"They took one too many steps back in this beautiful, but ridiculously buggy sequel."

Game: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories – 6.0/10

Grand Theft Auto is back, and back to the charming Vice City which we once came to with our old pal Vercetti to take over. Now we're in charge of an ex-marine, Vic, and try to take over Vice City before it was ruled by the Italians. Rockstar puts us back in the beautiful city, but with problems and bugs. Overall, it's not clean, it's not fresh and it has one too many annoyances to make it live up to a great Grand Theft Auto name, and instead place it in the “oops” section of the great series.

Graphics: - 8.0/10 – The graphics look beautiful, when they're not hurting your eyes. Let me take this back a bit…Vice City has a blur problem, and it's been very clear since the city went into the third dimension. GTA: Vice City for the Playstation 2 had a very warm, blurry feeling because of the some of the options (which you could thankfully turn off). Now, GTA: Vice City Stories for the PSP brings back the blur without the warmth, or the option to turn it off. As you drive even a tiny bit of a shrug, the city around you turns into a giant blur, which may look good at first, but will leave your eyes begging for clarity after a while. It's a pain to deal with, basically, and one that you'll have to deal with if you're going to get any enjoyment out of this game. However, when you're standing still the city looks great. The sky, especially, looks inviting and pretty, if nothing else. The colors are pastel-like, again, and the cars are nice and shiny. Overall it's good, but it's too much of a sore to get a perfect score.

Sound: - 8.5/10 – The voice acting gives this score some life, as well as the great soundtrack. Ever since GTA:VC came out for the Playstation 2, the GTA series has been known to add pretty sweet soundtracks to their game to aid you in the enjoyment of killing people like a maniac. Well this game delivers great quality stuff at the same rate as any other game. Aside from that, the voices are pretty on-spot and top-notch. Everyone acts and sounds just as they should, regardless of how annoying they just may be. Above average job, but not significant enough to the game to earn a huge score. The sound's there, it's just not captivating.

Concept/Story: - 3.0/10 – Whoever had the idea to bring Lance back to any storyline other than to beat the living hell out of him has got to be fired. Though my main beef is with Lance Vance and his endless lame catchphrases, the main character, Victor Vance, isn't much of an improvement over his brother at all. The game takes place in the eyes of the ex-marine, Vic, who is driven by the passion of earning money for his sick brother. He plows his way through people, guts them, shoots them, runs them over, deals drugs, takes over empires, all in the name of…helping his brother. What they tried to do was let you finally play as a good guy in a Grand Theft Auto game, doing all of these horrible acts for a good reason—but it only works in theory. In the game, it's simply difficult to not think you're playing as a huge hypocrite the whole time. He doesn't want to kill, he doesn't want to deal, yet he does it all mercilessly throughout the storyline, and you can make him do much worse out of the story. The Vance family has problems, as do most of the characters save a couple few, which earn it the 3 points instead of any more. The story is bad, the characters are bad, and only the cameos from previous games really hold this up to anything worth noting. They tried to do something good, but failed miserably.

Gameplay Mechanics: - 4.0/10 – Below average. The game keeps the good and the bad of the old, and adds nothing but bad to the new. Maybe when it's this far along, it's difficult for a game like Grand Theft Auto to go for new, unique ways to add to the gameplay. So they throw in small things that are supposed to be added in for the better of the game. However, the small things they've thrown in just amount to nothing but a bit more frustration. Jet skis, for example, are quite possible the worst things to maneuver, ever. And using one of these to complete a circuit around the map will have you ripping your hair out if you even barely miss a marker with it. Swimming was upgraded, but not for much of the better, as it's just about as useless as ever, other than not angering you more when you drown out of nowhere. The helicopters are all the same from previous games, with nothing really new being added in. Everything just seems bland, repetitive, the same as the old Vice City we knew—nothing to be excited about nowadays.
Huge problems with this game are the glitches. They've been around for a while in the series, but this game takes it back to GTAIII and makes it even worse. Cars get eaten almost always, bullets shoot at you like no gun is ever supposed to shoot in this world (which is unbelievably frustrating, to be honest, especially seeing your car blow up in the matter of seconds when you only made a tiny dent in it), you get hurt when they're shooting at you through a bulletproof car and with a bulletproof vest on…it goes on and it doesn't stop. It's endless, the little things here and there, they'll make you go crazy. They'll frustrate you and make you wonder why they didn't test this game out just a bit more. Maybe they're becoming too reliant on the formula that the series has made for itself. Whatever it is, it's definitely apparent that they took less time to clean up and more time doing…whatever else.

Replay Value/Fun Factor: - 6.5/10 – The game's fun enough to keep you entertained while you play, and there's a chance you'll want to play through the whole game, which is always a plus. But besides that, it's difficult to see what else there is to do. The city is old, and Vice City pulled it off better than its Stories counterpart, so there's not much reason to go back in that alone. Liberty City and San Andreas are just overall much more interesting cities placed in a much nicer atmosphere, but if the longing of the Miami sun comes around, you'll probably want to pick up the other game first. There's a bit to do—side mini-games which are boring and waste time, 99 red balloons placed here and there around the city, but it's just all too much of the same to be that much fun. Maybe GTA has gotten stale, or maybe this game has nothing new to give.

Final Thoughts: - 6.0/10 (avg.) – It scores above-average, but not by much. As a game alone, it might rank pretty high, but because of the expectations and the idea that the previous games have surpassed it, it's just not good enough to gain that high of a score. The glitches, the story, the characters—things that shouldn't be a problem at this stage of a GTA game, they're the reason this game scores so low in my book. It's all done over and over again, and it's done in the wrong fashion, in the completely wrong way, with the completely wrong outlook overall. There wasn't much more they could add, but there was a lot they could've cleaned up and made nicer. But we're stuck playing this low-quality GTA game that could've been a whole lot better. Stick with the other GTA's if you want a rampaging good time, and only play this game if you're a fan, or if you've got a bit of time and money to waste.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 12/08/06


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