Earlier today, during a meeting with Midway and Surreal Software, we had an opportunity to check out the latest trailer for This Is Vegas. Watching the trailer on a laptop while sitting in the back of a parked limousine was far from ideal, but the brief presentation still served its purpose--showing off the caricature of Las Vegas that you'll be free to explore in the game. Like Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV, the gameworld in This Is Vegas is a scaled-down and tweaked-for-gameplay re-creation of the real-world city that it's based on, but if you've ever visited Sin City, you'll certainly recognize it.
The most obvious landmarks in Vegas, of course, are the giant hotels that line the strip, and while none of the real names are used in This Is Vegas, the hotels in the game really look the part. The Luxor has been renamed Mayan, Paris is now Palais, and Circus Circus is now Big Top, to name but a few. You'll be free to explore the whole of Vegas as soon as you start playing, and that doesn't just mean the picture-postcard areas. The modern strip and the "old Vegas" area of Fremont St. are both in the game, alongside residential areas, malls, and a large expanse of desert. You won't be able to go everywhere though, because as is generally the case in Vegas, you need to be a VIP to get into the best places--or at least into the most exclusive and expensive ones. Money isn't everything in This Is Vegas, however, and even if you choose to spend hours gambling and amass a fortune before you dive into the narrative, you'll find that a lot of doors are still closed to you because you've yet to earn a reputation.
This Is Vegas' unusual storyline casts you in the role of a newcomer to the city armed with only $50. The city is in danger of being taken over by a fast-food tycoon who wants to make it more family-friendly, and your goal will ultimately be to stop him and ensure that it remains a decadent adult-oriented holiday destination rather than another Disneyland. People on the street will hail you as a hero as you progress through the game, and we're told that ultimately you'll end up owning at least one of Vegas' prestigious casinos.
As you'd expect from a game that bears more than a passing resemblance to the likes of GTA and Saints Row, This Is Vegas will feature plenty of optional missions and activities that are completely independent of the story. These will include drinking, dancing, and gambling. But what if you've already lost all of your money at a poker table? No worries. There are paying "gigs" that you can undertake, and as far as we know, none of them involve flipping burgers, handing out leaflets on the strip, or parking cars. Rather, gigs will include street racing, underground pit fighting (which can ultimately lead to your becoming a big-name VFC fighter playing in front of big crowds), and working as a vigilante taking down muggers and such (which we're told can see you transform into a superhero known simply as Vegas Man).
A lot of these promised features sound great, so it's a little disappointing that Midway and Surreal Software decided not to show any of them here at the 2008 Games Convention. This Is Vegas won't be arriving in stores until sometime in 2009, though, so there's plenty of time for us to bring you more information on this one going forward.