"I took 2 days off from work and played this game for 14 hours straight."

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the follow up to last years mega hit Grand Theft Auto 3. Building upon the bigger, better, louder, faster theory, Rockstar North delivered the goods big time with this game.

With more expansive environments which now include indoor settings such as an airport, 2 shopping malls, various stores, a couple office buildings and a couple of homes, Vice City is roughly 2-3 times the size of gritty Liberty City. From the sun washed beaches to the grimy back alley streets of Little Havana, Vice City has all the right tools to create an immersive, interactive 3-D world that not only talks back to you, it slaps you right across the mouth.

Although at first play, the game starts off slow and it seems that this might be GTA3 all over again. The first time you hijack a motorcycle, moped, or Harley you realize that this is not the smash hit from last year. THIS IS THE SMASH HIT OF 2002 AND 2003. It just feels right. This years game includes all new vehicles and revamped old ones. 2 wheeled vehicles as well as Helicopters are introduced into the mainstay. Fully functional planes are added to the mix, and boats that can actually break the speed limit are used thoroughly this time. Mission structure is also more complex this time so you won't feel like an overpaid courier anymore.

The stellar voice acting has also returned. Ray Liotta(Good Fellas, Blow) is the voice of the protagonist Tommy Vercetti and he is backed up by Burt Reynolds(Striptease, Boogie Nights), Dennis Hopper(Speed, Apocalypse Now), Philip Michael Thomas(Ricardo Tubbs from Miami Vice), Lawrence Taylor(Any Given Sunday, Pro Football Hall of Famer) and Luis Guzmán(The Count of Monte Crisco, Traffic). Lazlow also returns to the series as the host of Vice City's Vrock radio station.

The familiar radio station returns. The stations range from the Hip Hop station to the 80's power ballads, and feature more than seven hours of hit '80s music, with tracks from groups like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run DMC (R.I.P Jam Master Jay), Kurtis Blow, The Psychedelic Furs, Mr. Mister, Night Ranger, and A Flock of Seagulls. The now standard talk station increases to 2 stations. KChat, hosted by the airhead Amy Sheckenhausen and the hilariously funny Maurice Chaves on VCPR (Vice City Pressing Issues).

Vice City is more vibrant and active than gritty Liberty City. The city is bathed in a neon glow at night and drenched in fresh Miami sunshine during the day. Pedestrians (peds) have more scripted lines this time and react to each other in both realistic and unrealistic fashions. You will see them rollerskating up and down the beach front, lying on towels in the sand, playing in swimming pools and basically chillin. Expect to see peds getting into accidents, cops chasing gang members, gang members shooting at each other (and you), people waiting for the bus at the bus stop (and gasp! people actually getting on and off the bus!) and general/random mayhem which gives the game a feeling that you are actually participating in a living breathing world. All very cool stuff.

The only reason I give this game a 9 instead of a 10 is because there is frequent pop up and smearing. There will be times when driving at high speeds and the ground will literally become translucent giving the impression that I am driving on water. The smearing can be partly fixed by turning the trails off in the in-game menu and I have read about some people turning down the color and adjusting their television settings. That may work, but I shouldn't have to go through all that trouble to get a sharper picture. There has also been times when going over a bridge and it will disappear completely causing a very cheap death. Although this hasn't really happened too much it is worth noting and deducting a point from the score.

Finally I have to say this. THIS GAME IS NOT FOR KIDS UNDER THE AGE OF 17. THIS GAME HAS AN M RATING. M FOR MATURE. I'm not saying that kids can't play it (cause I'm nobody's parent) because of the violence, violence is a mainstay in videogames and it's here to stay. I'm saying it because of the overtly suggestive sexual themes and images. Some of these themes and images are simply not for children.

That's all. Have fun!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/05/02, Updated 11/06/02

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