Forget XCOM, Empire of Sin is like gangster Total War

June 28, 2019
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Empire of Sin is rightfully getting some buzz. You’ve probably already heard this is the game Brenda Romero “always wanted to make”, who’s said she’s been biding her time on the idea “for 20 years”. The result of Brenda’s long-standing love of mobster games, XCOM, and Civilization, Empire of Sin’s drawn comparisons with some of publisher Paradox Interactive’s biggest names, as well as those big hitters of the entire genre, too.

On the surface, that’s exactly what it looks like: Civ on top, as you manage resources and tiles, and XCOM when you get up close. But the sense I got from seeing it in action – hands off, mind – was that if we’re going to be name-dropping any other big, strategic PC franchise, it should really be Total War.

You’ll start out having to choose a faction, with a certain character as the faction leader, as well as the actual scale of mob feud you’re after. This means choosing how many neighborhoods and rival bosses you want to face off against. My demo actually had a great, seemingly organic “woah” moment where we zoomed out from street view to an overview of the entire district, which I thought was the whole game, until we zoomed out to another level of abstraction to view the whole city, with multiple, detached districts of 1920s Chicago in sight (three playable in my case, but with more possible).

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