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What Critics Are Saying About Empire Of Sin

Romanticizing Prohibition era gangsters is not a new concept — since the 1930s, many films have centered on these legendary figures, such as the movie The Public Enemy starring classic film actor, James Cagney (Grapefruit, anyone?). Indie studio Romero hoped to cash in on the longevity of the gangster genre 90 years later with its release of the strategy based game, Empire of Sin, out Dec 1.

In Empire of Sin, players must build their criminal empire from the ground up in 1920s Chicago. They do this by acquiring a number of speakeasies, brothels, and other illegitimate businesses, and then fighting to keep them safe from rival gangsters and the law. Players can also hire thugs to join their gang, and each comes with their own unique personality and characteristics.

The hired help in Empire of Sin isn't just for show. According to Eurogamer and PC Gamer, there is a lot of drama that happens behind the scenes. "Some love each other, some hate each other," wrote Eurogamer. "Some are better drunk than sober. Some are courageous and others timid." These traits can directly affect the character's performance in the game, as PC Gamer's Fraser Brown attested. "Every boss and gangster starts with traits inspired by their background, and then more get piled on as they fall in love, get hooked on the hooch or brutally execute a bunch of people," said Brown. "These can change how they fight, and how suited they are to leadership roles."

While these critics found Empire of Sin's cast of characters and their traits entertaining, they bemoaned the business management system's lack of depth. Eurogamer felt that upgrading each business venture was too time consuming, while PC Gamer said that they had trouble summoning any interest in the investments at all. As for combat, the player can initiate a gang war with rival bosses — however, according to PC Gamer, these battles are seemingly unbalanced, and the combat altercations "forgettable." 

"Some abilities are so powerful that you can end a battle in one attack," wrote Brown, "and you'll quickly get unique weapons that eradicate any remaining challenge. The balance is just wildly off, leaving little reason to think tactically."

Reviewer Luke Plunkett from Kotaku summed up their own Empire of Sin experience: "I really wanted to like this game. But as hard as it tries, and as much fun as it has with the source material, Empire of Sin is a mess of ideas that just isn't much fun to be around."

With scores ranging everywhere from a glowing 90 to a dismal 49/100, it seems Empire of Sin, much like the characters who populate it, doesn't always hit its target.