Las Vegas, the city that bathes its visitors in the glow of a sea swelling with millions of neon lights, promising to fulfill just as many dreams and desires with a plethora of enticements tailor made for the likes of every walk of life that comes to breathe it in. Some arrive seeking to hear Lady Luck calling their name in the sound of the ringing slot machines, the clanking of the ball traveling round the roulette wheel or the dealer’s crisp flip of a poker card coming off the river. Others make their pilgrimage to hear the chimes of wedding bells with ceremonies made to order anywhere from the likes of a formal affair in a chapel to a drive-through ceremony officiated by Elvis (or at least a fair facsimile of Las Vegas’ dearly departed King). This oasis of a town is a gates-always-open adult amusement park where you can decide on how far and fast you are willing to ride on the elastic bounds of your own morality scale (or for some – the certain debauchery thereof) in searching for thrills and entertainment.
There’s endless stories that have been experienced in this city. Some are proudly retold and embellished like your grandfather’s army stories, while others are hoped to be left buried deep in the sands of the Mojave Desert only to be thought of when they creep their way back into their transgressor’s mind while enveloped in a cold sweat in the middle of a cringe filled, sleepless night. In the FMV game Vegas Tales, developed and published by FMV Interactive, this is the story of four very different sets of people who have come to Vegas for their own specific purposes. But what they all have in common is that they’ve worked or stayed at the Bellflower Casino Resort in Vegas, and that they’ve left a positive impression on its owner.
The owner of this resort is a gentleman you’ll be introduced to as Mr. Davenport. He has dedicated over thirty years of his life into the creation and nurturing of the continued success of his resort. Because of his devotion to his beloved hotel, he has never had time to start a family and also tells you that he has no close friends. He reveals that he has terminal cancer and needs your help with an important task. As the player of this game, you will get to be the judge and jury in helping to choose from the specified pool of aforementioned persons as to who will be the heir apparent to Mr. Davenport’s legacy.
Mr. Davenport, wonderfully portrayed by the actor Tim Russ who’s known for his work on Star Trek Voyager and Star Trek Generations, says he has brought you on to interview each candidate under the guise that you are making a book about the Bellflower. He tells you each person will be a willing participant since they are being given a generous stipend to take part in the interviews. As the interviewer, you will be asking questions, but really searching for who will make the best heir for the resort.
Mr. Davenport informs you that all of these candidates have a strong connection to the hotel in one manner or another. He briefly describes to you how he has met each individual while they stayed or worked at his hotel. He then tells you why each has made his list.
The player at this point begins to interview the group. This is where the real game play begins as you are being introduced to each character. Ashley, a magician who has performed an act at the Bellflower for a number of years, greets you with an intense stare and a self-assured, direct manner of speaking. She is not exactly what you’d call a people person, but she shares with you her often indirectly humorous and at times absurdly brilliant dark philosophies she follows in her own life. Mallory had been invited to stay for a free visit at the hotel by Mr. Davenport after security had mistakenly assumed she was up to nefarious activities in the casino. She tells you of how she became an orphan at a young age. Though her life has been a series of adventures filled with tragedies and troubles, she is a very sweet and optimistic young lady. Sara Goodly has been chosen by Mr. Davenport for this potential inheritance because he tells you of how she and her parents have visited the hotel three times and left a strong, favorable impression on him. He feels that with her virtuous manner, philanthropic views and charitable acts that she would be a strong, positive force in a place like Vegas which he considers to be “synonymous with immorality.” Your questions with Sara do reveal a very virtuous person along with a surprise or two. Becca and Todd are a young couple who have met Mr. Davenport one time in the lobby of the hotel. They have told him that they are going to use their visit to get married and for their honeymoon, and Mr. Davenport has generously offered to upgrade them to a large suite. Becca, you learn from your interview, is a lawyer and she tells you that Todd is an actor who is currently appearing as a generic Elmo-type character in Times Square. Becca is very lively and chatty and does most of the talking while a more subdued Todd is left to do more reacting and sheepishly adding comments to what Becca is revealing to you.
Game play in Vegas Tales is somewhat different than in most FMV games. You as the player are in a bit of a more passive role than in your average FMV game, but you do get to choose questions from a given list to ask each character. And you are in charge of what order you’d like to pick them in as they are presented. But you will probably go through almost all of the questions in a single play through.
The fun of playing Vegas Tales is not so much in trying to figure out which dialogue choices will produce the best results, but instead in following along and listening to these characters’ often wacky and amusing stories they share with you. One of the best parts of this game is that you assume you know these characters well the more you interview them, but there are some unexpected surprises revealed about the members of the group that are enough to make your head spin.
At the conclusion of the game, you are given a choice to pick which character or group of people should inherit the hotel. And if you’ve gone through the dialogue options and exhausted most of the questions until you’re forced by the game to move on, you will probably have a pretty good idea of who you personally think is worthy of the inheritance. You then present your chosen potential heir(s) to Mr. Davenport and plead your case. And because there are four groups of people, that makes for four possible endings of the game. You can go back and play through the game again, with the option of skipping through scenes on the second play through, so this means that you can easily view all four endings if you keep playing. You can earn four achievements by completing each ending of the game.
Vegas Tales is a strongly character driven game. The characters’ stories are very surprising and interesting. The acting in the game is also a strong point in that all of the actors do a great job in their roles. Some of the members of this wonderful cast include the previously mentioned Tim Russ, Kim Rhodes from Supernatural, Katie Marovitch from CollegeHumor and Kimberly Brown from Halloweentown. The music, other than the jaunty upbeat tune that catches you a little by surprise at the beginning of the game as it welcomes you to the sights of Vegas in the title sequence, is a calming atmospheric piano that plays tunes that politely blend in with the fabric of the game and does not overpower it.
The conclusions of each of the endings are well worth repeat plays of the game in order to see all four endings because they are pretty entertaining. This is a charming FMV game that you can play without taxing your brain too much. Vegas Tales is a game that allows you to sit back and enjoy some amusing stories that only a city like Las Vegas can provide.