When you move to Vice City, you don't move out.
Grand Theft Auto III was one of the greatest games of all time. That's not a opinion, that's a fact. GTA3 had a distinct gritty crime movie feel, like the Sopranos, and Goodfellas. GTA3 had a real, living breathing city to play around in to cause mass chaos, or deliver fares in. When i first got my copy, i beat it in one sitting. One 18 hour sitting, doing nothing but the story missions, and rarely using the bathroom for any purpose.
If Grand Theft Auto III was a take on the Sopronos, then Vice City is a take on Miami Vice. Palm Trees, Cocaine, Fast Cars, Hot Women, and that's just the intro! Vice City is one of the best Crafted Cities i've ever seen in a video game, second only to Mafia. Area's range from neon-lit hotel strips (by the beach, of course) to a skyrise filled downtown area, to the seedy, degenerate filled slums and gang 'palaces'. Citizens range from Cuban immigrants, to ditzy blonde teens, generic thugs, and bums. You've seen this kind of variety in GTA3, but Rockstar has added many more details to make the city even more alive. Instead of the masses just walking around like the living dead at all hours, the local populace will skate around, sit on benches and stairs, or even wait at the bus stop. Rent-A-Cops will shoot at any thug trying to get into gated communities, and resident cops will run down purse snatchers and carjackers. That's right, they'll chase OTHER people, besides you.
The radio stations have gotten better as well. There are now nine stations, including two talk stations, a rock station hosted by Lazlow, and a romance station hosted by everyones favorite romance expert Fernado Martinez, built upon the same themes in GTA3 (rap, pop, techno, new wave, etc.) One of the joys of listening is hearing about these characters. Toni going on and on about old people (who she places around thirty or so) and how they shouldn't try to hold on to their youth, or Maurice Chavez (host of one of the talk station) going over his sad, sad life (you've got to hear it to appreciate all it.) You can even add in your own MP3's and listen to them while running over fat people or running from the law.
As far as gameplay goes, its an all-out fun fest for everyone. You can attempt some of the outrageous stunts around town, drive a cab for some extra cash, or blow up some preps when you pose as an officer of the law. The missions themselves are still very free form and have multiple solutions, and with the addition of a few motorcycles, these mission are much faster paced than the missions of GTA3. For example, i took a mission from a real estate developer to take out a man at a golf course. The problem is that at the entrance to the course is a metal detector that will take all of your weapons, so you have to beat him to death with a golf club... or do you? I looked around to find another way to get in, and i found it. Near the entrance is a small wall i could get over with by standing on a car and jumping over. So i did, and easily took out the target. That was only one of the many memorable moments of the game.
Some the things that can affect a mission is not only motorcycles, but the addition of helicopters, which fly much more easily than the Dodo in GTA3. Yet another factor is your clothing. Clean clothes can knock off two stars on your wanted rating, and what you're wearing helps too. A police uniform can get you into a military base, a suit and tie can can get hookers to your car faster, etc.
There wasn't really much i DIDN'T like about the game, with only one exception: If Rockstar wanted a song by Ozzy Osbourn on V-Rock, why not Crazy Train instead of Bark at the Moon? Every other song was a hit except that! WHY?!?
The Bottom Line
This is the best. game. ever. Buy it. Now. Stop reading and buy it.