Reviewed: March 26, 2004
Released: January 19, 2004
Itís time to stop playiní wit the little kids and move up in the world. Youíve mastered all those other tycoon games and you want something wit a little more action. You want rival land developers to know they shouldnít be horniní in on your action (Speakiní of whichÖ Hey, Guido! Címere! I got a job for you). You want to own hotels, casinos, restaurants, clubs, and, if I know you, some spicier entertainment. You want it all wit the works too. None of this low-ball, back alley stuff. Nah, not you. You want pizzazz, you want some style, you want neon so bright itís got its own IQ. You, my friend, are ready for Vega$.
Vega$ Tycoon features:
Vega$ Tycoon doesnít work out quite like youíve been set up by the mafia to open a casino, but it is nearly as fun. You buy your land, open hotels, casinos, restaurants, etc., and start raking in the dough. As you build more you can open up bigger hotels and casinos, install new attractions, and generally put a good spit and polish on your property.
The controls are pretty typical of Global Star games, so itís a little awkward and less intuitive than most other games of this type, but otherwise serviceable and once you get used to it, there shouldnít be too many problems.
Everything else is pretty much what you expect from tycoon games, except the nice thing about this one is that there is an added level of complexity to this game. Instead of just letting you buy property and sticking different attractions and things on it, this game is also for casino tycoons. You can go into your casino and build it up from the ground too.
The controls here operate pretty much like building on your lot, except here you install slot machines, roulette, blackjack and other tables, bars, lounges, and so on. The only real problem you have to deal with is an efficient use of space, because you have to build the gambling tables and the upkeep for all of it in usually some very cramped space. Plan wisely or you may end up starting over very early.
Speaking of planning Vega$ requires very good spatial use because most often you have only one plot or two and you have to get a lot out of it. If you need more room, youíre out of luck. Also, the game amps up the difficulty pretty quickly, so you really need to pay attention to what youíre doing from the beginning.
Basically this isnít anything too far out of the mode of most tycoon gaming. My only real complaint is that the camera works well for most things, but moving in and out and focusing on a specific thing is a little more difficult and frustrating. This doesnít do anything to break the mold, but does use it quite well to instead make a fun little game.
I am by far the most impressed with Global Star for the graphics they managed to pull off here. You can tell in some places (specifically signs, people, and a few other details) that they really arenít using an amazing graphics engine. However, there are a wide variety of themes you can have for your casinos, from Greek Mythology, to Aztec, to Oriental. Not only that by what theme you chose also determines how your hotel looks, and what kind of lamps, statues, signs, and fountains you have.
That is all nice, not really amazing though the scale is sometimes to be admired. What is really impressive however is the lighting. There is neon everywhere and all of it in sparkling color. Nighttime is simply gorgeous. The decorative lamps you set up turn on, signs light up, and in general it looks exactly like you think it should for a game set in Vegas. Yours isnít the only place lit up either, and the farther you go the better things look.
Also, while the camera does have a few issues they gave you a fantastic range of motion with it. You want a screenshot of the front of your casino? No problem, especially because they built in the ability to do so. You want a birdís eye view of your land to properly plan how you want to build everything, also no problem. You want to get a good look at your customers, or that particular dancer? No problem. You want to see the inside of your topless revue after youíve upgraded it to offer lap dances? Sorry, the box says teen for a reason.
So pretty much aside from some pixilation and embarrassingly flat surfaces this game is like cotton candy for the eyes. Just donít look at the people too closely.
The music is absolutely generically perfect. Thereís no licensed music in the game, but they did a good job at getting a nice big band, Rat Pack sort of theme to the tunes that fits perfectly. Unfortunately it fades a little too much into the background and instead all you get is the droning of the crowds. Which on the one hand is a great sound effect, thereís a lot of variation to it, but it does drone on a little.
Ultimately thatís what makes the sound suffer the most, the good aspects are really good, but tend to get drowned out by some ok sound effects. Thereís nothing really terrible about the sound, just the balance is off.
Thereís a lot to like here: a wide variety of buildings and themes to mess around with, casino design, landscaping, and just plain wandering around looking at the pretty lights. There is a free play and 10 campaign levels (which get difficult quickly). If you like tycoon games, you really canít go wrong with Vega$.
Iíve never been too impressed with these types of games, and in general I thought Global Star was a boil on the backside of gaming. However they have managed to land a solid title that while it isnít perfect is a far sight better than Airport Tycoon 2 (trust me youíre better off not knowing).