With Grand Theft Auto 4 putting sandbox games back on the map, it was only a matter of time until the genre exploded again, with numerous such titles arriving in its wake to herald a new dawn for games that valued exploration and freedom over more tightly constructed narrative experiences.
We saw plenty of these titles indeed, from the wacky and more simplistic Saints Row, to expeimental ideas such as The Saboteur which painted a greyer picture on the genre, through to the destruction and carnage of the Crackdown games.
But one other title that looked like a worthy rival to the godfather of the sandbox genre, was This is Vegas, a vibrant and colourful opposite to the somber mood of its main inspiration, set in Sin City.
What was it about?
As a newcomer to the party capital of America, players would have embarked on a series of schemes and crazy get rich quick ideas with their in-game buddy Joey Nissan, getting up to all kinds of shenanigans, while also putting a stop to the plans of Preston Boyer, a man who had the most evil plan of all time for the den of gambling and drinking.
Turning it into a family friendly city, only with extra sugar! In order to stop that heinous crime from ever happening, players had to fight, drink and gamble like their very lives depended on it, or risk seeing Las Vegas disneyfied to hell and back.
How would it have played?
Developed by Surreal Software, the team behind the pants-wettingly terrifying The Suffering games, Like most sandbox games, players would be free to drive around around Vegas, fighting and exploring cleverly renamed landmarks and hubs.
On top of that however, players would also engage in classic Vegas pursuits, such as gambling and taking part in the storyline, which would be made up of urban legends and crazy events, while more lewd humour unapologetically filtered its way through.
But it wasn’t shock humour for the sake of shock humour, as This is Vegas had a number of witty jokes, moments and rapid-fire one-liners that padded the ludicrous setup quite well actually.
Players could even try their hands at various Vegas jobs, such as bartending and parking cars in order to have some level of realism, but for the most part, This is Vegas was an unhinged beast that prided itself on being a strange, uninhibited take on the genre.
This is Vegas was essentially the love-child of Oceans 11 and Anchorman, a brainy yet crude adventure into the weirder side of Sin City, complete with high-speed driving, fist-fights and shoot-outs, a solid looking title for those of us who loved to pass time in a massive environment.
What went wrong?
Like all the ambitious ideas in life, This is Vegas ran out of money, which isn’t too difficult to consider when you realise that it was owned by Midway games, who had gone bankrupt back in 2009.
After having sunk between $40-$50 million on the game, Midway was just plain broke, and had to be bailed out by Warner Bros, who put the brakes on development, effectively ending the game in August 2010.
A real pity, as This is Vegas could have been a game that gave the sandbox genre a more tongue-in-cheek attitude, instead of the usual grim and weary attitude that is currently found in the majority of titles.
Last Updated: April 2, 2012