Omerta the premise looked interesting when picking up Omerta, a nice mix of The Sims and The Godfather, which sounded like a match made in heaven. You start out choosing how you like, you can be suave sporting a French ‘tache or be the bruiser with scars and all. Then your name, even your nickname. I begin to wonder about where this life of crime will take me, within the Mafia world. Sadly, once the game gets going all dreams of grandeur soon fade away, because what could have been a very exciting title, it ends up feeling like a chore set by your mother before you can have that chocolate cake for dessert.
So you’ve picked what you look like and your nickname, and you’re then asked a series of questions; this is to gauge your character’s stats. Although after going through the questions a number of times it doesn’t feel like your answers really make all that much of a difference. Once the character creation is complete you jump into the 1920’s world of the Mafia and you’ll start to make money, friends and enemies doing little jobs on the side as you make your way up the criminal ladder.
The birds-eye view employed by the game feels rather clunky and it doesn’t seem to marry up very well with the map on-screen. A point of interest will flash on your map, but due to the un-user friendly view you’ll fly-by it multiple times before finally finding it. The towns aren’t bad to look at it, but they lack atmosphere and the place looks like something out of the Truman show with all the little characters following their pre-determined routes, never daring to cross a road or stop and chat with friends on the street.
The game will have you performing a multitude of tasks from bribing police to buying property and trading liquor. This is all done by clicking the relevant building and simply choosing which action you wish to take. Again this does feel far to linear, depending on the building you’ll be given two, perhaps three choices, where as it would have been nicer to see you get given the chance to do a lot more. You’re meant to be a Don in the making, let’s torch some buildings on a whim to flex your muscle for crying out loud!
As you embark on your various missions you’re also given a number of henchman who can help you out in your quest for Mafia dominance. For many missions or tasks, you do need to think about which one of your minions you send out, as they all have their own unique abilities. This can actually be quite fun getting the choice wrong or right and cleaning up the mess yourself if it does indeed go wrong.
You can also team up with your comrades and go into combat mode to sort out a situation. Sadly, this is we arrive at the biggest let-down the game has to offer, as the combat system is simply deplorable. Omerta’s conflict system is turn-based, you have a set number of steps and a set number of shots. Your effectiveness depends on your experience, which will increase as you complete more and more tasks. It is all ruined by the simple things, like when you set your character to walk into cover and he instead opts to stand out in the open, or using your shotgun two feet from the perp and missing, it is infuriating to say the least. Slow, laborious and in no way fun to use, which is a shame, because if done right this could have been the best aspect of Omerta. Like the birds-eye view of your town the combat camera is also clunky and doesn’t help the situation at all, basically, it all adds up to a very bad experience, so bad that you’ll be bribing your way out of firefights more often than not.
The police do come onto the scene every now and again, but if things get a little hot (as determined by your heat rating) then another quick bribe and you’ll be on your merry way. The bribery system is very cheap in Omerta, I would have expected it to cost a lot more to keep the police off your back, but it seems like mere pennies in the grand scheme of things, and the police are a nuance at best. There is also a distinct lack of enemies, as a mob boss I’d expect my ‘patch’ to come up for contention from opposing Mafia bosses, but there are no warring gangs, no neighbouring dons or warlord-esque bosses, a simple inclusion such as this could have added much more to Omerta, but again we are left without.
The box did say that Omerta has an online multiplayer, but it is best left alone, as it’s even less enjoyable than the campaign and lacks any activity whatsoever.
In recap, Omerta is a poor attempt at making a turn based mafia game and this is truly a shame, it looked like it could have been so much more. The idea is quite novel, Omerta though was poorly executed and has left the door open for someone else to come along, use the same idea, refine it and produce a much better product. It’s visually bland and lacks any atmosphere, has no multiplayer to speak of, there is little to do in game and the combat mode is terrible on so many levels. It’s been a while since I’ve played such a terrible game, but alas Omerta is one that I wouldn’t dare to recommend to anyone, the best thing this game could do is end quickly and gracefully with a fade to black…..