Em­pire Of Sin

Prov­ing that even 1920s mob­sters are peo­ple too

XBox: The Official Magazine - - PREVIEW - Robin Valen­tine

“Ev­ery mob­ster you re­cruit comes with their own per­son­al­ity and quirks”

Pub­lisher Para­dox in­ter­ac­tive De­vel­oper romero games ETA sum­mer 2020

The phrase ‘his­tor­i­cal strat­egy’ no doubt con­jures a cer­tain set of im­ages in your mind – me­dieval kings, Ro­man le­gionar­ies, world maps where all the coun­tries are dif­fer­ent colours. What it prob­a­bly doesn’t make you think of is Al Capone.

Old Scar­face him­self is one of 14 playable mob bosses in Em­pire Of Sin, which chal­lenges you to pick your prob­lem­atic 1920s fave and take over Pro­hi­bi­tion-era Chicago. On the city map, you man­age your net­work of il­le­gal busi­nesses – broth­els, speakeasie­s, casi­nos, and more. When the go­ing gets rough and blood needs spilling, you zoom into street level for turn-based com­bat.

But what re­ally makes the game stand out isn’t its dis­tinc­tive set­ting or crim­i­nal flavour, its the depth of its ran­domly-gen­er­ated char­ac­ters. Ev­ery mob­ster you re­cruit comes with their own per­son­al­ity and quirks. Over time, de­pend­ing on how you treat them and what jobs you send them out to do, they’ll adapt and change.

“A char­ac­ter that per­forms a few ex­e­cu­tions can be­come cruel,” says game de­signer Ian O’Neill, of­fer­ing an ex­am­ple. “Now other mem­bers of your crew might not want to work with cruel char­ac­ters, or over time, if a cruel char­ac­ter con­tin­ues to per­form ex­e­cu­tions, they might turn into some­thing even worse, they might ac­tu­ally turn into a se­rial killer. It’s re­ally dif­fi­cult to tell a se­rial killer what to do, and it can be pretty dan­ger­ous to leave them alone with other mem­bers of your crew.”

Boss fight

Char­ac­ters even have pre-ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships with other peo­ple in the world. Your new hired gun might have a few friends liv­ing nearby – with a good word from her, they’ll be eas­ier to re­cruit. She might have a lover who wants her to leave her life of crime, do­ing what­ever he can to pro­tect her from your in­flu­ence. Or maybe she’s go­ing out with some­one from a ri­val gang – if they meet in bat­tle, they might refuse to fire on one another… or per­haps her loy­alty to you will win out, and she’ll be­tray him, leav­ing her for­ever changed by the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“They’re not the same char­ac­ters at the end of the game that you started with when you re­cruited them,” says John Romero – yes, the co-cre­ator of Doom – who’s work­ing on the project along­side its lead, his wife Brenda. “All the in­ter­ac­tions, I think, make it way more in­ter­est­ing and com­plex than just a pure strat­egy game.”

It’s a clever ap­proach, recre­at­ing the power fan­tasy of build­ing your own crim­i­nal en­ter­prise while at the same time fo­cus­ing on the hu­man drama that is the heart of ev­ery great mafia tale. Looks like Em­pire Of Sin is mak­ing us an of­fer we can’t refuse.

Below Most of the playable bosses in the game are real mob­sters from the era.

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