Romero Games and Paradox Interactive have recently released their Prohibition era-inspired game called Empire of Sin. Unluckily Sin is a perfect title for it.
Empire of Sin takes place in Chigaco in the 1920s with the players’ goal being to take it over by the early 1930s. In it, you can hire up to 16 named and unique characters from a group of 60 who serve you in combat to run your illegal businesses. These businesses range from speakeasies, casinos, to brothels.
The game is a mix of XCOM (I dislike this term but anyway) style combat and overhead city management in the vein of something like Stellaris. That being said if you have played Omerta – City of Gangsters the game is pretty much the same idea and game, if more polished and fleshed out in certain areas.
The best mafia themed game ever made is Hothouse Creations’ Gangsters: Organized Crime from 1998. So much so that if it worked on modern systems I would still play it. I was hoping that Empire of Sin would be like that game with a modern coat of paint, it isn’t. This is a big disappointment, while the game isn’t bad, it isn’t great either and when compared to Omerta and Gangsters it comes off as a pale imitation.
The problem with Omerta and now Empire of Sin is they are too similar to Gangsters 2 which tried and failed to give you a more character-focused game. Where you control a few characters who have special abilities and the like. This isn’t what makes a good mafia game you need to have a more over the top view and control of the game. You need to feel like the decisions you make matter and you need to have the ability to bend the game to your will.
Gangsters: Organized Crime was perfect in this regard. In it, you had a city and characters that were randomly generated. While this could have been a big mistake it wasn’t. It made the game special and unique. The game had about 5,000 random characters that behaved and acted in real-time. You could follow them, recruit them, or just beat them up for fun.
In Gangsters you had to find interesting characters, you learned what they were good at, and because of this, you got invested in their triumphs and failures. Omerta and Empire don’t give you that. These two games focus too much on the Hollywood take on the mafia.
Gangsters gave you options: You get arrested? Bribe the District Attorney or break yourself out. Want to find out where a rival gang is? Follow their members, question them, or check the map where there is a lot of action going down. Need to increase your reputation? Build soup kitchens, donate to charity, or bribe away. If you wanted to do something the game let you do it, it let you be creative.
You can have fun in the Empire of Sin if you understand that it isn’t probably what you are looking for in a mafia game. It isn’t a modern version of Gangsters: Organized Crime.
I am a big fan of Paradox and the Romero family but once again they are releasing a game that could do with more content and will likely only get to a solid place after more updates and DLC. With plenty of DLC and patches, it could get somewhere towards it in the future but this is a big ask.
City of Gangsters comes out in 2021. Hopefully, that game will be more like the legendary Gangsters from 22 years ago. Until then maybe check out Omerta – City of Gangsters when its on a sale.