Still got what it takes

User Rating: 8 | Grand Theft Auto: Vice City PS2

I always had a soft spot for GTA games, back when I was a kid, I'd spend most of my free time wreaking havoc upon unsuspecting pedestrians in a top-down view of the original GTA.

Incarnations went and gone once a few years with this one being my absolute favorite.

Unlike the original, the most recognized GTA, numbered 3 - fended me off with some gloomy, unsaturated, depressing colors and while I enjoyed the heck out of it, I felt like something's been missing.

That something's been delivered in loads by it's sequel - Vice City, sporting colorful graphics, bikes, RC helicopters and even greater cast of characters and music that makes me drive around the city aimlessly just not to abruptly end the current song.

The game stuck with me recently, as I played a whole lot of it on my way to work, on my Android phone but since yesterday I've had the leisure of playing it home, on my old, dusty PS2 slim.

So how does VC stand in the modern day? Better than I expected!

I won't go into the story details, as pretty much every part of the GTA franchise follows the same routine - You're a young hot shot trying to become big in the criminal world, working for the wrong people and doing these filthy, filthy deeds for them.

The most important aspect of GTA games has always been the freedom of exploring the wast game world at Your will and that has not changed. You're free to wander the city beating up pedestrians, drive cars over them and hey - there are also awesome missions You can take.

Missions gunning down concurrent gangs, driving mobsters safely around town or helping one's unwanted people "commit suicide".

Graphics do feel out of date by todays standards and while stating that I have to admit GTA: VC never looked too good to begin with.

The scope of the game takes serious toll on the poor PS2, even as far as noticeably dropping some frames occasionally and with that the graphics had to be taken down even back then.

Individual models look blocky, like from late PS1 games upon closer inspection, but given how much of them are interacting at one time on screen is something to be expected from it's hardware.

It does not look particularly worse from it's PC or event current Android counterparts - sure there are less reflections on cars and textures look a bit more blurry but the overall presentation still holds it's own for a game this old and is not sore for the eyes by any means.

The gameplay has evolved from back then. While I managed to out gun mobsters with relative ease - there were some scenarios, where it's not perfect control scheme took me out of the experience, like auto targeting not the one I wanted to shoot or not letting me freely shoot the direction I wanted to.

Camera controls are also getting in the way of fun most of the time, as back then developers chose to map first person free looking mechanic preventing You from taking any action while You're at it. Meaning if You're in a tight spot with a bad viewing angle, all You can do is turn around and reset Your view straight up front from Your character.

Even with those slight handicaps the game plays alright.

Doing mafia work with these bit stiff controls still feel amusing, as ever.

Sound effects like gunshots or weapon swings don't sound particularly powerful but they do their job well enough and engine roaring beneath Your vehicle's hood sounds satisfying.

Overall, blasting through the campaign felt a bit handicapped at first but after getting i gripes with the controls I was blasting mobsters, like nobody's business.

Summarising:

PRESENTATION:
While feeling dated, the colorful display of Vice City stays pleasing for the eyes.

SOUND DESIGN:
Gun shots feel a bit underpowered but engines roar as they should and the voice acting is more than serviceable.

GAMEPLAY:
While controls feel handicapped in comparison to the PC and Android incarnation of the game, the gameplay is solid enough to make me overlook it almost entirely.

OVERALL:
Vice City still proves to be a great value for those willing to thread through the nostalgic lane.
With plenty missions and side activities to take it'll take a good while before You see everything it offers.