With Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and DMC: Devil May Cry, January was a damn good start to the year. Topping it all off was Haemimnot Games’ Omerta: City of Gangsters which was released on the 31st via Steam and will hit the 360 on the 12th of February.

As a fan of strategy games and of prohibition era gangsters, I figured this would be the game for me. Set in 1920’s Atlantic City, New Jersey; Omerta: City of Gangsters places players in the roll of a rising gangster. You’ll bribe police, open speakeasies, and duke it out with rival factions. The game is split into two sections similar to that of XCOM. From the tactical view you’ll manage all things not combat oriented such as trades, purchasing buildings, bribing officials, and making alcohol. As conflict arises you’re transitioned to the combat portion which similar to that of XCOM.

At the beginning of the game players have the ability to create their character’s backstory from various choices.  Most are fairly stereotypical gangster movie tropes and lacks the ability to allow players to be immersed in their character’s shoes. You also get to manage your skills, such as toughness, charm, and skill with a gun or melee weapon. It’s all very RPGish and gives a good sense of what’s to come—or so I thought.

On the strategic side of things, it’s all far too easy. Making money and managing business lacks any real challenge. It becomes tedious within the first couple missions. Each tactical portion is basically just testing your patience. No rival gangs pester you; making alcohol doesn’t take any special prerequisites it’s all a walk in the park. A series of clicks over a 15-20 minute time frame doesn’t make for enjoyable gameplay. I hoped the combat would make the lackluster strategic aspects worthwhile. Alas, it would not be so. While combat isn’t as big of a push-over as the strategy portions, it’s still incredibly dull. No real strategy is needed other than to kill the enemy before they kill you.  The cover system is flawed and my crew was constantly exposed when they were clearly behind cover. Enemy AI is lacking the intelligent aspect. Enemies constantly choose their targets poorly, leaving themselves exposed on all sides. I often found myself skipping the combat every chance I got.

O:COG, is also a particularly ugly game. True, most strategy games are not pretty but the muddy textures can be quite the eyesore. Much of the sound design and voice acting is forgettable as well. Most characters sound lifeless or have an incredibly unbearable voice. In fact I even recognized a reused cheering sound effect from Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. Though I’m not sure if that says more about me or the laziness of the dev team. One redeeming quality of its sound design is the soundtrack. While not spectacular, it’s still properly represents the 1920’s with some rather catchy jazz pieces.

The lack of a real story also hurts the overall experience as well. I would have forgotten it completely if it hadn’t popped up every now and then in-between missions. Strategies games tend not to have incredibly in-depth stories but when so many aspects of the game are already flawed you have to try to find some solace somewhere right?

Omerta: City of Gangsters had potential but ultimately muddled around in the sea of mediocrity. The gameplay is a drag, the story is nearly non-existent, and it’s technically flawed.   A 1920’s mobster simulator was a great premise. It’s a setting that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Omerta: City of Gangsters is a title worth overlooking.