Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Review

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a follow-up game to Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA3).  Vice City is not a sequel per se, as the game uses the same engine and gameplay as GTA3 - there are some new gameplay mechanics thrown-in, but more on those later.  It's not necessary to have played GTA3 to enjoy Vice City, but GTA3 is a great game so you probably will want to play it as well.  Vice City is set in the 80s in a city very reminiscent of Miami.  It's like Miami Vice all over again except this time you are on the other side of the law from Crockett and Tubbs.

The game does a good job of capturing the art deco, pink and turquoise look of Miami Beach, and also does a lot to transport you back to the 80s.  The hair and clothes of the people of Vice City are straight out of the 80s, as are the inspirations for the vehicles appearing in the game.  What really sets the mood, though, is the game's soundtrack which is once again delivered through the radios of the cars you hijack during the course of the game.  You get seven music channels serving up 80s pop, soft rock, metal, and the new wave that defined the decade.  There are also two all talk channels which are so entertaining that you'll probably pull to the side of the road to hear the end of the conversation with the current caller before continuing on the mission.  One of these talk channels is public radio so get ready for, you guessed it, annoying pledge breaks.  At least the ones in Vice City provide more laughs than you'll ever get from NPR.

Screenshots
New vehicles include golf carts.

The game opens with a drug deal gone bad as some uninvited and very well armed guests show up to help themselves to both the money and the merchandise.  Losing the money is bad enough, but to make matters worse it's not your money but is instead the property of Vice City mob boss Sonny Forelli.  Your pressing need to get that money back will be your prime motivation throughout the game as you make friends with those that can help you by doing a little dirty work for them.

Vice City is its own game, so if you're a GTA3 veteran please bear with us as we bring everyone else up to speed.  Vice City is a third person action game that is probably a lot different than any other game that you've played before.  Instead of locking you into a linear storyline, the game gives you an unprecedented amount of freedom in exploring the living city of Vice City.  You can roam the city stealing cars and robbing passer-bys to your heart's content (as long as you can avoid arrest) and take on your next mission only when you're ready to do so.  To encourage you to explore and try things out, the game does not penalize you heavily for failure.  You can't die, you can only get "wasted"  which means a trip to the hospital and a slight charge for their services.  Police roam the streets of Vice City and if they see you commit a crime they will give chase.  The more you commit crimes under their watch, the higher your "wanted level" will rise, until you reach a point where you are being actively hunted down by the entire force including helicopter backup.  They'll also call in the army for support if you're really in trouble. 

Even arrest won't end the game.  You'll be forced to pay a bribe to secure your release and your weapons will be confiscated, but you'll be back on the streets in no time.  You won't be forced to reload every time you fail a mission either; you can return to the spot where you got the mission to have it assigned to you again and give it another shot.  Vice City will even have a cab waiting for you to take you back to the place that you accepted your last mission.

 

Also reviewed on:
  •  · PC