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Empire Of Sin

Posted by GG Goblin On December - 16 - 2020

Heading back to the 1920s to run a successful criminal organisation.

 
Paradox Interactive and Romero Games’ latest title want players to rule over Chicago. This is no modern setting though, rather casting the player back to the heights of prohibition in the US, which of course gives the player all sorts of different opportunities when starting a criminal empire. With a touch of XCOM style combat, some serious sitdowns with various other gang leaders, and an illegal business empire to build up, Empire of Sin seems set to make a mobster out of all of us.

 


 
Empire of Sin does a really great job of bringing 1920s prohibition-era Chicago to life. From wandering the Chicago streets, to spending time in any one of the plentiful buildings that the player can enter, it all feels authentic and of the time. The same can be said for the soundtrack that matches up with the action while keeping in with the time period. The character are all slightly exaggerated and don’t always move quite naturally, but are easy enough to identify. From this point of view, the production on Empire of Sin is pretty good.

 
But the visuals and sound are all fluff really, as Empire of Sin is a strategy game and it all comes down to mechanics. While there is the tactical, turn-based combat to enjoy, the most important part of the game is the empire building itself. And this all starts with a gangster.

 


 
When starting an Empire of Sin playthrough, players will have to first choose their boss. There are currently 14 bosses to choose from, offering a nice selection of well known, and less well known, real world gangsters, along with some purely fictional characters created for the game. This choice of boss is not simply down to looks or allegiance though, as each of these characters come with their own backstory and bonuses. These can be special abilities in combat, various buffs that make the empire building that little bit easier, or some kind of diplomacy boost. Either way, it makes choosing a boss important as it will affect how the game plays. It also means that trying different bosses gives Empire of Sin good replayability.

 
Once the boss have been picked, the player will be dropped into Chicago and offered a tutorial, which is very much worth playing through at least once as there are a lot of different mechanics to get to grips with. The player will come out of the tutorial with a safehouse and a pair of businesses. These first businesses are a Speakeasy, which is a place that sells illegal alcohol, and a brewery. This is the perfect place to start building the empire. Chicago is split into various areas, with each area being home to not only plenty of already running businesses and empty buildings that are perfect for setting up, but also rival gangs. As the player takes control of more buildings and creates more businesses, they will have various aspects to improve, such as the security of the place or even the ambiance, in order to bring in more money and keep the place safe from rival gangs or the police.

 
While the player brings in the money, stockpiles alcohol, and opens more businesses, their notoriety will start to go up. This can cause problems with the authorities, but it also opens up the chance to hire more accomplished mobsters, while also allowing the boss themselves to level up and become more powerful. The player is not alone in wanting to control the entire city though, as there are other gangs to compete with and bosses to cross. Whereas all out warfare is often the outcome, players can try their hand at diplomacy and sitdown with other gangsters and negotiate.

 


 
But often the bullets will start flying. This is where the action takes on a much more XCOM style. The players team, which may be made up of their boss and other hired mobsters, can make use of different types of cover, engage in overwatch, and spend points on both movement and their own special abilities in a familiar fashion. Different classes of mobster will give players options, and they each have their own inventories that allow for different weapons or helpful items. They also each level up much the same as the boss and can then learn new abilities or buffs.

 
Each area of Empire of Sin comes with issues though. While the empire building side of the game is quite deep, it can be overwhelming as the player juggles new missions, some of which are time sensitive, along with money coming in, alcohol demand, rival gangs and the police. As the game progresses and the player opens more and more businesses, it is understandable that it will get heavy going, but it can even be overwhelming in the early game. The diplomacy can be frustrating as the AI seems to flip from one approach to another. The AI also has some issues during the combat, and the lack of variety in combat areas does lad to some repetition. The biggest issue with Empire of Sin at this time comes down to the UI. As it is right now, it feels clumsy and unwieldy, presenting the player with too much information and not enough at the same time. The good news is that Empire of Sin is the sort of game that will evolve over time through various patches and DLC, and will likely be a very different game six months down the line.

 


 
I have no doubt that Empire of Sin will become the go to game for prohibition-era empire building, and that in itself means it is worth hopping into for any would-be Al Capone. Right now, the game is not quite there though. Still, anyone wanting to begin their journey into speakeasies, indulge in some XCOM battles, and gaining control of Chicago could always get started while the developers inevitably polish the experience.

 

 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 



 

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