This is Vegas Updated Hands-on

When you locate a troublemaker, you simply go over there and mash the attack button to punch the guy’s lights out. We squared off against three “cheesy bachelors” and had no trouble at all dispatching them. The most interesting thing that happened was that we got a club security guard to get in a fight with one of the “cheesy bachelors.” Because there is no targeting system, it is easy to accidentally punch random people who happen to be nearby during the fight. When you punch an innocent person, club security comes after you with nightsticks and you’re forced to run away till the heat dies down. This is Vegas employs a system nearly identical to GTA’s, Wanted Stars and all. So we accidentally punched a girl while beating up a “cheesy bachelor.” Club security showed up and entered the melee. The “cheesy bachelor” swung at us, but hit a security guard. The guard turned on the “cheesy bachelor” while we ran off and hid till the heat died down. When we returned to the area, the guard was still beating the “cheesy bachelor” with his night stick.

After partying it up, we were ready to try an all-out brawl. We played a short segment in front of one of the casinos, where a group of troublemakers had wrecked their car and were spoiling for a fight. Next, a group of rival private security guards wearing pink berets show up and attack your pal Frankie. Finally, a group of mascots emerge from the casino, one looking “not accidentally like the Sneak King,” and come after you. The fight mechanic was simplistic, consisting of three basic moves: attack, block, and grab/break. The attack is context sensitive, though we only saw punches and kicks. Fighting well charges up your Buzz Bomb meter, which gives you a one-punch KO when full. For a featured component of the game, fighting was a bit dry. However, quick cuts in the new trailer hint that boxing might make an appearance when more about the game is revealed.

The last portion of the demo focused on gambling and Advantage Play, or cheating. In blackjack, cheating will give you a hint as to the value of the dealer’s down card and the next card in the shoe. It only gives you a range, though, so you still have to think about your next move. Every time you cheat, your suspicion meter fills up. Cheat too much and you’ll be ejected (or in some cases taken out back and beaten senseless.) Though we didn’t get to play them, we’re told slot machines and Texas hold-em will also be available. One interesting twist is that you’ll be able to win a car from special promotional slot banks to keep at your home base. When quizzed further about the “home base,” we got the big No Comment so expect more news on that front closer to E3.

We keep hearing that This is Vegas is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek parody. In a culture overflowing with sarcasm, we can’t help but wonder if This is Vegas can pull it off. Midway has shown us several pieces of the puzzle, but we’ve still seen nothing of the driving or shooting (to avoid conflict with Wheelman?). And we’re still waiting for more info about story and character, the connective tissue that makes the world feel whole and makes you want to spend time there. We’re looking forward to learning more about how This is Vegas will stand out from the crowd in the sandbox.

Apr 18, 2008