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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PlayStation 2) artwork

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PlayStation 2) review


"Grand Theft Auto III was a fun game for many reasons: it let you kill indiscriminately, it let you drive like a maniac, and it let you have sex in your car with hookers. But it was the gamesí freedom that captivated you, the fact you could do pretty much whatever you wanted, and as a result, you were forced to play until you achieved a 100% completion. GTA3 was a combination of structured missions and doing whatever you wanted (which was mostly random theft and violence). Whenever ..."



Grand Theft Auto III was a fun game for many reasons: it let you kill indiscriminately, it let you drive like a maniac, and it let you have sex in your car with hookers. But it was the gamesí freedom that captivated you, the fact you could do pretty much whatever you wanted, and as a result, you were forced to play until you achieved a 100% completion. GTA3 was a combination of structured missions and doing whatever you wanted (which was mostly random theft and violence). Whenever a mission was too hard to complete, you could go try another, because there were always quite a few available to you at any one time, or you could just grab a car and run down hundreds of innocent people and pick up their money.

The nice thing about GTA: Vice City is that it lets you do all this again, in a whole new city! It doesnít stop there, though, as you can now chop peopleís heads off with a katana, you can drive around on a motorcycle weaving in and out of oncoming traffic, you can go inside a number of buildings, and rob them for all their worth, or laze around in your hotel room until those nosy cops go awayÖ itís not your fault a police officer got in the way of your maniacal driving.

Be creative! You donít always have to kill people. Grab a motorbike and run it off the top of a building and try to stay on the bike as you hit the ground!

One of the things about GTA3 was that your character was nobody. He never spoke, he didnít have a name, and he had no character. It was up to you to be his character. Having a central character makes the story more interesting, and it is nice to see this improvement over the previous title in the series. This time, your character has a name -- Tommy Vercetti. Heís a bad boy, because he was in prison for quite some time back in Liberty City. His crime boss, Sonny Forelli, has sent him to Vice City to keep him out of the way. Soon after stepping off the plane into Vice, Tommy is already involved in a drug deal, which went horribly wrong, killing two of his associates, and losing both the drugs and the money. Neither Sonny nor Tommy are pleased by this, and Tommy goes about trying to find out who did this.

Missions are what drive the story. You work for various bosses, gradually developing the story, and trying to uncover who was involved in the setup. Eventually, it will seem that you lose sight of your original goal, and you just seem to be concentrating on purchasing property and making even more money. Until the end! But I wonít spoil any of that for you. Tommy will have to deal with many gangsters, some more polite than others. Youíll interact with Vietnam War veteran Biker gang leaders, drugged up Scottish homosexual band members, Haitians, Cubans, and rich bastards who keep themselves in their mansions and send their lowlifes to do their dirty work. Not all the missions are essential to the story though.

Missions start off easy, and let you get a feel for the controls of the game, and how the city is laid out, but by the end of the game, they can get pretty damn hard Ė even frustrating. One particular mission requires you to break a convict out of jail, and get him back to his home on the other side of the city, with police and swat teams on your tail. The smarter people will drop into a Pay and Spray, to reduce the criminal rating, and drive back with ease, or youíll use a tank to perform the mission. The freedom is always there in the missions. You can even use a helicopter instead of a car, as youíll be safer in the air, and this time, you can fly them yourself!

Some of the other things youíll be doing are assassinating wives, shooting men off building tops while in a helicopter, stealing tanks and dealing drugs. Unlike GTA3, there arenít that many escort missions, and there seems to be a lot more variety in what you get to do.

There is more of everything this time around, such as cars, boats and weapons. A lot of different cars are just slight variations of each other. The new weapons are mostly melee type weapons such as chainsaws, swords, screwdrivers and golf clubs. Assaulting a badly dressed old man in the Golf Course with a club and stealing his Caddy is always good for a laugh. You will get more guns too, but you will only be able to hold one of each type of gun at a time making a total of eight weapons at any one time. This is better than scrolling through 40 odd weapons just to find the one you want. Shooting the heads off policemen with a sniper rifle will result in the cop staggering around without a head before collapsing in a pool of his own blood. Drive by shooting is a blast, especially on a motorbike, as you can shoot forwards. When a car is right next to you, just shooting the crap out of it and driving off before it explodes will surely bring an evil smile to your face. High-speed car chases never get old, and with the variety of bonus things you can do on the side, Vice City never gets boring.

