Review by Fiefo!

"Ray Liotta sings in this one!"

While not a full-fledged sequel to Grand Theft Auto III (it's more of a prequel of sorts, in fact), GTA:VC greatly improves on the concept of complete freedom. Who would have thought that this game, which already sold over 50,000 copies before it was even finished (due to preorders), all started out as a very niche game?

Story: 9/10

The story starts out with Tommy Vercetti, who was jailed for 15 years, finally getting out and, so that the Mob he's working for can get him out of Liberty City, going to Vice City to start a drug trafficking business there. But, everything goes wrong during the exchange. In the end, Tommy loses all of his money and doesn't get the drugs and the only thing he has left is the Hawaiian Shirt on his back. With the help of Ken Rosenburg, the mob's smarmy lawyer in the area and Lance Vance, the brother of one of the hired guns killed in the ambush, he starts on his quest to get back his money... or does he have bigger plans?

The story, while not that original (it's been done in movies before), captures the flair of gangster movies done in the '80, where the game is set. Also, it helps that some high-calibre actors like Ray Liotta, who plays Tommy, do the voices of the characters. Also, the script is fantastic!

Graphics: 8/10

The graphics of GTA:VC are pretty similar to the previous game in the series, GTA3. Overall, the graphics have improved. The faces of the characters are much clearer now and you can actually see facial expressions now in the close ups. Nice little touches and variations in the character models, such as skinny women in skimpy bikinis , and, on the flip side, large, fat women in skimpy bikinis! Yes, not everyone in Vice City works out! And Tommy, the main character of the game, can actually change his clothes now to suit the occasion (or lose a couple of wanted levels).

However, there are some iffy spots with the graphics engine. It's much easier to ''see through walls'' now, especially in the mall areas. And, while the neon lights is very reminiscent of life in the '80s, the way it ''streaks'' by if you go in a fast car is really distracting. Fortunately, you can turn the ''streaking'' off. Also, there some weird pop up situations. Sometimes, you can be driving at the beach area and, all of a sudden, a pedestrian pops in front of me! Boom! 2 stars! It was a cop!

Sound: 10/10

This is probably the most ambitious, most greatly improved part of the game! While the sounds have generally been carried over from GTA3, from the running footsteps of the main character to the low, purring sound of the Banshee's engine, it's now in Dolby, baby! If you got a set-up that can play Dolby, use it! Sadly, I myself don't have a Dolby speaker setup (sniff), but I went to my friend's house who has one and... wow!

Not only that, the voice acting of the game is exceptional! Each of the main characters sound like just like how you would picture them! I especially like David Paymer, who does the voice for Ken Rosenburg. Hey! You got to give credit where credit's due!

On to the soundtrack! Probably the most ambitious soundtrack in video gaming history! With actual licensed songs from the '80s, it really sets the mood for the entire game. Younger gamers, like those 17 and below won't get it, but, the target audience will! And, besides, if you're 17 and below, shame on you! You shouldn't even be playing this game! It's for ''Mature'' people! (or... well, people over 17. I'm not exactly a ''mature'' person myself!)

Finally, Rockstar should get extra points for the little extra niceties thrown in. Small things like the conversations between the pedestrians, little voiceovers during the ''black screens'' (get Busted and, sometimes, you can hear Ken defending Tommy by shouting ''Tommy Vercetti is an innocent man!'') and more!

Gameplay: 7/10

The score I gave for gameplay is a bit misleading. Yes, you can do practically anything in the game. You can now order food to replenish your health, rob stores for extra cash, ride motorcycles, enter building, etc. Yes, it's really good! Ultimate freedom (except you don't go to the bathroom and sleep... but that's no fun, right?). So, why a 7?

This game has a lot of glitches and bugs! Remember the Flying Delorean in the movie ''Back to the Future?'' Well, I was driving around (exploring the map), when I saw something in the distance. Yes, it was a FLYING DELOREAN! (Okay. It was a Flying Blista Compact, but it looked just like a Flying Delorean!) I had to stop the car to make sure! When I ran DIRECT UNDERNEATH it, I thought ''Oh, well! What's one glitch?''

The next day (game time), I was delivering pizzas, I saw TWO flying cars! And a car stuck in a bridge! And, when I got out to try to steal it, I got stuck in the floor!

That's not all! Sometimes, when running at full speed, you can just plain hurt yourself! Yes, just running! Don't know why! And cops sometimes have the ability to fly after you! This happened to me after robbing a store and got 3 stars. I was in my getaway car, making it to the Pay 'n' Spray, when I ran into some ''quick drying cement.'' What I mean was, suddenly, the front hood of my car was sinking in the road! A squad car quickly came barreling in and smashed my car into a wall, getting me out of the floor. But, before I could make my escape, a cop got out of the squad car, and, LITERALLY, FLEW at me and dragged me out of the car! Now that's plain unfair!

While glitches like these happen rarely, it sort of destroy the experience. Yes, the gameplay is great... but maybe another month of QA would've been better.

Replayability: 10/10

This is the game that keeps on giving. Unlike Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, and other games ''epic'' proportions, GTA:VC is a game that you can just pop in and play without having to load a save game to get to a fun part. I mean, there are some times when you just want to play without having to work at anything, like in FFX, where you have to move the story to get to some parts.

And, even though you complete all of the missions in GTA:VC, you can still continue playing the game, unlike Metal Gear Solid, where you have to start a totally new game, without all your hard earned weapons.

Yes, it also fun to drive around without killing anyone. Just parking your Infernus sports car at the beach and enjoying the beautiful view of the sunset is good... better if you can pick up a 'ho along the way!

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

While the glitches in the game hurt the score, you shouldn't be put off by them. As I mentioned before, they happen infrequently, and, when they do, they are very easily forgiven with all the wealth of fun and replayability this game has.

Definitely buy! If you rent it, you're just depriving yourself of weeks and months of fun.

Oh, and by the way, Ray Liotta really does sing in the game! Turn the radio to Emotion. You just may hear Tommy sing along to Cutting Crew's ''(I Just) Died in Your Arms.'' Hey! He's pretty good!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/24/02, Updated 11/24/02


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