It's absolutely inevitable that Midway and Surreal's This Is Vegas will be compared to the vistas of Rockstar's GTA IV. And why wouldn't it? GTA pioneered the sandbox format and will probably revolutionise it once again come April when the game arrives. Everything that has come since then and dabbles in the mechanics of open-world, sandbox-styled gameplay is likened to GTA.
Unfairly or not. This Is Vegas, however, is the complete opposite to GTA's IV's world. Hugely vibrant, massively detailed and insanely colourful, Vegas is a neon soaked open-worlder with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, a handful of change in its back pocket and a bottle of beer in the other ready for a night out on the lash in the world's greatest party capital. Why someone hasn't already thought of this is beyond us.
High roller, low roller
Rolling into the city on a cruddy bus with just fifty bucks nestled in your back pocket, you meet your old pal Joey Nissan and thus begins your zany story - a series of Looney schemes and a battle with a ruddy great bastard by the name of Preston Boyer who wants to turn the naughty city of Vegas into a family-friendly place akin to an extra sugar-coated version of that horrible place they call Disneyland. Eh?
So your mission, whether you choose to accept or not is to put the 'Sin' back in Sin City. And accept it you will as you party, gamble, fight, drive and party a little more in a dedicated effort to become the coolest cat in town.
Behind closed doors
The gaming world has been speculating for some time over what Surreal has been busy cooking up, but this month PSW got the chance to fly to Seattle to meet the team and snag a first look at this interesting move forward for the developer who were last seen scaring the living bejesus out of us with their brilliant and bloody terror trips, The Suffering and its shit-the-bed sequel.
Ushered through their plush new offices overlooking the shore of Elliot Bay and the Olympic mountain range in Seattle, PSW was treated to a peak at what's in store when Vegas hits PS3 later in the year. Working from a pyramid scheme of sorts, studio head Alan Patmore explains to us how the dev team breaks down the game and wants players to be able to picture it.
The bottom tier is comprised of the open world, hyper-realistic aspect of the gameplay mechanic in a simulated Vegas (you won't find real-life casinos here, rather alternate spins on classic gambling spots - more later) comprising combat missions, driving and 'Gigs' - side missions that earn you rep with the various Vegas factions (see boxout).
The second tier is Vegas Style - classic Vegas setpieces - made up of those stories and crazy urban legends that have filtered down over the ages. Mix these up with gambling, a slew of customization options, plenty 'wink wink, nudge nudge' moments and you've got the second serving of ingredients Surreal have added to this silly soup.
Top it all off with a huge lashing of partying including dancing, bouncing and party pick-ups - and you've got an idea of what Patmore and his crew are up to over the Emerald City.
This is going to be loud and proud gaming all the way and nobody is apologizing for the lewd or crude humour. And all of this is penned by the one-man gag machine, comedy scribe Jay Pinkerton who headed up Cracked magazine and National Lampoon.com (check him out at www.jaypinkerton.com) before moving to the world of games. Vegas is his maiden voyage.
Expect a heady blend of tasteless gags, jock humour and machine-gunned one-liners guaranteed to poke fun at all the right (and wrong) targets.