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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (Windows)

93
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zovni (9350)
Written on  :  Feb 21, 2005
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars4.57 Stars

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Summary

Long live the 80's!

The Good

Rockstar is at it again with Vice City, the sequel to the landmark hit GTA3, a title that broke new ground by crafting an exceptional cocktail of diverse gameplay mechanics in a free-roaming gameworld mixed with a distinct touch of politically incorrect humor and controversial content. Given the absolutely fantastic fun that it was to play GTA3 Rockstar could literally just shove the same thing down our throats with just new maps, and we wouldn't complain about it. However as it so happens Vice City is more than just a "mod" of GTA3 and manages to fix what was lacking in the original as well as add even more entertaining features.

The gameplay revolves around the same concept of being able to run around freely in a virtual city, stealing vehicles for fun and completing gangster-themed missions. As in the previous title you also have a pletora of optional challenges sprinkled all over the gameworld, that include "rampage" missions, races, obstacle courses and vehicle-specific missions that include chasing down perps in a police cruiser or making rounds as a taxi driver or (new to Vice City) being a pizza delivery boy in a moped. Oh yeah, didn't I mention it? Vice City now adds motorcycles to the vehicle pool! And to my pleasant surprise, riding a bike is exceptionally well done, with proper animations and distinct physics that make it a unique experience and probably the most fun you'll have in this new GTA. You also have choppers thrown into the mix, which allow you to easily take to the skies without the hassle that was trying to control GTA3's airplane. These vehicles open new possibilities for the many minigames that now include pilotwings-like air races, and enduro bike courses at the beaches with the list growing larger with each new secret location you uncover in the city. Car driving has also been added a couple of new tricks that include forward shooting and the ability to jump out of a moving vehicle and send it crashing into a group of unsuspecting enemies :D.

So far we have practically every forum-posted objection to GTA3 covered, which shows Rockstar listened to it's fans. However the real upgrade in Vice City is seen on the content side of things, a feature that became the target of some criticism for GTA3 by the always present boring old fools that like to dismiss titles that manage to reach stardom mostly by being good games instead of just an interactive book. Worry no more old geezers! Vice City adds that which you craved so much! A story!!

That's right, you no longer are a nameless thug raising havoc in the name of gangster rivalries. Now you take on the role of Tommy Vercetti, a former member of a big time mafia family that got shafted and had to do hard time due to some backstabbing. As the game starts you are fresh out of jail and the family sends you to "Vice City" a fictional 80's Miami (ripped right out of Miami Vice) to keep you out of trouble, but you have a different plan, and through the course of the game you set it upon yourself to take the city by the balls and become the new mafia boss. This eventually gets you back in the center of attention of your former employers, and a war begins for control of the city, war that deals richly in betrayals, backstabbings and assorted gangster stuff. The cast of characters is much richer and varied, now voiced by some real star power with the likes of Ray Liotta (who does an incredible job as Tommy), Tom Sizemore, Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds, Gary Busey, Lee Majors, Fairuza Balk and even Phillips Michael Thomas reprising his role as a Tubbs-like parter of Tommy (and look out for a cameo by porn star Jenna Jameson also! :D).

The storyline and characters work like a charm in the brand new Vice City, an 80's themed beach town that serves as a gigantic source of sight gags and in-jokes towards one of the most blatantly funny decades in U.S. history. Taking most of it's cues from the seminal Miami Vice, the game has that distinct "pink neon" art-deco feel and a lot of detail was poured into every little nuance such as the flashy clothes, giant mobile phones, cars and assorted gags (including Don Johnson/Phillip Michael Thomas wanna-bes gunning for you in a Ferrari Testarossa should your mayhem bar grow too high :D). As in the previous game music also plays a major role in selling the gameworld, and since few things say 80's like it's music, the developers made the fantastic choice of licensing a full soundtrack that not only manages to be the largest videogame licensed soundtrack ever, but also manages to act like an 80's who's-who of music. Michael Jackson, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, David Lee Roth, Iron Maiden, even Crockett's Theme from Miami Vice and such pop hits as "Video killed the radio star" serve to complement the fantastic vibe of the game and make it a terrific experience. Plus for the PC release Rockstar took a cue from the technical issues in GTA3 and the installation now allows you to install all the audio files to disk, killing that nasty stutter effect whenever the game loaded a voiceover or radio station. The graphic engine is pretty much the same, but water has been improved with transparencies and visible sealife and loading times between areas have been almost completely obliterated by using some sort of streaming loading that makes it more or less a seamless environment (and bear in mind that Vice City is way larger than GTA3's city).

Finally, you have the ability to expand your empire by buying buildings in the city. From comfy condos to luxurious mansions, to more esoteric locations such as strip clubs, ice-cream companies and dance clubs. The later rewarding the player with extra specially-themed missions. And speaking of the missions they are a much more polished and carefully planned bunch than in the previous games, leaving the slightly meaningless races and time limits of the original in favor of more story-driven affairs (including a fantastic bank heist in which you have to assemble the team for the job and then hit it "Point Break"-style which is one of the coolest moments in the game).

Oh! And lest I forget, if you loved the quirky radio stations and those satirical ads. from GTA3 be advised that in Vice City they are back with a vengeance, including even more pop-culture references, and material that plays with the material from GTA3 (as you get to hear some of the same radio personalities in their earlier years). Excellently written stuff and priceless un-pc comedy.

The Bad

Well they fixed everything you could complain about... so what's left to bitch about?? Nothing I can think of.

The Bottom Line

Remember that fantastic game about carjacking and whore-shooting that you loved so much? Well they fixed everything you could bitch about, added it the coolest soundtrack ever, a kickass gangster story and the same fantastic un-pc humor the series is loved for. Plus... 80's Baby!!! What kind of a moron would pass this one up??