Las Vegas is often referred to as the city that never sleeps. How ironic it is that Vegas Party has the direct opposite effect. I quite enjoy the party game genre. We’ve seen some truly decent titles coming from it, Jackbox and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes to name just two. On the flip-side, we’ve seen some pretty awful ones too. The latest to take to that proverbial mantle is this heap of uninteresting junk. I never judge a game based on the first hour of play, but here, I had Vegas Party sussed out from the get-go. Undeterred, I then put a further four hours into it.
Having spent a total of five hours in this over-the-top version of Las Vegas city, I can safely say that I’ve seen and done everything that I can possibly stretch myself to endure. Though, to be fair, the game’s ten mini games can be played through in a matter of minutes via the Quick Play mode, but that would be cutting out its Mario Party-esque main event. Vegas Party can be played either solo against three CPUs, or with up to three other local players. The game offers a number of modes to take to from the main menu; Quick Play, Competition, and The Strip.
Getting the simplest of modes out of the way first. Quick Play allows you to play any one of its ten mini games, ranging; darts, bingo, black jack, roulette and so forth. Competition, on the other hand, pits you against all of these modes in random order, with the player that scores the most points throughout, taking top spot. The Strip, however, is the game’s main event. This plays out much like (but much lower in quality) Mario Party. Players will select an avatar from a pool of ugly, low detailed characters, and then head off to start the board game-like mode.
Everyone begins at the same point of origin with a pool of chips that will be used as in-game currency. The board is padded with different tiles that represent different mechanics. There’s tiles that will see you losing your chips to other players, tiles that will grant you extra dice rolls and tiles that will send you into differently themed casinos to play one of its ten mini-games. Players will take turns rolling the dice and doing everything that they can to either steal from or beat the opposition. On paper, it sounds like a great deal of fun. Sadly in practice, not so much.
Take the board that players play on, for example. Each will take turns rolling the dice in order to proceed the set number of tiles depending on the number rolled. Doing so will gradually see each player moving up the board, taking on the aforementioned mini-games and landing on tiles that will trigger specific outcomes. The main drawback here is that the board seems to be catered towards giving you as much grief as possible. This wouldn’t usually be a bad thing, in fact, some would argue that it’s the very nature of play, but here, it feels far too punishing.
There’s tiles that will swap you out with opposition position, tiles that will split your chips with someone else, tiles that will rob you of chips in bulk, tiles that will rob you of chips for six rounds straight, and several more like-minded tiles that serve only to annoy. Again, it’s a party game and these triggers are to be expected, but there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of balance between helpful tiles and tiles that want to ruin your day. Instead, the majority of play sees the game acting like a complete asshole whenever it gets the opportunity to do just that.
To help you along, though, the occasional chip or dice icon will appear on the screen and if you can navigate your target to it in time and shoot it, you’ll earn a few extra chips and some added moves to go on top of your next roll, respectively. Nevertheless, each run the The Strip is based largely on beating your opposition to the end. When you’re not fighting against the board’s ill humor or its evil habits, you’ll be engaging in one of the previously alluded to mini-games. Let me tell you, Vegas Party doesn’t get any better here, just slightly more fun, ever so slightly.
Whenever a player lands on a casino tile, they’re afforded the ability to select between one of three modes, taken from the ten in total, and will then be transported to a daftly named casino. Here, regardless of the mode, players will battle it out to reach top spot. The problem, however, is that the majority of these modes are just not at all fun. Darts and bingo are arguably the only modes that present any form of excitement at all. The rest of the modes either don’t make sense or just feel out of place for a game that has players sharing the screen.
In darts, players will take turns throwing three darts at the board. I’m not sure whether there’s a been a climate change in Vegas, but it seems as though everyone is freezing their pants off due to the dart wildly moving when trying to aim. Nevertheless, the goal is to rid yourselves of the allocated points before anyone else. Simple stuff, indeed, but passable nonetheless. Bingo, on the other hand, sees everyone starting down a table. Here, players will need to move a cursor to select from a range of numbered balls, should that number match to their bingo cards.
These numbered balls will frequently pop-in and pop-out of view, so it pays off to hit them fast. Again, relatively simple stuff. For me, these mini-games made the most sense and despite only being fun the first few times, they’re the best the game has to offer, make of that what you will. The rest are either poorly crafted or just don’t fit in. Take slots, for example, which has you and your opposition selecting a row on the front of the slot machine. When this is done, you pull the arm and whoever has a winning row, will score points depending on that row’s score slider.
If anything, it’s a game of chance and at no point amounts to any skill whatsoever. It’s boring, it feels tacked on and unnecessary. Then there’s the likes of black jack. This game is a game of cognitive might, one that largely consists of tempting your opposition into believing that you have a good/bad hand, regardless as to the hand that you actually have. This point becomes pretty much non-existent when the game shows everyone each other’s cards from the get-go, making for a senseless, pointless game that just doesn’t fit the theme nor mood of the activity.
I could go on and on, and highlight the cons of each mini-game, but I’d be wasting not only my time, but yours too. Take my word for it, the majority of them fail miserably to replicate the fun of their real world counterparts. The bottom line in all of this is that if you’re looking for a decent party game, there are far better offerings available on the store. Vegas Party will not make for a fun session with your nearest and dearest. It doesn’t help matters that the audio and visual design is about as dated and as poorly structured as they come. Pass this one by folks.
Vegas Party attempts to serve up a fun party experience that shares a theme and a collection of games found in its titular location. The problem is that each mode within is padded with games that feel poorly structured or tacked on, further grouped with horrendous designs and very dated visuals. Much like how gambling works in real life, if you throw your money at this, the only winner here is the developer.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.