GameNTrain Review – Omerta: City of Gangsters

I wanted to like Omerta: City of Gangsters. I really did.

Omerta Overworld MapYou take a game like The Sims and combine it with Mafia. That’s what we were promised. And I’m sure that’s what this game tried to deliver. We were supposed to end up with a cross-breeding of Monopoly and Boardwalk Empire, with awesome visuals and turn-based strategy combat.

There’s just one problem… I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON!

I have a 32 inch TV. That’s not a small TV in any sense. Its not the biggest TV out there, but its a decent size and has never given me any issue playing a game before.

Omerta is the first game I have played that is entirely unplayable due to its font size.

Don’t get me wrong. I can do a few basic commands in game to get missions moving. I can hire goons that I can’t read the names of and I can steal alcohol from store locations. What I don’t get from this is an understanding of what I’m doing.

Have a look at the screenshot below…

Omerta Battles

Notice how small the font size is. Notice how the font doesn’t pop out at you from the colors in the background. How am I supposed to understand the purpose of my mission if it is entirely unreadable?

Now I know some readers are probably scoffing at this and saying “32 inches… why don’t you just buy a bigger TV?”

Well, why should I? If I can play all of the premiere titles of our generation, like Mass Effect 3, Darksiders 2, Skyward Sword, Metal Gear Solid 4 and who knows what other games on this size of a TV with no issues, why should I have to upgrade my TV for THIS GAME?

And if I’m having trouble with it, I pity the PC gamers. Their screen size is nowhere near this big when it comes to your average, everyday computer monitor.

Building up your criminal empire - OmertaHell, I can even play Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds on my 32 inch television with no issues and that game is entirely text driven. Why should this game be given the benefit of the doubt when it will probably alienate half of the gaming populous due to font size alone?

Aside from that major issue,the game has some fundamental flaws. For instance…

This game relies on text and click missions when building your criminal empire. Aside from the point that the text is unreadable, the whole point of playing a mafia game is to see your band of crooks in action when nasty business goes down!

But we don’t do that with Omerta. Instead, after you select one of the members of your criminal empire to go on a mission, you will see them walk from your safehouse to the mission location, they will go inside the building, you wait until you hear a ping sound effect, which signifies the mission is complete and then the criminal walks back to base. That’s it!

There’s no risk of rival gangs stopping you, no risk of police breaking up the party. No additional source of difficulty whatsoever.

What is the point of sending your guys to do something if you don’t get to see what happens? This isn’t supposed to be a text based game. This is supposed to be a simulated 1920s gangster simulation. At least in the Sims, you can see your people going to the bathroom or cooking food. Here, you can’t even see what the hell just happened. You just have to take the games word for it, assume that bad stuff happened and say hurrah for your imagination.

Omerta sceneryNow, if you are going to have an unreadable font for your missions, you would assume the game would have voice acting to guide you through. And it does have some voice acting, but that’s mainly to give a minor tip as to what to do next. Nothing giving you a step by step guide  in this game on how to achieve your goals as a crime lord. You are taken through how to do many of the games empire building actions through text tutorials, but as I mentioned about the text before, in most cases, the text is pretty much unreadable.

More importantly, for a game that tries to immerse you in the gameplay and setting, Omerta’s voice acting and music does not do the job. The voice acting is decent and fits the period, but it caters to a bland mafia storyline that seems to be ripped straight from a Facebook crime game. As for the music, it does fit the period, but the music is also overtly bland and something I would mute after 15 minutes of play.

Like I said, I wanted to like this game. I love the premise behind it. I think the visuals are spot on for a period piece. But the text size makes it so I can’t read what I am trying to play and the lack of visual stimuli in the game’s main city builder mode simply bores me before I could even make it to what’s supposed to me Omerta’s most promising parts… the turn-based strategy battles.

And don’t forget, this game includes RPG elements right off the bat. You have to answer a series of questions right from the start to determine your character’s stats. What are these stats used for? How do they play into the game? I did not see a single use for them, but who knows? That might play a factor somewhere in the gameplay. If it does, it happens long after I turned this mediocre game off.

I give Omerta a 1/5. The one in that rating is for the promising style of play this game attempted to achieve. The idea of combining a monopoly style mafia game with some turn based strategy elements seemed like a great idea at the time, but the developers failed to capitalize on the elements of a great mafia storyline to incorporate into this bland game. Because of this, this game comes across as a broken promise to gamers that are a fan of this genre.

Did you have a different experience with Omerta: City of Gangsters and would like to share? Feel free to share your comments and thoughts on the game in the comments section below. Or send an e-mail to gameon@gamentrain.com and let me know what you think of this game.

Thank you to Kalypso Media for providing us with a review copy of Omerta: City of Gangsters.

the author

Jeff Johnson is a Canadian journalist and the host of GameOn here at GameNTrain. He was born in Ontario, but moved to British Columbia to learn what it's like to be attacked by deer on a regular basis. If you've got an idea for a feature story on GameOn or would like to be featured as a contibutor, simply e-mail gameongamentrain@gmail.com. You can also find Jeff on Google+ at http://www.gplus.to/jeffjohnsongnt