Review by chandlerbing

"Fantastic game that satisfy players wishing for more GTAIII"

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is Rockstar North's follow-up to last year's best-seller Grand Theft Auto III. It isn't exactly a sequel and it isn't what you would call an expansion pack but it is a unique blend of the two categories that offers familiar stuff from GTAIII and adds new features that fans have been calling for. The long awaited motorbikes are included adding more speed and tension as you cruise around the massive Vice City as well as the helicopter that is damn better than the hard to control Dodo from the previous game. This game is set in the eighties and you assume the role of Tommy Vercetti, a convict recently released from prison and arriving in Vice City, he tries to right the wrongs done to him through whatever means it takes. Prepare yourself as you dive into the criminal world of Vice City.

GAMEPLAY

Strolling around the city or cruising around in a vehicle is just as easy to control as GTAIII. There is an increased number of vehicles on offer including the ones mentioned above and your usual mix of trucks, vans, coaches and boats, so you're not going to be stuck for choice for long in this game. One of the complaints of GTAIII was the dodgy shooting system whereby targetting the person you want to assassinate is clumsy and you may accidentally hit a passerby. This has been much improved in Vice City where the auto-target system automatically (obviously) targets the dangerous people in view. New to this game is your ability and chance to buy property such as the Ice Cream factory and the cabs firm in order not only to unlock specific unique missions but also to earn regular wages through their output. Buying new property also allows you to save there and since there are quite a few properties to buy, you can create more save points which make it more convenient for the gamer to simply find the nearest place to save after a daunting mission rather than treking far away just to find a save point. These assets will set Tommy on the road to become the best gangster in Vice City.

The city itself is just as big, if not bigger than Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto III. You can simply spend many hours walking around the various areas and still not see everything the game has to offer. New to Vice City is that you can now go inside buildings such as the police station or the shopping mall which adds a slight addition to realism that was missing from GTAIII. Though there could have been more buildings that you could go in, the fact that the option is there in the game allows the developers to extend upon it in a future game in the series. The 100 hidden packages are back and they are just as difficult to find and keep track of as in the previous game but the rewards they yield are excellent and gives you the incentive to actually search every single inch of the whole city to find these things. This IS freedom and nothing about this game is linear. What is great about this is that the game doesn't force you to take a set path. You can opt to story missions and optional missions however you want or even ignore them and just mess around if you want.

Unfortunately just like the previous game, Vice City has its fair share of glitches including a known fatal glitch that affects your save game and the ever so annoying glitch where the garage ''eats'' your car you stored in it. Fortunately there is no known glitch that is as fatal as the Purple Nines Glitch in Grand Theft Auto III that affects your chance to complete the game 100%.

SOUNDTRACK/MUSIC/SOUNDS

One of the strong points of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the abundance of ''real'' 80's music spread over the abundance of radio stations on offer. For the older player familiar with music from this period, it is a welcome nostalgic addition that makes 80's Vice City much more alive to the player. There are now two chat stations, although are not as good as Chatterbox from Grand Theft Auto III, are pretty decent as well and offer some classic lines and satirical adverts too. Chatterbox fans will be pleased to know that Lazlow is back as the host of the rock station as well as Toni and the popular pimp Fernando Martinez having his own radio station too. This is an excellent way of keeping players of Vice City in touch with the very best elements of Grand Theft Auto III.

Pedestrian quotes are as wacky as ever and the story character voices are strong and personalities are conveyed well and convincingly. What is most definitely welcome is that Tommy has a voice unlike the mute main character of GTAIII. This allows his character to develop and express his attitudes and views rather than sitting back and take crap from various boss figures. Explosions, crashes and gun shots are all there as usual and nothing is missing.

GRAPHICS

Brilliantly done despite some graphical glitches and not exactly a massive improvement on GTAIII. The weather effects are particularly well done with the splatter of rain on your TV or the flash of lightning as you drive around the city adds atmosphere and shows the attention to detail Rockstar North are giving to the players.

LENGTH/REPLAY VALUE

The length of this game is enormous, not so much to do with the story missions but everything else that the game offers. There is virtually limitless replay value since there are so much you can do in Vice City even if you beat the game. Getting 100% is intensely tough due to the tough difficulty of some particular missions and also finding the 100 packages is time-consuming and a difficult feat to accomplish.

OVERALL

Fans of Grand Theft Auto III will definitely welcome Vice City into their arms. It is an extension to the addictive gameplay from the previous game but is so much more than an expansion pack. The new vehicles, missions and weapons on offer improves on anything people found lacking in GTAIII adding new dimensions on a format that is very much alive and not broken. this open-ended game will attract gamers who do not like the restrictive nature of linear games. Of course, there's not THAT much of an improvement in terms of new features to classify the game as a sequel but think of the game as something to satisfy your hunger before the new Grand Theft Auto game is made. Play Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and rediscover the joys of breaking the law in a virtual world and getting away with it!

PRO'S

- A large city places a large emphasis on exploration. So much you can do!
- Loads of new vehicles and weapons on offer.
- Fantastic selection of music from the 80's era.
- Challenging game. It'll take a lot of time and effort to achieve the very best 100%

CONS

- Glitches!
- Not THAT many innovative features.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/12/02, Updated 12/12/02


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