It would seem that after years of making niche titles such as The First Templar and the “banana republic” city building series Tropico, Haemimont Games has had to bite the bullet and create something with a more mainstream vibe.
Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine somebody picking up a copy of Omerta off the shelves expecting it to be another L.A Noire/Mafia II-style free roaming gangster game.
That’s not the case though – it’s a strategy sim with turn-based combat. Those who have played the underrated Tropico will feel a sense of familiarity as it would appear that the developers have recycled Tropico 4’s engine. This results in Omerta having very similar presentation and a near identical visual style. One thing that surprised us about the Xbox 360 versions of Tropico is that the control systems were transferred brilliantly to the Xbox 360’s joypad. Thankfully the same goes for Omerta – the amount of menus has been kept to a minimum and they’re pleasingly simple to navigate.
The premise is to set up a 1920s gangster empire. This is achieved one neighbourhood at a time, with each having different missions objectives and threats. After creating your own mob boss you’re then able to hire and fire henchmen and send them out to do dirty work. At the start only three henchmen are under your control but as the journey into organised crime progresses additional gangsters join your cause. They have slightly different personalities and skill sets – compiling a mob with talents that complement each other takes a little experimentation.
When entering a new neighbourhood the first thing on the agenda is always to find an informant and shake them down for info. This will reveal the whereabouts of various places of interest, including secret bars and the homes of other crime lords. Some informants will take a cash bribe, while others require booze to loosen their lips.
As the game is set during a probation period, booze is in high demand. Distilleries and breweries can be set up on the sly inside rented residential properties. These provide a steady source of income, especially if there’s an illegal bar in your posession. Weapons too can be smuggled and bought on the black-market. Occasionally these have to be used as bribes as well. We found that generally money wasn’t hard to come by – it doesn’t matter where on the map you place your illegal businesses as they always make a profit. If, for some reason, money does become tight you can always send the henchmen out to burgle citizens’ homes and raid rival businesses.