It could have been a classic
You play as Tommy Vercetti, a thug working for a mafia boss. When a drug deal turns into a bloodbath, you go to Vice City to settle some scores and earn back the money. Your stay in Vice City becomes longer than planned and it will eventually become your new home.
First, let us talk about the good parts of the game.
I loved the way the story progressed. You come to the city with no money, and start running errands for the local gangs; soon you climb up the ladder, start acquiring properties, and become rich enough to run the city.
Vice City is a sprawling metropolis. It contains two islands connected by bridges and some islets as well. What this means is that, you will spend a lot of time exploring the city which makes the game quite long, and very enjoyable for most part.
The missions are non-linear, you do not have to follow the main mission; you could just pick one of the many side quests, and get to the main mission at your own pace. Completing certain main missions is necessary to unlock parts of the city, more side missions or to buy properties etc, and also to earn the much needed money – you can't hope to earn all the money needed driving a taxi or delivering pizza.
Some of the vehicles seen in GTA III are seen again, like Cheetah and Patriot, but the most significant introduction is the bikes. I spent a lot of time driving through the city on the bike, squeezing between cars at break neck speed!
Most of the vehicles handle very well, some better than others of course, and soon you will have your own favorites. You also get to fly a helicopter and a plane during the game, so there is no shortage of variety in Vice City!
The graphics in the game have received a lot of makeover. Even though the game runs the same engine as GTA III, it looks a lot better. The draw distance has improved, and this is particularly noticeable when flying.
Sound is very good, with excellent voice acting from Hollywood celebrities. I also loved listening to the radio while I was driving. I can recollect driving through the city just to listen to the radio station, some of them are hilarious, especially KCHAT and VCPR.
Given the excellent features of the game, I have some mixed feelings. The game is brilliant. There is no doubt about that, I would not spend 46 hours playing it, if it was not good, but the game has certain inexplicable flaws.
To being with, getting to a mission involves driving to a certain place, picking up a certain person etc. Sadly, it is not possible to save the game during a mission, or even at the start of a mission. One slight mistake is enough to fail in the mission, which most of the times means you will have to restart from a previous save point, and go through the whole process of driving to the place, going through the cut scene and what not. To add to the frustrating, you die for stupid reasons such as falling into a puddle.
Controlling the flying vehicles, especially the RC (Remote Control) Helicopter is extremely tough. You are a given a mission where you need to pick up and drop bombs in certain places using the RC Helicopter within a time limit, and there are people shooting at it.
Similarly, you need to control an RC Plane while it is being shot at, and its fuel is running low. I just could not get this to work on my keyboard, and I had to resort to my controller, which defeats the whole purpose of playing on the PC.
I cannot imagine why these defects even exist. What is the point of not having autosave during missions like on consoles? Why were the controls for flying vehicles not tweaked for the PC?
I tried hard to love this game, and give it a 9.5, but bearing these faults in mind, the PC version is just not that good. Mind you, the game is still worth playing, but I am severely disappointed with some of the gameplay elements.
If only the developers were not so dim-witted, this would have been a classic, it probably is for many people; just not for me.