Review by SirFragalot

"Improves on GTA 3 exponentially!!"

Grand Theft Auto 3 was probably one of the most revolutionary games ever. It had something that no other games could implement. It had freedom. You want to drive? You drove. Fancy a blood fest? Wish granted. Life was taken into the player's hands, and whatever you felt like doing...you did it! Now try to improve that game. Seems hard at first, but it can be done. In fact, it has, in the form of GTA: Vice City. A new game set in the 80's, an era of fast cars, drug deals, and beautiful women. Probably one of the most anticipated games in history, Vice City makes its debut as a fantastic sequel to a hit game.

There are tons of things that could have been improved or added from GTA 3. A lot of these things actually were. In fact, Rockstar actually surfed around on the 'net to listen to gamers' ideas. Thank you! Most people wanted more vehicles (like helicopters and motorcycles), while others wished for game play additions (such as bailing out of cars, or sniping people through windows). No matter that suggestion, it was taken into consideration...and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

The Story: 10/10
After returning to Liberty City after 15 years, Tommy Vercetti is sent to Liberty city by Sonny Ferelli. Sonny and Tommy decide that he should take a trip, but things don't go too well. As Tommy is exchanging money in a drug deal, he is set up and has to leave the area. Now he's got nothing but the clothes on his back. Sonny wants the money and Tommy wants revenge...but he's going to need some help to do that. With the gangs in his way, it looks like a long road for Tommy Vercetti.

The Controls: 9/10
A few things were changed about the controller configuration, which is nothing bad of course. In fact, one of the new additions to the lineup is the new targeting system. It works very similar to GTA 3's, except for one thing. It doesn't just aim for whoever is closest; it aims for who may endanger you! Priority over proximity is the motto. It's also very easy to re-position the camera behind the character's back, with a simple press of a button.

The Characters: 9/10
Well...we all remember and love the great mute GTA 3 guy, but things change. In Vice City, we now take the role of Tommy Vercetti, a tough-acting guy with a personality. Voiced by Ray Liotta (of Goodfellas), Tommy not only talks in this game, but he shows many different facial and movement features that make the game seem more realistic in the character department. Other characters in the game include Phil Cassidy, Candy Suxxx, and Lance Vance, all with totally different personalities that you'll soon see as you continue in the game. The are much more interactive with the missions, and you’ll be seeing a lot of Lance, since he helps you out as you progress through the game. Also, there are about 20 different celebrities that were thrown in to add to the voice-acting fun. Don't miss them!

