You know what I’m sick of? The allusion that video games are still just child’s play.
Family-friendly mascots like Mario and Sonic are still around, but seriously, let’s have a look at the facts. The biggest selling entertainment properties on the planet include a series of hard-nosed military shooters, and football games that appeal to fans of all ages – American football or soccer, take your pick. If you still need more convincing, take a look at some games set in a place you definitely wouldn’t want to set your kids loose in – Las Vegas.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
At the time, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was one of the most ambitious undertakings ever seen in a game, featuring a huge open world with barely a loading screen in sight. Unlike its predecessors, it featured not one, but three entire cities to explore – including Las Venturas, which playfully riffs on Las Vegas.
From warring mafia families to spoof casino names (Caligula’s Palace, The Four Dragons Casino), the game’s tone straddles a perfect balance between reverence and mockery – and it goes without saying that you can gamble your time away in some of the Strip’s casinos. Unlike its fellow San Andreas city Los Santos (which is based on Los Angeles), Las Venturas will not be reappearing in the upcoming sequel Grand Theft Auto V – but perhaps it’ll get a spin-off game of its own some day.
Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Bethesda has a reputation for creating brilliantly engrossing worlds, and their take on the Mojave Desert in Fallout: New Vegas is no exception. Set in a post-apocalyptic landscape over 200 years after a nuclear war, the game sees a number of different factions vying for control of the relatively unscathed city of Las Vegas (rechristened as New Vegas) and the resources provided by the still-functioning Hoover Dam.
The player takes on the role of a courier who is robbed, then shot and left for dead, and the beauty of the story is that who to help and who to hinder is entirely at your discretion. The game makes numerous clever references to real-world people and places – casino designs reflect those of actual Las Vegas buildings, early-game antagonist Benny is modelled on the infamous mobster Bugsy Siegal, and the mysterious leader of New Vegas, Mr. House, draws inspiration from reclusive property tycoon Howard Hughes.
Caesar’s Palace (1992)
Long before the internet would have a major impact on our lives, there were casino simulators on our good old fashioned gaming consoles. While you can look all the way back to the Atari 2600 game Casino in 1978 to find the earliest version, the first home console game to explicitly reference a Las Vegas property was Caesar’s Palace for the NES in 1992.
At the time these games might have given minors a pseudo-illicit chance to experience the thrill of gambling, but there’s not much point in revisiting them as an adult – these days you can get a much more in-depth experience thanks to online sites like Jackpot Capital Casino. Sometimes players have to grow up!
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas (2006)
Having already established itself as a niche hardcore shooter franchise, Rainbow Six got somewhat of an overhaul with 2006′s Rainbow Six: Vegas – playing down the tense tactical gameplay in favour of a more action-orientated approach.
While it may have been a little disappointing for fans of previous games in the series, it was still a great game, thanks to improved enemy AI and a slick control system – not to mention the juxtaposition of gritty realism with eye-popping, over-the-top visuals that captured Las Vegas to a tee.
Dead Rising 2 (2010)
Ever had the thought that what Vegas really needed was more zombies? Me neither, but Dead Rising 2 presents a fairly convincing case. Though Las Vegas is mentioned in the game’s storyline, the action actually takes place in the fictional location of Fortune City – which was built after a zombie outbreak caused the original Vegas to be sealed off and bombed to ruins.
Building on the original Dead Rising’s open-ended gameplay, Dead Rising 2 offered improved mechanics such as the ability to combine items to create lethal ‘combo weapons’ – from a crude spiked bat to a motorised wheelchair with a mounted machine gun. The addition of a money system also gave you another way to get your hands on the required items, as well as the opportunity to gamble in the city’s casinos – once you’ve cleared the zombies out of the way, of course.