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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

Gathering

 

Developer

Deep Red

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2004

 

 

- Deep strategy

- Sandbox mode is loads of fun

- Great presentation

 

 

- Interface kind of clunky

- No “undo” button

- The minutia can be tedious

 

 

Review: Railroad Tycoon 3 (PC)

Review: Fast Food Tycoon (PC)

 

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Vegas Tycoon

Score: 7.6 / 10

 

If there’s one genre that has received a bad, bad rep it’s the “Tycoon” genre.  Most of the early Tycoon games were so awful that it poisoned the rest of the genre.  Now each Tycoon game has to first overcome the “Tycoon” moniker.  And I should know.  The last website I wrote for fobbed off every Tycoon game on me, so I have a wide range of experience – from the good ones (Zoo Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon 3) to generally inept ones (Skateboard Part Tycoon).  But onto Vegas Tycoon

 

vegas tycoon review          vegas tycoon review

 

Having never been to Las Vegas, all my impressions come from other media sources, like the movies Casino and Mars Attacks! and the TV show Las Vegas.  While there’s less drama and violence than those examples, Vega Tycoon (VT) turns out to be an engrossing experience nonetheless.

 

At its core, VT is about building an amusement park on the Vegas strip.  Besides building the ever-important casino and theme hotel, you can build a wide variety of shops, attractions and services to bring people in and make sure they leave your lot with only lint in their pockets.  Related to this is making sure you place your sidewalks efficiently and make sure there’s enough foliage and glitz in the area to be appealing as possible.  This should be familiar to anyone who has played a Tycoon game.  Where VT departs from those other games is the control you have over your casino, the only building type that you can enter and customize to maximize the amount of dollars you pull in.  This might be the most engrossing part of the action – designing your casino from slot machines and high stakes poker games, to the more mundane necessities such as washrooms and security.  It’s all done in an effort to keep the highrollers coming back (or attracting whatever 

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demographic you’d like to target).  But designing the interior of your casino is made a lot tougher than it needs to be for a few reasons.

 

Not being able to “undo” anything is quite aggravating.  You have to be extremely careful where you place things because once it’s on the floor; it’s there to stay.  At least you can sell an item to remove it, but at half the price you paid it’s not something you want to do often.  (If there is 

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an undo button it may be buried somewhere in the chunky interface – it takes three or four clicks to do anything.)  Another problem has to do with the micromanagement involved, in the casino especially.  You can affect everything in one way of another, and sometimes it’s not readily apparent how your choices will affect the things around it, namely, the flow of people.

 

 Like most other Tycoon games, VT is all about bringing in money to expand your operations so you can make more money (and so on).  VT is an unforgiving bastard when it comes to cash flow.  There’s no option to acquire a loan to add a multiplex so you can attract more guests – VT leaves it up to your savings account!  If you run out of money… well, that’s Vegas for you (and a quick ticket to the "Load" screen).  One major slip-up can completely mess up your strategy or chance of success in the campaign missions.

 

vegas tycoon review          vegas tycoon review

 

This is what makes Sandbox mode more appealing since you can set global variables such as starting cash and population.  While this doesn’t have the directed action of the Campaign mode, some will surely appreciate it, because some of the Campaign missions are hard – jumpin’-mackeral-on-a-Tuesday hard.

 

I’m told that the Vegas strip at night is a huge glitzy affair.  VT does a fantastic job bringing that glitz home with an extremely versatile engine.  You can view the world from a blimp or zoom in on floor tiles – all in one continuous motion while you appreciate the light and constantly moving sea of people and cars.  You’re even treated to weather effects and time of day changes.  It’s good-looking game and the accompanying sounds are top notch, too.  (While you’re in the casino, close your eyes for a minute and you can almost taste the pumped-in oxygen or at the least feel like you’re in the middle of a casino.)

 

Overall, Vegas Tycoon is well above average for a Tycoon game (although not quite as accessible as a game like Railroad Tycoon 3) and can stand on its own as a regular game.  It has its own learning curve, no undo button and a buried interface, but the creative aspects and polish makes VT a recommended title for fans of Tycoon games.

 

- D.D. Nunavut

(March 17, 2004)

 

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