Review by KasketDarkfyre

"An extended episode of Miami Vice"

Rockstar Games has become something of a household name to the video game community with the release just a while back of Grand Theft Auto III. In order to appreciate the Grand Theft Auto games and what the current Vice City has to offer, you have to go back to the days where you had no real dimensions on the GTA World and you looked at from the sky. From the days of driving from place to place and connecting on drug deals and otherwise, you’ve been propelled forward into the days of now seeing the world around you in exceptional detail and realism while you commit your crimes. With more things to do and places to go as well as new vehicles to drive around, how could you possibly go wrong?

The Story

In Vice City, you retake the role of Tommy Vercetti who has just gotten out of jail and is caught in the middle of a drug deal gone wrong. From the start, you’ll find the sheer magnitude of Miami Vice inspired themes that follow you from start to finish in your criminal career of Vice City. You’ll run into Columbian drug lords and petty thugs as well as a seemingly Carlito’s Way-ish lawyer and some of your business dealings will be done with a Scarface flare! The story itself is broken up after the beginning with friends becoming enemies and your enemies becoming road kill.

The Game Play

As with Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City works off of a missions theme in which the game progresses only as fast as you want it to and your skill with a firearm is only as good as you make it. When you need wheels, you don’t have to worry about going and buying one, just run up to a car and rip someone out of it, hit the gas, change the radio station and fire away up along the streets. Some of the more interesting features that the game has to offer are that you can now control different vehicles and you’re no longer limited to the standard fare of cars and trucks. Now you can steal motorcycles, dune buggy’s and boats as well as helicopters and the long-rumored airplane from Grand Theft Auto III.

As for actually playing through the game, the missions that you encounter get progressively difficult throughout and you’ll find that you cannot proceed past a certain point without completing the difficult missions first. This isn’t to say that there isn’t anything to do, but in order to really enjoy the story that the game has to offer; you must complete everything that there is in Vice City. As you move along, you’ll be able to buy businesses and homes in which you can earn ‘legitimate’ money and have someplace to rest your head or hideout from the cops. Eventually, you will even be able to start your own gang, but first you have to work through being a simple hired hand to do so.

Killing sprees are still apparent throughout Vice City in the forms of Rampage missions that allow you to kill people and nearly get away with it. It’s still difficult to get away from the cops once they are onto you, but the fun part of Vice City is popping the cops as well as the local citizens. Other various missions such as the Taxi, Ambulance, and Vigilante missions all make reappearance in Vice City; so fans of those small game play variations will rejoice. Weapons can be found almost anywhere and if you’re short on cash, then kill a couple of people on the street and pick up some loot so you can head on down to Ammunation for something a little more powerful.

Control that you find in Vice City is nothing different than what you might have played in Grand Theft Auto III and moving Tommy throughout the city, killing and maiming or simply going from place to place is nothing too difficult. As you move further into the game, running, jumping and shooting will be the most difficult things that you can do, and as long as you can learn how to handle the different vehicles as you get them then there is nothing that you cannot accomplish. The button layout is easy enough that anyone can learn and veterans to the series should be able to pick up on it in just a couple of minutes. New to the control feature are weapons that now have a targeting reticule for easier control when picking someone off with an automatic weapon.

The Visuals

The visuals that you find in Vice City are essentially a copy over from Grand Theft Auto III with a more Miami Vice look to them. The city is sunny and the locals walk around in bathing suits {skimpy ones at that} depending on how close to the beach you are. The further you move into the neighborhoods, you’ll be able to see the different local establishments and what kind of places they are by the detail. The details themselves are rather diverse in both the way that you look at the world, but the hands of the characters in the cut-scenes still don’t move, but rather flail wildly as though they are disconnected from the rest of the body.

Other visuals in the game that you might appreciate are the way that the cars roar and even the explosions, new animations on the bikes on the boats as well as the helicopters. If you can get into the theme of the game and truly enjoy what there is to offer, then you should have no problem working with what Vice City shows you. You’ll find that the camera seems to play a role against you at times and objects seem to get in the way if you’re not careful which could lead to some serious problems in the middle of a gun battle. With that in mind, pay attention to the clothing changes and the jobs that you pick up; small easter eggs change small details in the game the further you get.

The Audio

The first part of the audio that you might come to appreciate is the fact that there are eighties tunes on every single channel with soft rock to heavy metal. There is nothing like blazing down the road listing to an old Ozzy Osbourne track on the rock station while performing a drive-by shooting. Of course, if you’re more into the mellow tunes, you can find some Toto and Don Henley playing on some of the other stations that are perfect for that nighttime hooker in the backseat someplace a little more secluded. These small instances of Miami Vice really show what the game was modeled after and if you’re a fan of the show, you might even hear Crockett’s Theme in there somewhere!

The sound effects make up another portion of the game and you’ll find that there is plenty to hear in both the voice acting and the ambient effects throughout the game. With the cut-scenes, you’ll get the down home feeling of working with a Columbian drug lord and even the Hispanic Street gangs. More of the sensory immersion to keep you drawn into the storyline, you’ll even get to hear Tommy yammer about working for jerks and other more explicit names. At one point, you’ll even be graced with the presence of Tubb’s as one of your crime partners. All of these things continue to keep the theme and the story rolling along and make you feel as though you’re living an extended Vice episode.

The Verdict

Vice City has something to offer to everyone whether you’re a Miami Vice/Eighties fan or not. With the strong voice acting, the difficult and frustrating missions, and yes, the wanton killing that is a Grand Theft Auto staple, Vice City has it all. However, you might find that the game itself has too many ties to the Grand Theft Auto III that most of us have played in the way that the basic visuals and cut scenes seem to play off. Other various problems that come into the works that might throw off some gamers is that some of the missions are insanely difficult to work with and can cause controller throwing.

If you’re a GTA fan, then you’ll find Vice City to be an extensive game with dozens of hours of missions and game play time, familiar control and the hapless killing that we’ve all come to know and love. Worthy of purchasing, if you’re new to the series and want to experience it for yourself, then try renting it first {good luck on that} and make your decision from there. However, you might be passing up the “Game of the Year” if you’re not interested in at least giving this one a quick go. With games such as Vice City, I’m more than interested in seeing what Rockstar has up their sleeve for the next installment in the Adventures of Tommy Vercetti.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/28/02, Updated 12/28/02

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