Review by Ali_X_Rexus

"Let's start a prostitution business."

In the world of GTA, you have to include something new and fresh to distinguish yourself from the other sandbox titles in the series. Grand Theft Auto, as everyone who hasn't been under a rock for the past 7 years (GTA III was the series' rise to fame) knows, is a sandbox title that gives the player freedom of play through grand theft auto (riding ground, sea, and air vehicles of all sorts) and a third-person shooter system for interacting with your environment--you can run, jump, aim, and shoot, which means you'll be treading the vast GTA lands always looking for something new to keep you busy.

Going back to the opener about freshness, this game adds something new to the GTA formula, or rather builds on previous foundation to create something cooler--you can start businesses by acquiring land. You can either purchase businesses right away if the land isn't occupied, or you need to defeat an opposing gang to take the land for grabs. Businesses include protection rackets, prostitution houses, loan shark, drugs, smuggling and robbery, and each one returns a daily sum of money on you depending on how big and developed the business is--you can do business-specific missions, like smuggling drugs and pimping prostitutes to increase your income.

All of the aforementioned empire building can be utilized as a primary source of money, but other than that, it's just a side dish for you to enjoy in the world of GTA, where side-missions and extras are as large as they come.

The main offerings in any GTA title are the main missions, and in this game, you play Vic Vance, Lance's brother, two years prior to the events of GTA vice city (that sadly sees Vic off). Vic is a U.S. army soldier that gets stuck in his sergeant's wrongdoings and eventually gets expelled for drug acquisition and having a prostitute tagging along--both were intended for sergeant jerry martinez.

The world map is an integral part of the GTA universe, making it much easier tracking your next missions, and as a GTA staple in recent years, you can tag an area on your map for easy follow-up. The vehicles you use to drive around are all sorts of rides, varying from cars and motorcycles to jet skis and helicopters. What's pretty in this sandbox title is that you don't really have to do missions to have fun, even though they might unlock new areas and other such. You can have as much fun if not more by freely roaming about and bringing about havoc.

Passed a mission? $20. Finished a side-race? $50. Piling up dozens of cars and blowing them up with a rocket launcher? Priceless. And when you indulge in criminal acts, the cops are bound to be out to get you. Everyone loves a police chase, but raise your criminal star ranking, and you'll have SWAT and FBI on your ass. Some later missions have these law enforcement orders tighten up on you, and it makes for some amazing chases, and the satisfaction you get from the missions is just lovely. So, the game is FUN.

The graphics are GTA-fare--nothing special, but it's nice to see the PSP handle such a vast game, even though the frame rate might take a hit every now and then. The audio, oh the GTA audio, especially Vice City. Voice acting is top notch as usual, and plenty of famous voices appear, including the voice and cameo of Phil Cassidy in the game: you will have some missions alongside the famed singer of the 80s. Also, as any GTA aficionado would tell you, it's all about the Radio Channels. Whatever you desire to listen, you will find something for you flipping through the channels. It's like driving a car in real life, flipping through channels waiting for something good to come on, and their are FUNNY ARGUMENTS and ads along the scan.

Their is a good array of weaponry, ranging from hanguns and shotguns to bazookas and sniper rifles. The sniper rifles still produce a lovely blood-spurt effect when you wipe someone's head off clean. You can purchase weapons from shops scattered all over vice city, and this time around, you can perform grapples and throws as well as lie atop enemies to kick them in the groins.

In the end, you know there is plenty to keep you going on here. One moment you're throwing preserves to drowning swimmers, another you're going for the 99 red balloon collection. It's all FUN, and while at times the frame-rate takes a hit, the fun doesn't.

Pros

+ FUN as usual
+ Businesses are a great addition
+ A nice PSP replica of the GTA universe
+ Radio Stations/Voice acting
+ lol it's Phil Cassidy; wait who's Phil Cassidy
+ Nice array of weapons/vehicles

Cons

- Some camera annoyances when it comes to positioning during vehicular rides
- Some frame rate drops

Story - 7
Visuals - 8
Audio - 10

Gameplay - 10
-FUN Factor - 10
-Controls - B
-Difficulty - Easy to Hard depending on mission

Lifespan - 10

Overall - 10


A title worthy of the GTA name that adds a nice new twist in the form of empire building.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/08

Game Release: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (US, 10/31/06)


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