The Gameplay: 10/10
This is what gaming is all about. Without great gameplay, you've got nothing. Vice City's got us covered though. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, you have over 100 missions to complete. These can be your basic career missions, which are a necessary part of the storyline, or you can go for the side missions. The career missions are great fun and all in all, are more imaginative then GTA 3's missions. The side missions are probably some of the greatest ideas that I've ever seen. Sure, we had Vigilante and Taxi missions in the past, but what about Pizza Delivery? Who would have thought!?
Also, aside from the HUGE amount of different missions, there are still other things to keep you occupied. There are still 100 packages hidden throughout the crazy islands, and tons of different places to explore. You can always mow down endless pedestrians on the busy streets, or run from the cops on a long winding road. Or why not just take a walk out on the beach...with a chainsaw. There are endless things that are possible in this game, and there's no way I can list them all here.
Want to know a little about the improvements though? Well, I've already mentioned the huge amount of missions, but how about some new vehicles? This time around, there are over 100 actually, as opposed to GTA 3's now meaningless 50. There were also a couple ideas for some new guns that could be in the game. Rockstar more than delivered by more than doubling GTA 3’s amount of weapons. The vehicles and weapons also play a bigger role in the game this time. Now, there are such improvements as being able to damage vehicles with weapons! Yes, you can finally take out that annoying cop car with your bat. Also, if you happen to have a Sniper Rifle laying around in your inventory, feel free to use it well. With it, you can easily pop cars’ tires, or simply take out the driver through the windshield! It sounds amazing, but there is a TINY drawback. Tommy can only carry one of each weapon type (they are divided into ‘classes’). Although, who would want to try scrolling through 30+ weapons anyway? There are more types of vehicles such as helicopters, which can land on virtually every roof in the game. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for multiple types of boats. Sailboats and speedboats can easily be found at docks, and driven throughout the many waterways the city has to offer.
Of course, you can’t forget about the good ol’ motorcycles. Brought back from GTA 1, there are now 4 different types of bikes. You’ve got the Freeway (Harley) that some of the gangs use, and then you’ve got the PCJ-600 (Speed bike) that a few people drive around. Occasionally, you’ll even see a couple Mopeds being driven by tired businessmen or Pizza Delivery guys. Heck, there’s even a dirt bike that can be found and used in a special type of race at the Stadium.
The insane stunt jumps are back again, with the sweet looking camera shots.
The AI has been improved GREATLY. Pedestrians now sit, talk, walk and hang out in groups. They even run for cover when it starts to rain! The cop intelligence has also improved. Didn’t you hate it in GTA 3 when gang members would try to kill you, but you got busted for fighting back? Well, they chase the criminals now! Other cop enhancements are that they can lay down spike strips and send police after you from the helicopters (ala repelling rope).
With still more to hear about, it’s just amazing that this game packs so much! The game allows you to wear different costumes and clothes to disguise yourself from the cops, or just to fit into a certain environment. There are hours upon hours of cut scenes, and near 50 interiors that Tommy can go inside. You can go into hotels to save the game, or drop by a tool store to pick up some crafty weapons. You could even drop by the strip club if you have time…

The Graphics: 10/10
I personally thought that the graphics were pretty good in GTA 3. But after seeing Vice City, it looks totally different. The details that Rockstar put into everything are amazing. One of the most noticeable improvements are the different light reflections. Sun glares off of cars and the road, and the neon lights at night are breath-taking. This department has definitely been improved, and still runs at a constant 30+ frames per second. (Which isn’t too bad at all) The character textures are awesome this time around, and you can even see things like Tommy’s shirt whipping in the wind on a motorcycle! The interior furniture and surroundings are some of the greatest looking that I’ve seen in a game. There are interactive people and items, and it’s just outstanding. There are supposedly double the polygons as GTA 3 in basically everything in the game. The graphics are just so much improved over already pretty good graphics. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Sound: 10/10
People were crazy about the GTA 3 radio selection. Not only did it have hours of various genres of music, but it just fit perfectly. Now what type of music would fit into a game set in the 80’s? Fully licensed music from the 80’s of course! Yes, you’ll be hearing some of the greats, such as: Blondie, Flock of Seagulls, Kool and the Gang, Cutting Crew, Ozzy Ozbourne, and Michael Jackson. The radio stations also include two different chat/talk stations! Of course, what’s chat radio without Lazlow. Nothing at all! Which is why he has returned. There are plenty of genres for everybody, and if you like the music enough, you can even buy a special box set soundtrack featuring every song from the game!
Now, lets talk about the rest of the sound. Well…what is there to say really? It’s fantastic, with hours of pedestrian dialogue and new car sounds. You can hear birds chirping faintly as you stroll along the beach, and metal being grinded along the pavement as you skid your motorcycle across the street. Not one sound is awkward or out of place, and it makes the experience even more remembered.

Closing Comments:
Obviously, this is a great game. It’s a HUGE game, both in actual size and consumer hype. I believe it lives up to that hype, as it improves on pretty much every minor “flaw” that GTA 3 had. The replay value is insanely good. Even after you’ve gotten 100% on the whole game (which WILL take awhile), who wouldn’t want to snipe people from a helicopter or chop up annoying pedestrians with a meat cleaver? The game grants the freedom that us gamers want, and it is well worth $50 or even $60. With tons of new cars, music, pedestrians, sounds, weapons, costumes and property to own…how can you not want this game. A possible candidate/winner for Game of the Year, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a MUST BUY!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/30/02, Updated 10/30/02


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