Developer: Steel Monkeys
Release Date: TBA 2008
The Grand Theft Auto franchise has had a huge influence on third-person action games in recent years. On one front, the GTA gameplay formula is everywhere now, with almost every title turning into yet another clone. On the other hand, even games that aren't trying to play like GTA still often do their best to look and feel like it. It is, understandably, the gold standard in the marketplace, and being able to win even a slice of that fan base is a huge coup for any developer. Steel Monkeys is trying to get their piece of the pie with 2 Days to Vegas , a game about family, fast cars and racing the clock to save someone you love.
In Vegas , you play as Vinny, an ex-con who just wants to go straight and live the American dream. That's not going to happen though, as your little brother has gotten involved in the mob while you were put away, and he's managed to get in over his head. Vinny gets word that his little bro is going to be dead in two days, and big brother must get from New York City to Las Vegas if he hopes make it in time. What follows is a lot of gunplay, peppered with car chases and mad dashes to make it to The Strip.
Where Vegas differs significantly from a lot of the modern action franchises is that this is not the open-world sandbox you've come to expect. Vinny is on a specific mission, and time is of the essence, so he doesn't have time to go sightseeing along the way. That's not to say you have no freedom; far from it. While the list of missions may be linear, you are given a free hand in how you complete them. Basically, you're told to make it to point X as quickly as you can, lest bad things happen. The developers have stated that there won't be a little timer ticking down as you go through the missions, but they were coy with details. When pressed, they just said that if you don't make it somewhere quickly, you may get a phone call demanding you hurry up, and then if you continue to dawdle, you'll likely receive a second or third call that is far less pleasant.
The developers have also promised that missions will stretch out between cities, and you may find yourself driving from New York City to Chicago in order to complete a task. Thus far, NYC, Chicago and Las Vegas will all be playable cities, and all will be accessible at any given time, supposing you are willing to actually get in a car and drive there. Obviously, the routes between cities will be considerably shortened, and I'm hopeful that there is some action out on the open roads because a transitional level that does little more than remind me of my morning commute isn't going to fly.
Thus far, the visuals are looking very nice, with special kudos going to the facial animations. The characters' faces all look quite realistic while talking, and the team displayed a tech demo showing Vinny quite convincingly mouthing the words to some of Hollywood's greatest mob movies. If this level of detail goes into the whole package, then the title may just conjure up some cinema-worthy moments.
The big challenge facing 2 Days to Vegas is differentiating itself from all the other GTA -style games that have come before it. The linear, somewhat frantic gameplay will be welcomed by those gamers who are driven by story, but it may turn off many who see the true joy in action games to be the ability to go where you want, when you want, and causing destruction all along the way. A playable demo should be coming soon, so when we get our hands on it, we'll let you know if the gameplay is solid enough to provide a fun and worthwhile experience. In the meantime, if you're planning on going to Las Vegas, be careful who you do business with; I'd hate for Vinny to have to come rescue you, too.