Review by !.ACA.!

Reviewed: 11/06/02 | Updated: 11/06/02

A + … Built on the solid foundation of Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City is one of the greatest action games in history.

Built on the solid foundation of Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City is one of the greatest action games in history.

It is no secret that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is an update to the already stellar Grand Theft Auto III. Vice City improves on the groundwork GTAIII laid out just a year earlier, and it drops in quite a few much needed changes and updates. Most changes are subtle, but each one adds to Vice City in a way that ties the entire experience together in a remarkable way.

Some changes are immediately noticeable, though. For starters, Tommy Vercetti, Vice City’s main character, now has a voice. Tommy’s voice is played by Ray Liotta, the star of the ultimate mob movie, Goodfellas. Having an “authentic” mob voice as your main character, especially for fans of Goodfellas, takes the game to a completely new level. Tommy will curse off pedestrians and cops, argue with various employers, and make comments to himself about his current mission.

Also immediately noticeable is the addition of various motorcycles; from the start of the game, you’ll be able to drive around in mopeds, ninja bikes, dirt bikes, and choppers. Of course, you’ll also be able to drive around in various sports cars, busses, trucks, jeeps, and other crazy vehicles, such as a golf cart. Each vehicle, from the Porsche all the way down to a petty moped, has its own physics and abilities. The Porsche, for example, is unbelievably fast; on the downside, however, it is quite easily blown up.

Unfortunately, Vice City does not feature real car names. The aforementioned Porsche is actually called a Comet; the Firebird is called a Phoenix; and the list continues with the rest of the vehicles. Even so, most people could easily pick out the Corvette or the Lamborghini, despite having fake names. Grand Theft Auto III veterans will be pleased to know that car names are back, too. You will find your Banshees, BF Injections, Bobcats – all familiar names. Players are not limited to the ground for their travels, though. Helicopters and boats take you to air and sea, respectively. Many potentially great video games could take a lesson from Vice City in the draw-distance department, too. Even in a helicopter high above the city, the draw-distances are spectacular.

Each vehicle looks unique and nicely detailed, as well. Moreover, every car’s tires can now be shot out. Windows can be shot through. Glass shatters. Car doors, trunks, hoods, and panels can be ripped off with various tools. This incredible new feature adds a new page of realism to the game. As if it wasn’t enough that you could steal any car in the game. There is something disturbingly satisfying about first shooting out a car’s tires, then, as the driver helplessly tries to speed away, shooting him through the windshield.

That’s right, in addition to the new vehicles in Vice City, there are quite a few new weapons. A chainsaw, brass knuckles, baseball bats, pistols, rifles, submachineguns, smoke grenades, and many, many more weapons can be found lying about the city. Whose sick idea was it to include a meat cleaver, anyway?

Obviously, these new weapons can be taken to the streets to cause major havoc amongst the local civilians, law enforcement, and gang members. But the weapons can also be taken indoors. New from last year’s game, Vice City now allows you to enter some buildings/homes/clubs/mansions/etc. The addition of building interiors is quite a nice touch; it is fun to bounce into a club, or to head into a pizza parlor—where you can order a nice pizza that graciously restores your health.

Tied directly to Vice City’s new building interiors is the purchasing of real estate. Throughout the city you can find various properties for sale. Some are simple apartments, but others are quite complex. Properties vary in benefits and sizes. And with each new property you purchase, you’re essentially purchasing another save point and whatever juicy details the property comes with. One nice bonus you might get from buying a property could be the use of that property’s garage, for example.

But back on the streets, you’ll notice much has been improved on. Civilian intelligence has been upgraded; for example, people walk in packs, fight with law enforcement, start feuds, and cause other disorderly conduct. If you’re feeling up to it, you can stop a criminal from running away from the police and even be rewarded with a nice fistful of cash for your deeds, called a Good Citizens Bonus. Small things like this add up to a much more cohesive community.

The cohesive community really ties together in the forms of the missions, though.

In Vice City, each mission feels significant to the larger picture. Unlike some of GTAIII’s seemingly random, misplaced missions, Vice City does a nice job of keeping the plot involved in each mission. Each mission is more complex, and more rewarding, than the next.

One early mission, for example, requires you to eliminate a man playing golf. It is not as simple as it sounds, however, because there are quite a few obstacles in your way. You will first need to dress as a golfer, a task completed by visiting a local clothing store. Next, you will enter the country club. Due to safety reasons, however, your guns and ammo will be confiscated and held for you outside the club’s gates. That means you will not be using your favorite submachinegun to eliminate your enemy. Instead, expect to hijack a golf cart, chase him down, and then use a handy golf club to take out the trash. These more complex missions allow Vice City’s gameplay to feel more natural. It’s not just kill Person A, run to Place B, and then wait for Person C to help you escape.

On the downside, however, the game’s combat system is still rather shaky. When you are in a jam, and you always are, you will have some problems with the targeting system. It has been improved over last year’s effort, but it still has quite a distance to come before it feels natural, like the battle system of Metal Gear Solid. Admittedly, this may never happen, since Metal Gear Solid is a much more relaxed game. Solid Snake’s troubles never included a rioting city. That being said, Vice City’s combat still gets the job done.

Another very legitimate complaint leveled against Vice City’s gameplay is the inability to swim. It is surprising that Tommy can fly helicopters, hijack any car in the city, and perform other amazing feats, yet he cannot swim. As soon as you plummet into the water, you’re wasted. Mission failed, weapons lost. Back to the hospital simply because Tommy couldn’t swim in ten feet of water; rather ridiculous. And while on the issue of water, it should be noted that little improvement was made to boarding boats, either. It still feels incredibly uneasy and unnatural stepping on and off boats.

On the positive sides of things, the ability to change clothes adds to the game. When your clothes become stagnant, trade them in for some new threads. This is a nice feature; you can now change your clothes in attempt of evading the cops, much in the way you can paint your car to evade the police.

Vice City won’t win awards for best-looking game, but it would win every award possible for most massive game. Vice City is enormous. And considering the sheer size of the city, the load times are incredible. The game rarely loads throughout the city, except when entering buildings or crossing bridges into other islands. This is an impressive accomplishment, to say the very least.

Even more impressive, however, is surely the game’s music and voice acting. Vice City features over one hundred songs—real songs—from the 80s. Bands range from Twisted Sister to Ozzy Osbourne to Michael Jackson to INXS and many, many more. Having real songs such as Video Killed The Radio Star playing during the game adds excitement and realism that is unmatched in most video games; it is quite possibly the most remarkable lyrical soundtrack in video game history.

Voice acting is also done with style. Aside from Ray Liotta, the game’s main character, famous voices include Lawrence Taylor, Luis Guzmán, Gary Busey, Jenna Jameson, William Fichtner, Danny Trejo, and David Paymer.

Without actually getting down and dirty into the world of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, one could conclude that it is little more than an update to Grand Theft Auto III. But after experiencing the radical changes and accomplishments, it isn’t hard to see that Vice City is truly an astounding game in itself. Any gamer that can handle Vice City’s mature rating owes it to themselves to pick up this title.

A … Presentation
Vice City is done with style. Menus, maps, and everything else are all very nice.

A … Graphics
Extremely massive city, many weapons, many vehicles: all looking good.

A + … Audio
Incredible. Over one hundred real songs from the 80s. Voice acting is superb.

A + … Gameplay
Gaming bliss. So many missions, weapons, cars, and more to have fun with. You will live and experience the life of a mobster.

A + … Value
The game’s main quest is of substantial size. And even after completing it, Vice City won’t get old anytime soon.


Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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