E3 2012: Omerta preview

The classic gangsters are making a comeback! Thanks to a revival of the historic theme in tv shows like Boardwalk Empire, and popular games like Mafia II and LA Noire a lot of people are jumping on the prohibition era including Kalypso who are homing in on the 1920s where crime was all about respect, and the code of Omerta was followed.

Omerta - City of Gangsters is in development at Haemimont Games; the strategy geniuses that brought us the most recent iterations in the magnificent Tropico series, with the game running in the Tropico engine Omerta is the equivalent of the modern reboot of the classic Eidos game Gangsters: Organised Crime and combines real time and turn based strategy in 1920's Atlantic City.

The game takes place over 20 different regions of the city, and each region is operated by different gangs with the main objective to 'own' every region and have your right hands doing your bidding across the city. Inside of each region you can bust out 'missions' that will be enacted in real time such as drive by shootings, and the city is living and breathing location with a full night cycle and weather conditions that can all affect the outcome of missions.

Like any good gangster if you can balance your dirty money with your clean money then you'll climb the ladder to success, deal too much with disreputable businesses such as illegal boxing and speakeasies and you'll become notorious with the general populace, however simply run legitimate businesses and you'll get nowhere.

However the main focus of what we were shown surrounded the combat system in Omerta, because sometimes simply pulling the strings of the city is just not enough, and even the don needs to get his hands dirty every now and again. When combat is involved the game turns into a classic tactical turn-based RPG; where each character is controlled one at a time with two phases, one for movement, the second for action.

We watched a skirmish break out at a local KKK meeting where some of the traditional and new aspects of the subgenre really shone, like sending your gang memebers into cover for a little extra protection against potentially armed enemies. In Omerta you can only shoot what you see, and Haemimont have implemented a fog of war, line of sight and awareness system to make their conflicts intense, realistic and challenging.

Much like Jagged Alliance's M.E.R.C recruitment, there are a large selection of 'gangsters' that you can employ up to a total of 15 which you can use to carry out tasks or simply control an area. Each gangster can specialise in specific traits such as long range weaponry, muscle or fast-talking schmoozers. Better yet, you can pick and choose your favourites like in any good RPG, as each gang member has their own unique levelling system, and will be rewarded perks upon survival and completion of missions.

We were only shown a morsel of Omerta, and with a main focus on the turn based combat there's a whole host of management that has not been explored, and of course it's very difficult to capture the whole essence of what is 15-20 hours of gameplay, but what we have sampled is remarkable.

The way Omerta is currently shaping up, it could well be a contender for the 'Gangsters' release for the current generation, that strategy fans have been waiting long enough for. Omerta - City of Gangsters is scheduled for a release September 2012 for PC and Xbox 360.


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