If there’s one place on earth I’d rather be, it’s Las Vegas. Ahh?the smell of the desert air. The temperature conditions only topped by sitting in the mouth of an active volcano. The beautiful neon lights, emitting cancerous radiation to all that walk the streets below. The sound of every poverty-stricken gambler, getting poorer with every bet he swears will be ?the one’.
The screams of anguish and pain after botched magic tricks with wild animals. The revelation that you’ve really won big, only when this guy on the street hands you a free porno magazine. Is there anything like it in the world? You can’t deny the all out American draw of Sin City. But, since I’m incapable of being there at this moment in time, I had to find a suitably raunchy substitute. Global Star and developer Deep Red answer such a personal emergency with Vegas Tycoon.
Vegas Tycoon offers the typical campaign challenges of the Tycoon variety, as well as a sandbox mode, where it’s a neon-engulfed free-for-all, for high rising and hotel/casino domination. Las Vegas is separated into street zone blocks, named after real Vegas streets. No authentic hotel chains are licensed, though there are strikingly familiar themes available. Select a street zone, and you’re presented with a few vacant real estate lots to purchase for building your evolutionary extravaganza. From the lowly beginnings of a roach motel, you can later choose to place theaters, hotels, casinos, bars, girlie cantinas, and virtually any other imaginable form of amusement venue you can envision.
It’s not all glitz and glory though, as you must garner various services for your buildings as well. Whether you’re striving to keep your creations from diminishing through the services of your maintenance staff, or attempting to lure the crowds with the beauty and charm of such landscaping details as palm trees, signs, and water fountains; there are inexhaustible ways to customize the adjoining areas.
Once you have built a minor casino, the opportunity of going inside it becomes available. This is where the real micro-management begins, as almost all your income is derived straight from the gambling tables. It’s here where you’ll set up your blackjack, slot machines, craps tables, and various other avenues of temptation for your patrons to los?um, expand their winnings. On top of building multi-tiered floor designs, decoration also plays a central part in bringing in the gambling masses. The amount of accessible tweaking is gargantuan, as you hire clerks, security guards, janitors, and even the ever popular, scantily clad, cocktail waitresses. You can even set the payback percentages of each slot machine! Regrettably, you can’t actually play any of the games, though in truth, you won’t have the additional time available to do so. Managing even the smallest of casinos is a hardy task, even after you’ve hired some rudimentary staff for assistance.
Vegas Tycoon has four different speed settings (counting ?pause’ as one of them), although I’ve found little use for anything faster than the slowest speed, and even that setting seems to crunch you for time. The sheer amount of micro-management in Vegas Tycoon far exceeds those found in SimCity, and subsequently leaves you precious little time to take pleasure in the vast array of graphic detail on offer. Seemingly trivial, but nevertheless impressive, elements such as reflective gold and brass statues, or the outlandish and rather eerie ?Joker-ish’ grin plastered on the faces of the people will be there to see, but not to dwell upon; the game mechanics demand the player’s absolute concentration throughout.
Vegas Tycoon offers endless amounts of customization and, while the core game consists of managing your casino, there is a lot of game play existing outside, on the lot, with your other hotels, theaters, clubs, and theme park rides. It’s heaps of fun merely walking around the streets, seeing how your creation stacks up against others on the gaudy Vegas skyline. Still, Vegas Tycoon practically offers almost too much, as you’re relentlessly trying to keep up with all the commerce and activity. A slower time option would have been vastly helpful in trying to deal with all the tweaking and settings of your casinos. Overall, you can effortlessly drop a huge chunk of time into this game, and that’s a good thing.
Global Star games aren’t commonly recognized for their high-end graphics, but this one, in fact, breaks that preconception. On one hand, the graphics are instantly spectacular, even from the main menu where a grandiose, neon emblazoned, hotel and casino sit in the backdrop. Being able to zoom smoothly from an airborne helicopter’s point of view, all the way down to ground level to check out wagging bunny tails on waitresses is a grand feat. There’s no doubt that Vegas Tycoon is at the top of the heap in the Tycoon (and even SimCity) genre. On the other hand, superior graphics are widely demonstrated in countless other types of games. I’d almost certainly have granted a slightly higher score for wiping the nightmare inducing evil grins off all the characters’ faces!
The audio really suffers here. If anyone reading this has ever traveled to (the real) Vegas, you can attest to the fact that it’s a very loud and noisy place. Though the game’s background music is passable, it becomes extremely repetitive, and almost never changes. Hearing people squeal at the top of their lungs when they (rarely) win big money, the ringing chimes of a jackpot, and the joyous clanging of falling coins into slot trays are a huge part of Vegas’ allure. It’s unfortunate that almost none of those sounds made it into the actual game. Just hearing crowd chatter growing loud and fevered as more people swarm the casino’s attractions would have been a huge environmental help. You do hear an occasional whimper of dissatisfaction, or an ecstatic winning exclamation, but mostly?it’s just incessant background music.
There are numerous scenarios offered, and a wide-open sandbox mode applied to each zone. With a good number of zones, and a few open plots of land in each, you could easily build every theme and type of hotel/casino offered. Along with its immense management options, and tons of items, Vegas Tycoon is not a game you’re going to tire of rapidly. However, once all the lots are complete, there’s little reason to clean them out, and start anew. The game was supposed to incorporate an editor; to fabricate your own buildings with, but I couldn’t locate it within my install, and it wasn’t available for download. If the editor is added later, then the capability to create new themes and buildings should extend Vegas Tycoon’s gaming shelf life considerably.
Regardless of its minor flaws, Vegas Tycoon is an admirable attempt at creating something besides a pure gambling game from the Las Vegas theme. For the most part, the game is put together exceedingly well, and it’s rather unfortunate that it probably won’t sell many units, despite the obvious effort in development. Still, I highly suggest giving it a go, particularly if you’re into the Tycoon type games or if you love the Las Vegas way of life, as it weighs in well above most others of its kind. I have to wonder though?how long before someone releases ?Tycoon Game Tycoon’?