Review by Shady

"Hell yeah!"

Okay, let me say it right now: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is one of the best games I have ever played. It is un-****ing-believable. I loved Grand Theft Auto III, but Vice City just blows it out of the water.

Vice City isn’t really a true sequel to GTA3; it’s more like Grand Theft Auto 3.5. That doesn’t matter though, because everything in VC is twice the size of its predecessor. The game’s location, Vice City, is double the size of GTA3’s Liberty City. Vice City also features several more missions, weapons, vehicles, and just about everything else. It’s amazing.

The biggest difference between GTA3 and Vice City is that VC takes place in the 1980’s. You can expect to see lots of neon lights, funky outfits, and big hair in the game. If you ask me, the 80’s setting is brilliant. Whereas GTA3’s Liberty City was dark and gloomy, Vice City is vibrant and flashy. The game captures the 1980’s perfectly, and makes you feel like you were back in that decade.

One area where Vice City is a vast improvement over GTA3 is its fantastic story. While I enjoyed GTA3’s plot, it was a bit tiring to see the same nameless main character just sit there and not say a word. In Vice City, the main character actually has a name and a personality. You ARE Tommy Vercetti and you talk, A LOT! In the beginning of the game, a cut scene shows Tommy in the middle of a big-time drug deal. It looks like everything’s running smoothly, but then out of the blue a gang ambushes Tommy. Tommy’s partners in crime are killed, but somehow Tommy manages to escape alive. Obviously, Mr. Vercetti is very pissed off by this event. He is now determined to find out who the hell ****ed up the deal, and by any means necessary. The game’s various cut scenes (using in-game models) tell the story, and they are extremely well done and will make you feel as if you are in the story yourself.

Just like in Grand Theft Auto III, you can do anything at any time. You can advance the game’s story by doing missions, or you can just wreak havoc and kill random people for fun. The freedom that you have in Vice City is unrivaled by any other game.

Let’s say that you want to advance the story though, and with good reason. To do so, you have to partake in missions for various people in the city. These missions are no chore to go through either- they are downright fun! In fact, the missions are one of my favorite parts of the game. I loved GTA3’s missions, but Vice City’s are even better. Most of the jobs revolve around killing people and blowing stuff up, but they are all done in a creative fashion. For example, in one mission your objective is to blow up a coffee shop. However, there is one problem in doing so - there are dozens of cops hanging around the mall where the shop is located. The only way to get in is to dress as a cop, so you have to steal a cop uniform and a police car to get there safely. After you blow up the shop, both the police squad and the FBI will be after you so it becomes quite challenging. Every single mission in the game is unique and each one is a blast to play.

There are also several ''side-missions'' (a.k.a. mini-games) to mess around with. Just like in GTA3, you can play the role of a policeman, paramedic, taxi driver, or fireman by stealing their respective vehicles. Vice City also offers the option of being a pizza delivery guy. And if those aren’t enough to satisfy you, you can also look for the 100 packages hidden around the city, enter a dirtbike racing event, join a street race, rob stores, go on gang killing rampages, and do insane jumps off of ramps. There is a ****load of things to do in Vice City.

All of those side options are great ways to earn money (aside from the hidden packages, you don’t get money for those). Money is an incredibly vital part of the game, even more so than it was in GTA3. In Vice City, you can buy real estate. If you’re rich enough, you can buy anything from hotels and shacks to film studios and strip clubs. Each one serves as a save location if you need it, and some of them even offer extra missions to complete. It feels great knowing that you can have your very own businesses in the city. Real estate is an excellent addition to the game.

Cash is also needed to buy weapons. While many can be found for free hidden in various locations throughout the city, it is nice to be able to go to the local Ammu-Nation store and buy a rifle whenever you need it. All of the old favorites from Grand Theft Auto III remain, including the sniper rifle, rocket launcher, and the Molotov cocktails. There are also several new weapons to use in Vice City, many of which are the ''melee'' weapons. Now you can wreak havoc on innocent pedestrians with a chainsaw, katana, meat cleaver, and many more brutal items. With so many new ways to kill, the possibilities are endless!

Creating chaos within the city does not come without cost, however. The more bad stuff you do, the higher your wanted level goes up. Vice City uses the same six-star wanted level system that was in GTA3. Having one or two stars on you is no big deal, as all you will have are a few annoying police cars on your tail. Five stars is when it starts to really get challenging. At five, you will have a bunch of helicopters, police cars, random pedestrians, and the FBI on your ass. If you manage to reach six stars, you better get your ass running ‘cause now you will have all of the pests from five stars after you plus the army! It is ****in' insane, but it's still fun to see how long you can last at six stars. Chances are it won’t be very long.

Grand Theft Auto III had an impressive variety of vehicles to ''borrow'' in the game. There was everything from big-ass vans to slick sports cars to boats and airplanes. Vice City has all that and then some (are you noticing a trend yet?). One of my favorite new additions to Vice City is the fact that you can now drive motorcycles. You would not believe how fun it is to cruise around on a motorcycle in the game while popping wheelies! It provides an incredible feeling (well, until you hit something and go flying off, anyway). Vice City also offers the ability to use helicopters, golf carts, better boats, and more than one kind of plane. There’s bound to be some kind of transportation method for everyone to enjoy.

Believe it or not, there are a couple of (minor) things I didn’t like about Vice City. First, there are some annoying camera glitches every now and then. This is particularly noticeable when you are in a tight area and can barely move at all. Second, there are some frustrating co-op missions in the game. Now those wouldn’t be a problem except the people that you are with are ****ing morons. They will constantly get stuck against a wall or some other inanimate object, forcing you to go back and get them to follow you again. This problem makes co-op missions harder than they should be. However, with that being said, these two problems are minute and don’t really detract from the game experience much at all.

Visually, Vice City is not bad. The various character models used in the game are blocky, which is a downside, but on the flipside they are animated well. The excellent vehicle damage effects from GTA3 are improved upon in Vice City, as now it is possible to get flat tires and you can even smash up cars with various weapons (such as a hammer or chainsaw). The tedious draw-in from GTA3 is gone for the most part in VC, so now you won’t have telephone poles pop up from the middle of nowhere while you’re cruising along. The city’s neon lights give the game a bright atmosphere, which is a nice change of pace from the darkness of GTA3. Overall, the graphics are an improvement.

The game’s audio is ****ing sweet, easily the best that I have ever heard in a video game. The game offers nine different radio stations to listen to, seven music stations and two hilarious talk stations. The music station’s all have real songs straight from the 80’s. Just about every 80’s music staple is in the game - there’s everyone from Michael Jackson to Twisted Sister to A Flock of Seagulls. There’s a music station for everyone! If I could find the 7-CD soundtrack box set of the game’s music, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Seriously, this is the best music you can find in a game right now.

Once you get past the impressiveness of the game’s soundtrack, you’ll love the rest of the sound as well. The voice acting used in the game’s cut scenes is incredible. It is easily A-class material. Just like the music, the voice acting is the best of its kind that I’ve ever heard in a video game. I was very impressed by the game’s audio.

In case you haven’t gotten the picture yet, let me make it clear for you - YOU MUST BUY GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY RIGHT NOW! You won’t believe how awesome the game is until you play it yourself. I didn’t think it would be as great as everyone says, but it is even better than the hype! This is the reason to own a PS2. Get Vice City immediately!


Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 04/29/03, Updated 04/29/03

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