Review – Empire of Sin (Switch)

Twenty years after the release of his latest console game, the infamous Daiktana, the one and only John Romero returns with a brand new game that can no longer differ from the games he has known so far. Instead of a high-octane shooter, there is Empire of Sin, a cross between an economic simulator and a turn-based strategy game set in Prohibition-era Chicago. The principle is interesting, the team behind it consists of several industry veterans, and there’s even a version of Switch I’m going to work with. We’ll see if Romero’s return to console gaming is worth celebrating or not.

I’ve heard about this man.

The first thing you have to do in Empire of Sin is select your budding Mafia boss. In addition to some real faces from the prohibition era, such as the good old Al Capone, you can also choose between different fictional characters to control. At this point you will be greeted by what is probably best about Empire or Sin, albeit unintentionally: his playing voice. It’s a classic case of so bad that it’s good, and I was all for it. I chose the head of the Italian Mafia for a simple reason: He looks like Joey looks like Friends. How’s it going?

Empire of Sin contains tons of game elements from different genres woven into one set, and this is probably the biggest, well, sin. You start as a nobody, a little gangster with a few bucks and a gun in his pocket, and it’s up to you to build your smuggling empire. To do this, you have to go through a large and extensive game booklet. There are too many things to do and follow, and you’ll soon be overwhelmed if you don’t pay attention to the tutorial, or even if you stop playing the game for a week or so and then decide to go back.

To be honest, the parts of the economic simulator are pretty boring. You have to pay attention to things like hiring employees, hiring subordinates, watching your cash flow, waiting a long time for one of the upgrades, and much more. It is very bulky and feels even worse due to the small Switch screen and the obvious lack of support for the mouse and keyboard. Nintendo did announce Sin Empire at one of its presentations at E3, but it’s mostly a PC game.

Empire of Sin is at its best when it is only a superficial but effective XCOM clone.

You can tell by the ugly look of the game on the Swap. I give the developers credit for releasing a few patches that improved the graphics a little, but it is still a typical case of port Switch that suffered a lot of bugs to work on the submerged hardware of this system. Outer worlds come to mind. The textures are ugly, the resolution is quite low, and loading the game takes a long time, even after the last patch is released. You can hear the little Switch fans shouting to compensate for the fact that the game punishes the CPU and GPU of the system.

That doesn’t mean Empire or Sin isn’t fun to play. The battle sections are actually the best, especially since they are largely derived from the XCOM. If it’s not broken, you don’t have to fix it, do you? That you do not have access to the mouse is not so obvious, and the design of the map, especially the alleys and old buildings, is actually quite good. I think Empire of Sin would be much better if it was a simple turn-based strategy game with an innovative theme and colour layer. Finally, it worked for Mario + Rage….

You thought the cyberpunk didn’t have enough time to load textures?

The Empire of Sin is in better shape than at launch, with some interface and performance fixes, but it’s still too much for the Switch. I’m not just talking about its still overwhelming power, but about the fact that it tries to be too many games all at once without ever exploring all possibilities to a reasonable degree. There’s a lack of concentration. Still, I think that on a PC, with improved graphics and controls, it would still be interesting. Don’t worry about the switch port. I’m glad that this challenging and mature game was released at the same time as other versions, but it’s much inferior in every way to its counterparts.

The textures and patterns have gone through some major setbacks to make the Sin Empire really work on the Switch. The game ended up looking pretty ugly, but it still had a great line-up. The XCOM combat system is interesting. Various business-oriented activities are also interesting. They don’t get along so well. The game has a lot of functions and menus, which makes it quite intimidating at first.
Sometimes the voice is so bad that it’s good, and sometimes it’s just bad. On the other hand, a jazz soundtrack is always a pleasure. The empire of sin has many great ideas, but it lacks focus. This is an attempt to be an exaggerated amount of gambling all at once. There is also the fact that it does not work well on Switch hardware.
Last block: 5.0

Empire of Sin is now available for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Appears when the power is turned on.

A copy of Sin Empire was made available by the publisher.


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