Review by Ryan Gillam

"Good, but not perfect."

Grand Theft Auto, the ultimate "Boys Toys" series, in the UK if you had a Playstation 2, you would buy this game. The first game in the series was brilliant, the second lacked the originallity of the third game, so Rockstar needed a quick plan, and that was for a 3D version, not everyone thought that would go well, but Grand Theft Auto 3 was one of the best games ever, so here we are 2 years after that with an EVEN bigger game, larger map, more cars, more weapons, less missions. The less missions isn't so good, but there is still a plethora of things to do in this game, it really is one of the greats.

Vice City, a city based on 1980's Miami. The lush beach streaching for miles with the sun reflecting of the everlasting water. It sounds nice doesn't it, but all that is changed when Tommy Vercetti arrives in town. This is a game about doing whatever is possible to win, steal cars, shoot people. No time for sunbathing here, you got money to pay off. The plotline is brilliant, money has been stolen and Tommy Vercetti has to get it back, I can't say much more than that as there a plenty of twists. There are also loads of side missions, you have the normal storyline missions, and then you have extra missions for gangs in the area, there is always something to do.

There is now the feature in this game, where you can actually buy property to use as a save point, or buy a business to sell drugs and illegal cabs on the side. Even buy a used car shop and steal cars to sell. Every business an aspiring criminal could want is in Vice City. The funniest thing is that you can run a childrens Icecream shop, which is just a front for selling drugs.

We all love fast cars, but in this game there are also fast helicopters, cars and even tanks. Every type of transport you want except trains. The boats are no longer one type that could be sailed in Liberty City, there are boats for every situation, sailing boats, coast guards and even a ferry, which sadly you do not get to sail in. The best addition vehicle wise is the helicopters, there is nothing better than flying over the moon lit Vice City, there is so many sights, that you would not be able to see if you were walking. It is breath taking how much effort has been put into the city, on ground and above. Sadly, although there is an airport there are not any planes to take off in. This was a big downside to the vehicles, but still there are over 150 types to ride, fly or sail in, so you will not get bored.

The best thing about all Grand Theft Auto games is how non-linear they are, you can basically do whatever you want in any order. Say one day you want to kill a few people, the next you may just be taking it easy and getting some hidden packages.

The size of this game is also 3 times bigger than Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto 3. There are 2 islands, an industrial side, which is where most of your buildings will be purchased, and a sea side resort on the other island, the scenary is always changing. One moment you can be in the slums of Little Havana, with rival gangs shooting at you and doing a bit of car jacking, drive for a while and you could be in one of the two malls, doing a spot of weapon shopping. So there is loads of to do. A great way to earn money in this game is to knock off a few stores, stick your gun up at the shop keeper to get some money.

The sound, has always been great in the Grand Theft Auto series, and this game is no exception. You have all the classic 80's hits, from Micheal Jackson to some unknown bands, that you know the songs off, but the bands are long forgotton. You also have some talk radio stations, which are hysterical with some of the conversations, I can honestly say this is the only game where I have actually throughly enjoyed the sound. Not many games do that now, it is entirly focused on the Game Play and graphics.

One of my critisms about this game though, is the lack of missions to do, in the previous games of the series, there were loads of missions to do, whereas this game only has 55. These can be done quite quickly and only a few of them requires a lot of skill. But the short missions have been made up for by the amount of "Mini Games" in it. You can drive R/C cars, do banger racing or some stunts on a motor cross bike, the choices are endless.

In this game you can now change what you wear the suit your style, want to do a touch of golf, and by golf I mean get a golf club and hit a few people, well then put on some golf clothes. There are around 10 different things to wear in this game, and more can be unlocked.

A great feature that I feel Rockstar have implemented to stop people cheating is that if you use any cheats at all, and then save the game, you cannot get 100%, this makes you complete games, the good old English way.

There is so much fun to be had in this game, you can just get loads of weapons, stand in the middle of the street and let rip, then try and avoid the police, this is extreme fun, or of course you can get in a helicopter and tour Vice City.

Money is needed a lot more in this game, it is not so easy to come by as in the previous games, so this does add a greater challenge to it, because you will need money to build properties to live in and shops to "sell" things.

I enjoyed the way that when you do buy a business, you will have to do a series of missions so that it becomes financially viable. The length of this game is so long, to complete it, you will need to do everything, and this will take a good couple of months, if you spend hours a day on it, so another flaw would be that it will take up your life.

There is so much game play, I have already mentioned the length, but on top of that there is so much fun to be had, not directly related to the story. You can see how long it takes you to ride across to the other side of the city, pick up the "women of the night" so you can recover a little health, or just find the many Easter Eggs in the game, and there genuinly is a real easter egg, chocolate flavour to be exact, this is a hoot to find.

Even the Games Manual makes the game seem as real as possible, it is very colourful and actually laid out like a tourist guide with jokes and gags galore in it, which is brilliant compared to the normal black and white, non entertained Playstation manuals.

This game is rated 18 for a reason, it is very violent, just perch on a roof and take a passer by out with a sniper rifle, or aim at someone on a motor bike and watch them fall off while the bike continues into the distance. A lot of people under the age of 18 have this game, and it doesn't effect people that much, so I do think the rating is a bit harsh.

Ok, in a city by the sea you would think that Tommy Vercetti would be able to swim right?? Wrong, he cannot swim, which does seem a waste as the boats in the middle of the sea are impossible to steal unless you have presicion jumping. So you will most probably die by drowning. Maybe in the next Grand Theft Auto they can add it so that the main character can swim.

In a change to the previous Grand Theft Autos, Tommy no longer works alone, he has a property developer, Solicitor and a friend out for revenge on his side, although they are not main characters it does add a sense of story, which the previous games lacked. The voice acting is great as well, for the first time ever, the main character speaks, which is good. I found it very annoying in the third game that the main character did not speak at all, so that is a small yet good addition to this game.

Finally, on to graphics, they are wonderful, both in an out of cut scenes. But in the cut scenes the hands do look slightly stubby. This does not really happen in the actual game though. The character models are detailed perfectly, if only there are a few types walking around the streets of Vice City, as sometimes you will be walking along and see a group of people that look exactly the same. So more could have been added to this. The buildings are modelled realistically to give the impression of a living, breathing city. However the buildings seem very small when you are flying.

Another new feature is that you can now enter some of the buildings. The only bad thing here, is that the interiors are quite small, but you will not need to go into buildings much.

The combat is OK, when shooting. But the melee combat is hardly good, if someone had spent just 2 weeks on this, rather than making up dodgy and rude names for cars and buildings then they would have an almost perfect game, which is very rare on modern consoles.

You should buy this game, you can get it for less than £20 which is cheap considering that you will getting months of endless game play.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/18/04

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