John Romero is literally a living legend of gamedev. The father of Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM , wit and joker, one of the first rock stars in the gaming industry, a role-playing model for several generations of developers, and for some, just an idol whose status nothing can shake. Despite the fact that his career cannot be called impeccable, especially in the 21st century. The disastrous Daikatana was followed by years of work on small crafts like games for Nokia N-Gage and F95zone. An underground empire simulator set in Prohibition Chicago Empire of SinIs perhaps Romero’s most ambitious project in 20 years. And, unfortunately, a vivid illustration of how a rock star’s attempt to return to the stage after a long hiatus can turn out to be a failure.
Empire of Sin can be roughly divided into three unequal components – the construction of a criminal empire with the seizure of territories, the passage of story quests and tactical battles. The latter take up most of the progress of the game and are its main problem. The combat system is based on the XCOM modelwith turn-based gunfights and cover, but in such a primitive form that it becomes awkward to put these games in a row. After the recent Wasteland 3, the casual post-shots from Empire of Sin just look pathetic.
The turn of each fighter is limited to two action points, which are spent on moving, attacking and using a poor set of skills. The player’s task essentially boils down to taking cover and choosing weapons. There is simply no room for thinking through some serious tactics, as well as for mistakes. And there are a lot of fights, and they all look alike like two drops of bootlegging whiskey. Opponents do not please with either variety or intelligence, which is why you have to keep in mind, first of all, their number, and not features. Whoever acts against you, all enemies behave almost the same.
Worse, the battles are not only offensively primitive, monotonous, but monstrously drawn out. The animation of the attack can take several seconds, and each gangster before the shot strives to slowly look out of cover or even dance some kind of ballet movement. And in a firefight, one and a half dozen units, including neutral observers, can easily take part, and each move as a result stretches, and stretches, and stretches … will climb into options in the hope of speeding up or turning off animations. Where another bummer awaits him – the developers did not foresee such an opportunity.
And the worst thing that can happen to you in HuniePop 2 is a raid by bandits of a rival company on an institution under your control. And the point is not that you can lose a property that generates a solid income. And the fact that you, most likely, for several minutes will have to watch as superior enemy forces will shoot a couple of your unlucky guards, now and then missing point blank or trying to shoot through walls. As soon as you see the balance of power on the battlefield, the outcome of the collision is often clear, but the player can be separated from it by several very long and painful minutes. And this is almost the worst thing that can be said about a game with such a focus on combat.
Empire building is mechanically less painful, but no less dull. On the one hand, Empire of Sin invites you to monitor many variables at once: the level of criminal activity in the districts, the relations of factions, the supply of alcohol, the requests of the townspeople, and much more. It is assumed that the player must react to changes in all these indicators and pump his own possessions in accordance with the situation. In fact, it is almost impossible to make a mistake here. Unless you are trying to purposefully destroy everything that you managed to build. I tried it once – at least some kind of entertainment. Even if you don’t keep track of something, in the case when your empire managed to get back on its feet even a little, the financial consequences of any miscalculation will seem just a drop in the ocean. In other words, you will still make money and expand your influence. Just a little slower.
Have competitors recaptured a rich casino? It doesn’t matter, during this time you will have time to capture three. Does the quality of the alcohol from your cellar not meet the needs of the masses? Nothing, eat up and cheap swill. Empire of Sin is categorically not demanding on the player, and sometimes it starts to seem like a fundamental decision of the creators – even a cook here can rule the underworld! But in the end, neither a serious strategy nor a casual managerial simulator comes out of the game. For the former, she lacks the balance and severity of the consequences of the player’s choice. And to perceive the development of Romero Games as a relaxed management and a competitor to city-planning simulators from mobile phones is hindered by a lack of pace of development and constant obstacles in the form of all the same elementary, but drawn-out battles.
But worst of all are the bugs that make the continuation of the game technically impossible. In 12 hours in Empire of Sin, I had to deal with something like this a dozen times. Sometimes your units simply cease to obey you – you can move around the world map, but you cannot interact with anything. Sometimes the taken quest simply does not move further, despite the fact that you have fulfilled the condition necessary for its completion. During skirmishes, the game from time to time seems to freeze between the moves of two units and does not allow either to continue the battle or to load. A bandit hired for a substantial amount can easily disappear from the card forever without any reason.
In short, the main strategic advice for a beginner in this game is to save more often and in different slots. It’s hard to say that the developers will have time to fix the above with the patch of the first day, but Empire of Sin, in the form in which we were able to play it, is one of the most bugged releases of the year.