Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Review
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City provides just about everything you'd want in a follow-up to an outstanding game.
Last year, Grand Theft Auto III took the world by surprise. While the first two games in the series had a small, hard-core following, their simple 2D graphics and lack of a focused narrative structure limited their appeal. On the other hand, GTAIII featured a massive, clockwork world that was really impressive to behold, and it refined its predecessors' free-roaming, nonlinear design and added a far more compelling story in the process. Those improvements, coupled with amazing vehicle physics, a surprising amount of variety in the gameplay, and a great sense of style, made GTAIII a runaway hit and one of the rare games that is accepted by both hard-core and casual game players alike. But as good as Grand Theft Auto III is, the next game in the series, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, improves upon it. Vice City expands on the themes and concepts found in Grand Theft Auto III, fixes a few of the minor issues in the last game, and adds a lot of new abilities and items to play with. It all comes together to form one of the most stylish and most enjoyable games ever released.
The new GTA game is set in a fictional take on Miami, Florida, known as Vice City. The year is 1986, and Tommy Vercetti has just been released from prison after doing a 15-year stretch for the mob. The mob--more specifically, the Forelli family--appreciates Tommy's refusal to squeal in exchange for a lesser sentence, so they send him down to Vice City to establish some new operations. Tommy's first order of business in Vice City is to score a large amount of cocaine to work with. But Tommy's first drug deal goes sour, leaving him with no money, no cocaine, and no idea who wronged him. The mob is, of course, angry over the whole situation, and now Tommy has to make up for the loss before the gangsters come down from Liberty City to clean up the mess. As Tommy, you'll start the investigation, figure out who ripped you off, take care of business, and set up shop in Vice City in a big, big way. Oh, and you'll also drive taxis, get involved in a turf war between the Cubans and the Haitians, befriend a Scottish rock group named Love Fist, become a pizza delivery boy, smash up the local mall, demolish a building to lower real estate prices, hook up with a biker gang, run an adult film studio, take down a bank, and much, much more.
While Grand Theft Auto has always been a violent, mature-themed series, it has always balanced the violent crime with an equal amount of tongue-in-cheek humor and style. Vice City is no exception, presenting an exaggerated view of the 1980s that makes use of a number of the kitschy pop-culture stereotypes found in film and television from the decade. The drug-laced tale recalls such films as Scarface and television shows like Miami Vice. The humor comes mostly from the radio, which really drives home the sort of form-over-function mentality that most people associate with the '80s. Some of the game's major characters are also a source of comic relief, from the Jim Bakker-like Pastor Richards to the Steven Spielberg-like porn director Steve Scott. The game's large cast of characters is colorful and memorable. For instance, local drug kingpin Ricardo Diaz is always hilariously breaking something and cursing wildly whenever you happen to see him. Ken Rosenberg is your fidgety coke-fiend lawyer pal, and he gets you started in town by getting you connected with the city's major players. Lance Vance, appropriately voiced by Miami Vice alum Philip Michael Thomas, becomes your sidekick of sorts, as both of you chase vengeance for your own reasons. Your Cuban gang contact, Umberto Robina, is constantly reminding you how much of a man he is, and most of the Cuban gang members you'll run into are similarly inclined.
Stylistically, the game presents an accurate depiction of your average '80s crime saga. Like in Miami Vice, many of the characters are dressed in pastel suits. The game's vehicles also fit the bill, with a lot of basic sedans mixed in with cars that look enough like Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris to pass for the real thing. None of the cars are licensed, of course, though in a nice touch, some of the cars are actually earlier models of cars that appeared in Grand Theft Auto III. Fans of the previous game will undoubtedly appreciate little things like this and the other occasional ties to the world of GTAIII, which really help this new Grand Theft Auto game feel like part of a cohesive universe.
- Player Reviews: 608
- Game Universe:
- Grand Theft Auto 2 (PS, PC, DC, GBC),
- Grand Theft Auto III (XBOX, PS2, PC, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto Double Pack (XBOX, PS2),
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2, PC, XBOX, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, PC, XBOX, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969 (PS, PC),
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PSP, PS2),
- Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, X360, PC),
- Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy (PS2, XBOX, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2, PSP)
- Number of Players: