Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Have a coke, have a smile.

Grand Theft Auto is a cultural phenomenon. It’s been railed on by conservative organizations, politicians and hysterical media all too anxious to pit the ills of society on its head. But instead of going for hard violence and tacky sex, GTA had achieved its infamous M rating with a distinct combination of style and wit that made you feel like you’re part of a great interactive crime movie. Vice City is nothing less.


Vice City is a bright, colorful paradise.

While it builds on what we’ve already experienced in GTA III, Vice City is polished and more expansive. You can enter buildings and buy property, ride motorcycles, fly choppers, a seaplane and mingle with the high and low-lifes of a Miami inspired metropolis. It’s all wrapped in an epic 1980s motif, complete with every stylistic facet of that era you can imagine. Scarface, Miami Vice and Goodfellas references are everywhere, from your wiseguy alter ego Tommy Vercetti (voiced by none other than Ray Liotta) to the final mission where you make a last stand in what looks like Tony Montana’s mansion.

The script takes full advantage of Vice City’s dynamic set of characters, from sleazy mob bosses and their help to sneaky lawyers, corrupt politicians and porn stars. Superb motion captured scenes and acting push the story along seemingly endless missions.

On the technical side this game isn’t far removed from GTA III, in that there’s not a great deal to do besides enjoy the story missions and perhaps engage in freelance work to buy better and more stuff. The most significant update is the ability to enter and ultimately own buildings. You can see out into the streets from buildings, and chill out in your mansion where you can save or climb up the roof to your helipad and your own personal chopper. Other new vehicles number bikes, a pizza delivery scooter (playing pizza boy actually provides a fun little distraction) and a cool but hard to control speedboat.

If It Ain’t Broke

But officer, I dindu nuffin'

But officer, I dindu nuffin’

Many of the core gameplay elements that weren’t broken are still around. For example you can still repaint your car to stave off police, and great too since those stars are still as easy to accumulate. While traffic violations are ignored, the moment the law sees you firing weapons or going on a rampage, sirens flash and squad cars come rushing in. Fortunately you now have a greatly expanded armory to defend yourself, so much so that you have to replace old, obsolete weapons with newer ones. In essence you can keep the pop gun you’ve started with for the entirety of the game or upgrade to a shiny 357.

Vice City’s 80s setting does much to counterweight the game’s rather trim expansiveness as far as the original formula. This isn’t inherently wrong since GTA III was superbly designed to begin with, and out of all GTA games I think Vice City is the most vibrant stylistically. The music, bright colors, wiseguy theme and pure fun make this one of the best sandbox action games out there.

System Requirements: P III 800 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 32 MB Video, 915 MB HDD, Win98

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