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SummaryA landmark game, not perfect, but in every respect destined to be a classic.
The GoodRealism, size and scope - GTA:VC could just be, the biggest, most detailed and realistic virtual world created in a computer game. Bigger and better than GTA3, Vice City screams 80s from every pore. From the beach to ghetto, from the 80s cars to vesper scooters this game has been well researched, well put together and done with a healthy infusion of humor. It's graphically improved with high poly-counts and more detailed animation and buildings can now be entered and explored. There are more realistic options available - change of clothes, purchasing of property, other outlets for weapons of destruction; this game has a lot of options to get through!
The other stand out feature is the sound. First the acting is top-notch with the likes of Ray Liotta give voice-over to the main characters. Sometimes the script is a little *cough* hacky *cough* but for the most part it's heart is in the right place. Second is the soundtrack which includes a whole bunch of 80's radio stations with officially licensed tracks including artists like Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash and the inevitable Michael Jackson. Music ranges from Latino Dance to Rap to Jazz to Pop or Rock. There's hours of radio to enjoy, including chat stations and lots of very 80s advertising. Last but not least there's the sound effects - which are awesome as well. I particularly like the chainsaw.
You'd think adding all this content to the game would be enough work in itself, however Rockstar have also out done themselves by adding a series of sub-games to complete. There are too many to list however they include Remote Control car races, dirt bike challenges, destruction derbies, stealing specific sets of cars, street racing... the list goes on. This game has some serious replay value.
The BadUnbalanced difficulty - in GTA3, the missions generally got harder slowly and stayed that way. However in the GTA:VC, the missions ramp up in difficultly much quicker, however there is never any middle ground. At any one time the missions available are either really, REALLY, difficult, or quite easy. This can be frustrating and the really hard missions can take quite a number of attempts to find the winning strategy which means that you spend a lot of the time not feeling like you are progressing.
Frame-rates - although the graphics are a step up from GTA3, you can see the PS2 starting to struggle with the amount of detail displayed. It's not too bad, but if you leave GTA:VC and play something else, the lower frame-rate is immediately noticable. On the upside, it doesn't vary all that much, given more on screen, but is quite low to begin with.
Auto targeting - the auto targeting system does not work at all on large groups of adversaries. I remember a mission early on in the game where you had to blow up two cans of oil in order to destroy a bunch of trucks - the catch was you were in the middle of a violent protest with security guards and disgruntled workmen. The only way to effectively target the the cans of oil before being killed was to walk right up to them. Problem is when they explode - they kill you! There should at least have been a option to disable auto target temporarily for automatic weapons.