or more celebrities (and scam cash from them of course). Money makes your world
go round but to begin with you are mostly dealing in dirty money. To become legitimate you need to
launder this into clean money and that, naturally, costs more dirty money - crime is a vicious circle!
Graphically, this is a beautiful rendition of Prohibition America, with its built up areas along straight roads
that seem to go on forever, but just behind these the desert stretches even further. You get to see what
Bugsy Siegel and others envisioned when they moved to Nevada and built their gambling interests in Las
Now we come to the game itself, the actual playing, and this is where things go down a gear. The play is
too slow and the action is too cumbersome, especially combat. As your gang builds you can send each
of your men (sometimes more than one at a time) to various locations to conduct business. they can be
performing legitimate or illegal transactions, raiding, stealing, performing drive-bys, and sometimes even
killing, though this is almost certainly only when other gangsters try to stop you carrying out your work.
Using the control sticks and buttons on your controller you manoeuvre your sights around the city until
you find a location with an icon (there are several different types) floating above it. these are places where
you can do something. This is not always illegal, for you may be hiring a warehouse or new hideout, but
of course you may also be buying alcohol or guns.
Your characters have a certain number of Action points to spend each round as this is a turn based game.
In combat, firing, as in who fires first and how accurately, is decided by the characters statistics. Once you
realise how important these stats are you should go for higher "Smarts" as this speeds up the time it takes
for you to negotiate, raid etc. In fact with high "Smarts" you can almost do away with combat situations.
You get to select which illegal activity your gang should be involved in but once you have reached a set
goal the location of your hideout becomes too well known and you have to move to a new place in a new
town and start again - you cannot go back and all the hard work and time you put into building up your
business is lost.
This version is so much better than the text version I played as an earlier beta test. I started it with an open
mind and took my time learning the controls and what was expected of me, and as it began my interest piqued,
then unfortunately the lethargic gameplay outweighed everything that I enjoyed.