Review by The BlackMage
"Vice City, it makes the 80s look good."
Now, going into this game, it has a LOT to live up to, for one, it's most popular predecessor, and the only Grand Theft Auto game it's tied to, Grand Theft Auto III. However, Vice City more than beats out GTAIII and come very close to living up its hype to the fullest for the first time I can recall over the past few years in games.
Story - 10/10
This time you truly ARE a villain. In GTAIII you were just an errand boy, more or less, who ended out coming on top of the crime world without anyone every knowing who you are, or how you got to the top. However, Vice City mixes things up a bit. In Vice City you play the role of Tommy Vercetti, a recently released convict in Liberty City, a little more than 10 years before GTAIII takes place. The Mafia family you belong to decides that your release will strike fear into the consumers of their front business, effectively killing the Mafia. So they send you down to a Miami themed city down south on a little drug errand for them. Things go wrong, you're setup, and the next thing you know, you're out on your ass living from a Hotel room. Sound familiar? Once you were at the top, but you've been betrayed and thrown to the bottom of the monkey barrel. So your character decides to go hunting for the money, one thing leads to another, and pretty soon, you're conquering Vice City like a REAL mob boss. Nicely done, original for the most part, and it gives you more control over your own little world of villainry and crime.
Graphics - 8/10
Not much to say here, or see for that matter. The graphics are nearly the same as GTAIII, the game is in full 3d environments. However, being in an 80s Miami type setting, there is abundant amounts of color here, especially in the night. The trailing effect can screw you up in the sunset while you're driving, or the bright lights of the downtown district at night, but you can turn that feature off anyway. All in all, there's not much difference here, though the city is marginally larger than Liberty.
Character - 9/10
Here's something else well improved upon in Vice City. First things first, your main character now talks. He's wonderfully voice acted, I might add as well, but I'll cover all that jazz later. You're employed under a host of ''bosses'', who mostly just end up allying with you in your fight to control the city. Your best friend/ally, Lance Vance(Hey, he got enough of that in school) is there to help you in a lot of missions, and is your partner, through and through. A few others help out with advice and menial jobs, but I don't want to spoil TOO much for you.
Gameplay - 10/10
MUCH was improved here. For instance, the addition of motorcycles and helicopters. Motorcycles are quite commonly seen in Vice City, and a fast way of transportation as well. On these slimmer vehicles you can weave through traffic, use the closed off sidewalks on bridges to avoid traffic, or just ride them because it's in style. Similarly, if you hit anything going even remotely speedy, you fly off and usually get hurt. And since bikes go really fast, you'll want to practice with them for quite a bit before you ride them on missions. Helicopters aren't as hard to fly as the Dodo, which any GTAIII veteran will tell you wasn't all that easy to learn to do, and flight is now broken down into a few simple controls. X to ascend, [_] (Square) to descend, tilt the control stick in the direction you want to go gently at first, then gradually tilt it forward until you're speeding through the air. To ''strafe'' left or right, tilt the analog stick that way, and to actually turn, press R2 and L2 to turn their respective directions. Descend close to the ground and press Triangle to park and get out of the helicopter. A little challenging at first, but you won't be ramming into buildings by mistake anytime soon. Also, you can change clothes at various locations throughout the game. Change clothes during most missions, and when not on a mission to shake the cops, which works even if you change into the same costume. As for guns, you can only carry one of each type, and there's 3 or 4 of each type. Handguns, sub-machine guns, shotguns, rifles, and machine guns. To replace a gun you already have with a different one of the same type, stand on the icon and press L1. Melee weapons(Close combat, knives, bats, etc.) can also be bought, and you can carry one at a time. And last, but not least, there is a brass knuckles icon that will automatically add brass knuckles onto your fists if that's all you have out, and will disappear like all other weapons when you die or are arrested.
Music/Sound - 9/10
There's a little something from the 80s here for virtually everybody. Rap, rock, pop, hispanic music, some jazzy stuff, and two talk stations(again, GTAIII veterans think Chatterbox). Enough to keep the radio in your car on for a while, That automatically gives it a great rating. But now, voice acting and sound effects come with the package too, you know. The voices are great, well done, and I believe they all fit their characters. The sound effects from GTAIII are the same, with some cariance with new cars and the bikes. But, there's not much that could've been done about that anyway.
Rent or buy? - Buy
There's no way you can appreciate this in a rental, and maybe just barely if you play it for the maximum 30 days on a Blockbuster Game Pass. However, at this time, good luck finding a copy.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/02/02, Updated 11/02/02
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