Review by The Mork

"Rockstar have done it again!"

The Grand Theft Auto series started with a bang almost 5 years ago, and playing Grand Theft Auto on my PC back in 2000 I had a feeling that this was the start of something big. I am pleased to see that I wasn't wrong. Today, the Grand Theft Auto series are among the most popular video game series to date, and have reached the pinnacle of gaming excellence with their newest title, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Story: 10/10

Firstly, I must quash the belief that Vice City is just an expansion to GTA3. This is wrong. For starters, the game is set in a completely different time to that of GTA3, and with almost all the characters are completely new (save two or three that are only in cut-scenes, and for about a minute or two).

Basically, you are Tommy Vercetti (voiced by actor Ray Liotta), a crim who has just been released from prison after serving 15 years. The year is 1986 (incidentally the year I was born) and Ray is sent to Vice City to expand the Mafia's grip on the United States. However, everything soon goes wrong and Ray is left with no money, no friends and a pissed-off mobster that wants answers.

The story is brilliant, and is a notch above the previous series. The fact that you actually play as a speaking character adds depth to the game, as you aren't just some lackey called ''the tough guy''. As the story develops, you will find access to more and more missions (just like the previous GTAs) and will eventually find yourself facing off with your former mafia boss.

Graphics: 9/10

Vice City's graphics are superb, and are many times better than those of GTA3, and this really adds to the gameplay. If your computer can support high resolutions, be prepared for some serious eye candy. Instead of driving around a bland, dull city, you can enjoy the numerous sights that Vice City have to offer. Crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, and an infinite number of people, places and neon signs make you feel like you are really in the 80's. The character models are also a step above those of GTA3. They are much sharper and more defined, and they actually open their mouths when they speak!. The only minor problem with the graphics is the same one that plagued GTA3 and that is the camera angles. Sometimes (especially when in a building), you cannot see your character, and that can be quite a pain when you're having a fire fight with 20 police officers. However, this problem is only minor, and it doesn't happen very often.

Sound: 10/10

The sound of Vice City has also improved since GTA3. Gone are the days of listening to annoying songs that Rockstar have produced just for the radio stations. Now, whenever you turn to a radio station (apart from two talk stations), you will hear REAL songs from the 1980's. The MP3 feature from GTA3 is back, so you can listen to your favourite songs while cruising down the streets of Washington Beach or Little Haiti. Lazlow and Fernando Martinez from GTA are ''back'' (even though Vice City is set before GTA3), and Rockstar have made a new set of hilarious ads to keep you laughing between songs. I have already mentioned that Ray Liotta does Tommy Vercetti's voice, and there are many other celebrities voices in the game (including ex-adult film star, Jenna Jameson).

Gameplay: 10/10

Believe me, if I could give this more than a 10/10, I would. As most people know, gameplay is the bulk of the game, and Rockstar have spared no expense in creating an unbelievable gaming experience.

Firstly, the new features. Motorcycles are now available in Vice City, along with helicopters and even a seaplane. These vehicles add a lot to the depth of Vice City, and allow to access the kinds of places that would have been impossible to get to in GTA3. The damage in cars is a lot more extreme, and you can now shoot out tires and windscreens (especially helpful when doing a drive-by). You can also ''ghost'' out of a car as it is moving, in case it is blown up. Vice City also gives birth to an arsenal of new weapons, which are at your disposal (at a price). After beating a certain number of story missions, you gain access to properties, which can be bought using all those hard-earned funds that you have. By buying properties, you can unlock new missions and vehicles, and completed properties will earn you revenue, which you can spend as you see fit.

Like the other GTAs, missions are the core of Vice City, and there are roughly twice as many this time around. The missions tend to be slightly easier than those of GTA3, but they are much more varied then those of their predecessors. There are many more people, organizations and gangs for you to do missions for, and this adds tons of variation for you to enjoy.

The amount of freedom that you have in Vice City is shadowed only by Morrowind. You basically have complete freedom as to what you want to do. You can drive, ride, fly, walk, run and shoot your way around Vice City as you see fit, and there are endless sights to explore. If you are sick and tired of doing missions, you can explore and find all of the secrets and mini-games that the game has to offer.

The law enforcement has been beefed up in Vice City, and you won't be able to wreak havoc without attracting them. The ability to blow tires can work against you, as you drive over strips of tire spikes that the police have carefully placed in order to catch you. The FBI now drive huge cars that can smack you around very easily, making them quite tricky to get away from. And of course, when you get that sixth star lit, the boys from Fort Baxter will come after you in their tanks (a trademark from the GTA series).

All the extras from GTA3 are back for Vice City. There are 100 new hidden packages for you to collect, and are in much harder places than they were last time around. There are a whopping 36 unique jumps and rampages (almost twice as many as GTA3) for you to complete, along with the police, fire, ambulance and taxi missions to do. A new addition to Vice City are the pizza boy missions, which have you screaming around Vice City on a moped delivering pizzas to people by use of the drive-by feature (so you are basically hurling the pizzas at the customers faces). For those of you who successfully completed GTA3 100% (I myself was 8 missions away when my dad decided to format our computer), be warned, doing the same for Vice City is MUCH harder, as there is almost twice of everything to do.

Overall: 9/10

RENT OR BUY: Buy buy buy!! It would be a waste of money to rent Vice City, as you could only scratch the surface of this huge game. Buy Vice City, you will not be disappointed.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/25/03, Updated 05/25/03

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