Review by Tomdogg
"A faithful follow-up in the GTA series"
I have always been a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, ever since it's debut installment, GTA3. Since then, I have followed up on and completed every game there has been to offer. However, Liberty City Stories was a rather dull game, due to being ported from the PSP. Luckily, my friend recently sold me his PSP, along with Vice City stories, and the game itself is very good for a handheld game. Note: This was my first PSP review and I have never played a hand-held game in my life, so I'll try to go easy.
The story is set before the events of Vice City and starts Vic Vance (Lance Vance's brother) as the main character. When the game begins, Vic has joined the army to gain money for his family, specifically to take care of his sick brother. However, during the first few minutes, the game introduces Vic's commanding officer- a drug-dealing psychopath named Jerry Martinez- who starts asking Vic to do some crazy things, such as picking up drugs for him from the get-go. Soon, Vic finds himself kicked out of the army, and starts working for any type of illegal dealers to gain money. No-one knows exactly why Vic puts up suck a fight when being forced to do these illegal activities, as he does them anyway.
The graphics are no real step-up from how the game has always looked. In fact, they look even worse than the PS2 visuals, since the PSP doesn't have quite as much graphical firepower. Anyways, the framerate is rock solid this time around, which is a step-up from LCS somewhat inconsistent framerate. There is a bit more detail to the graphics, and there are more interiors, but that's about it. Overall, the graphics are no real improvement.
The sound is easily the best point of the game. Vic and all the other characters are voiced very well. The radio stations are also great, and include some of the best 80's songs from nearly every genre. Most of the original VC radio stations are intact as well (Flash FM, Wildstyle, etc.) and most of the original DJ's are back. The only problem with the music is that the UMD disk dosen't always keep up with the music streaming and there are occasional chunks of silence. Other than that, all the sounds remain the same and are very well done.
The gameplay has been tweaked a bit from LCS. Fortunately, the controls are almost the same from LCS, and a few other additions have been made. The most notable one is the input of helicopters, which were not present in LCS. However, the biggest improvement is the ability to build a huge criminal organization. After completing chapter one, players gain the ability to attack rival gangs business and take them over. After that, players can mod a evolve the businesses many times over, as well as complete specific missions for them, to increase Vic's reputation in that certain area of crime. The types of businesses vary from a protection racket, all the way to drug dealing. After that, there are three levels to choose from (small time, medium venture, or high roller.) The bigger the business, the more the business pays. At 16:00 every day, all the businesses players own pay Vic. So the more businesses players own, and the bigger and badder they are, the more money players obtain.
However, the downside is that rival gangs will repeatedly attack any business at any point, and there's a high cost to fix all the damage. Leveling-up any business also has a high cost. Other than that, the gameplay is pretty much the same as it always was.
Overall, GTA VCS still retains everything the GTA formula ever had and is far superior to LCS in many ways. Definitely work checking out.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 07/25/07
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