Review by Talis

"As close to perfection as it gets"

Rockstar has once again upped the bar in the video game industry with the release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for the PS2, the sequel to the out of nowhere hit Grand Theft Auto Three.

STORY 10/10
The year is 1986 and you play as Tommy Vercetti (voiced by actor Ray Liotta- Good Fellas, Blow), a man who is fresh out of prison after a fifteen-year stay. The Forelli family, for whom you did the time for, is eager to get you back on your feet, but not in Liberty City (setting in GTA3), so they fly you down to sunny Vice City, where things don’t begin exactly as planned.

As soon as you start playing Vice City, you’ll notice the vast improvement in the way everything looks compared to the previous installment, some thanks in part to a higher polygon count. The game runs at 60 fps, unlike GTA3. The draw distance is also much better. Cars look much more realistic as do the collisions and explosions. Buildings look great. People look better, yet still not perfect. The weapons look authentic and the environmental effects, as well as the water are also vastly improved. Colors are brighter and the lighting looks better then ever. The interior locations are also near perfection.

SOUND 10/10
Wow, Rockstar really has outdone themselves once again. The radio stations are back and filled with all the eighties music that we love to hate. The commercials and radio people are amazingly funny, most of the time. Also returning once again to the radio are Lazlow and Fernando Martinez who are just as hilarious as they were in GTA3. From Michael Jackson to Grandmaster Flash, the radio is filled with a wide variety of music. Also, since there is around nine hours of radio chat and music, you can assure yourself that for the first few months of playing, you’ll always be hearing something new.
No complaints about the sound effects. Everything sounds as it should and the voice acting is some of the best out there. Lastly, there are around 9000 lines of pedestrian dialogue, as opposed to GTA3’s 3000.

The control scheme in Vice City is pretty much the same as it was in GTA3. You can now press the R3 button to duck and holding in R1 centers the camera over Tommy's shoulder. The control is as tight as it gets and fully utilizes the PS2 controller.

One the more important factors of what makes a game good is the gameplay, and Vice City does not disappoint here. It takes everything we loved in GTA3 and makes it better and deeper. With more than one hundred missions and deep story line, you’ll rarely find yourself without something to do. The secondary missions are back, such as the vigilante missions, hospital missions, etc. There are even some new ones like being a pizza delivery boy. Money now plays a much more important role and is much harder to come by. You can now buy real estate with your hard earned cash. Some of the places you buy can serve as save points, where as others serve as income for you, such as the taxi company for example. The targeting system is much, much better this time around. The camera doesn't get nearly as jumpy when you target people as it did in GTA3, and it feels tighter all around. There are many new vehicles to steal and drive around in, as well as the returning ones from GTA3. The addition of motorcycles, mopeds, and dirt bikes is one of the more welcome improvements. From the way you get on, to the way you’ll sometimes fly off, the motorcycles are awesome. Helicopters and small planes (some with pontoons) are also now available to control. Boats also play a somewhat bigger role in Vice City then they did in GTA3. You’ll now be able to damage cars with your melee weapons, shoot out tires (making it much harder to control the car), and shoot through car windows, adding a whole new level to the sniping aspect of Vice City. There are now several locations that you can enter, such as restaurants, malls, and clubs, you can even hold some places up. The weapons from GTA3 return, as well as a host of new weapons, such as a chainsaw, tear gas, katana, and a sawed-off shotgun, to name a few. The AI of the pedestrians and police is much better. One of the more annoying things in GTA3 was being attacked by criminals and then having the police show up and only attack you, but this is not the case in Vice City. The police will now also attack the criminals when they show up. Also returning, are the working girls, just for those times when you need al little extra health. I have only a few gripes about Vice City. The camera can get a little quirky from time to time. Sometimes I’d be in an enclosed area with a couple of stars (wanted level) and a cop or two would appear out of nowhere. Finally, there are not quite as many pedestrians about as there were in GTA3. These gripes, though, do little to detract from the game

Vice City can be difficult, but not overly difficult. It is one of those games that needs to be somewhat challenging in order to add to the overall experience.
There are, of course, cheat codes, but I strongly recommend only using those for playing around in the game. If you have to cheat though, at least make a separate save file for that game.

Replay Value 10/10
With the more than one hundred missions, the countless afore mentioned things, and more, it will be hard not to find something to do in Vice City. Whether you’re trying to find the one hundred hidden packages or you just feel like chain sawing somebody, the replay factor is almost never-ending.

Rent Or Buy??
Unless you’re crazy or you’re one of those people who abhor gratuitous violence, bad language, and sexual content stay away from this game. If you’re not and you have fifty dollars to spend, go out and buy this game right now!!

Final Score 9/10
While not perfect, Vice City is without a doubt one of the best games out there on any platform. With its deep story, awesome graphics, and tight gameplay, there is no reason why anyone with a PS2 should not own this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/31/02, Updated 10/31/02

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