Bonus objectives include: police, ambulance and fire missions, where you take the respective vehicle and do their job for a while. You will have to catch criminals, rescue injured people and put out fires. You can make some money in a cab, or you can deliver pizzas on a little red moped. You can search for the hidden packages, which are located everywhere and unlock bonuses at your hideout. You can do the special Rampage missions, which require you to kill as many gang members as you can in a time limit. You can lure a prostitute into your sports car, and kill her when she gets out, and get your money back. You can even go to the local strip club and see boobies.

All in all, you can do a lot of things. It isnít just the killing and violence that makes Vice City an awesome game to play, as the design of the game is excellent.

The city layout is much better than Liberty City, as most roads actually go somewhere (except the airport, the roads there suck). There are no hills, only slight differences in elevation. This is good. I didnít like the hills in the third island of Liberty City. There are more weather effects, as Vice City is set in a tropical zone, there are more rainy days followed by bright sunny ones. Near Florida, I believe.

Most cars control very nicely. Some of the cars are annoying to control, but you donít have to drive them. Get a sports car for some real driving. During police chases, you will often find your tires being shot out; this makes driving a little harder, as you canít turn very easily. Police are a little cleverer this time, as theyíll lay down tire traps on the road. Running over them pretty much ruins any escape plan you had with the car you were driving. Itís realistic, and often leads to the fun of shooting tires on the many cars driving around, just to see them lose control and hit buildings or other cars. Motorbikes can be hard to control, and you get thrown off them easily, but they are really fun once you can dodge traffic and run people down. Initially, helicopters are a ***** to control, but with practice, youíll master them like I have.

Driving a chainsaw into a person results in large amounts of blood splattering on the screen, as well as all over the ground. This makes me laugh, because I am a sick person who has fun seeing blood flying everywhere. City and building design is very good, and the attention to detail is great. You really have to get up close to something, and have a read, to appreciate its brilliance. While in a helicopter or very fast car, some of the buildings in the background will pop up. It isnít all that noticeable, as youíre generally watching the road when traveling at those speeds. When you slam on the breaks or do wheelies, tire marks will appear on the road. Each car is full of little details, and you can even see the heads of people through the windscreen.

From the voice acting, to the radio and the sound effects of the cars engines revving the sound in Vice City is excellent. The screams of pain when you kill people is so realistic, that you might even feel sorry for them for a brief moment Ė if you still have a conscience left after playing this game. Each character is perfectly voiced, fitting their ethnic stereotype without flaw. Among the various people youíll interact with through the course of the game, there are Haitians, French, Cubans, and many more.

Vice Cityís radio is excellent. There are 9 stations, featuring two chat stations; one is a more argument driven station while the other is just general chatting and interview style. Both are hilarious to listen to, as the characters talk about some really bizarre things, and politics, pop-culture and pretty much anything are mocked. The other 7 are music stations, each catering to your specific tastes of 80ís music. While Iím no expert on music genres and how good 80ís music is in relation to anything else, I will say that my personal favourite was V Rock, though youíll find one you like best as you play. Sometimes the radio is so catchy, that Iíve been known to sit in a car and just listen, instead of getting out and doing a mission.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City may seem very similar to Grand Theft Auto III in every way possible, but everything is done so much better, that any criticisms you have of Vice just being a copy will be dismissed once you play the game. GTA3 was always about freedom, and now you have more of it! Plus access to a better radio, more weapons, much more balanced missions, more variety, and of course; much more fun. Iíve logged well over 50 hours in this game, and less than half of that was actually spent on the missions. Itís good fun.

Oh, and random indiscriminate killing is a very good way to lower stress levels.

Go buy it.

Rating: 10/10

jerec's avatar
Community review by jerec (September 03, 2003)

On very rare occasions, Jerec finds a game that inspires him to write stuff about. The rest of the time he just hangs around being sarcastic.

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