gaming since 1997

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

The incredible success of Grand Theft Auto III didn’t leave developer Rockstar poor, this controversial game is still ranked high in international charts. Reasons enough to make a sequel ASAP and so GTA : Vice City was born. Dark Liberty City is replaced by Vice City, a town inspired by Miami. The sun, the sea, the beach and a whole lot of guns, what does a man want more … (red. eurm *cough* sex *cough*)

What caught my eye immediately was the atmosfere in Vice City. The very solid, dark atmosfere from GTA III completely disappeared. Everything now looks very 80’s, very groovy. Disco’s, neon, hawaï-shirts and freaky hairstyles are all around, just like bikini’s.

The story commences when after years, Tommy Vercetti (our Jack-of-all-trades has a name now) is finally released out of custody. His superiors send him to the idyllic Vice City so he can start off with a clean sheet. Your first mission is to sell some drugs with your colleagues. Unfortunately it turns out to be a set-up and 2 of your mates are killed. You can barely get away, but both the drugs and the money are gone. Of course your boss isn’t too pleased with this situation and you get to play from here: your main objective is to find the killers and retrieve the drugs as well as the cash.

You start off as a small criminal in rough Vice City, with your gay lawyer as your only companion. You simply got a nice hotel to save your game, but in order to get some money, you accept some small missions from local gangs or rich pigs. Slowly you build up your reputation and your pile of cash by heading off to complete some more important (read: harder, but more profitable) assignments. After time the game also becomes more humoristic, which frequently leads to hilarious situations. Or how else would you describe a hysteric rockband defusing a bomb in the back of your limousine …

Unlike GTA III, Rockstar now dared to let two-wheelers race through the city. There are 4 different ones: a scooter (great for cruising over the highway), a cross-country motorcycle (for all the dirty jumping), a true Harley (for the “leather-jacket-guys”) and a race motorcycle (very fast and handy). You can also perform small stunts with your favourite motorbike, including a wheelie and a stoppie.
Obviously the game also contains a lot of four-wheeled vehicles. Next to the cars that survived GTA III, there are some new ones, including a golf cart, a comfortable convertible, etc. You can race on the streets aswell with powerful Ferarris and Lamborgini’s, and as usual every car has its own invented name. With over 120 different vehicles there really isn’t a lack of variety.

But there’s more, cause in Vice City you can also travel by air or through the water. You can navigate some different boats, some helicopters and even a waterplane, which you can use to explore the air freely.

However, a GTA-game without guns is like a bar without great Belgian beer. The amount of weapons has grown impressively and now features all sorts of arms. You can only carry one piece of each type of weapon, but this certainly isn’t a disadvantage, because the size of your arms collection can already be a little frustrating when you’re changing guns.

Let me give you a small enummeration: now you got a screwdriver, machete, hammer, sword, golf club, chainsaw, Colt, SPAS shotgun, MP5, PSG1, remote controlled grenades, … very extensive but according to me a bit over the top. A lot of attention was put in the melee weapons, but they are the most unusable of all. The hack ‘n slash fun doesn’t last very long, which I think is a shame.

Still, even the guns aren’t always that useful. I find the aiming system rather disappointing. Most guns have an auto-aim function, which theoretically indicates the nearest enemy. Unfortunately, this isn’t always what happens. Every now and then my gun was pointed at an approaching foe, while the guy gunning me down was ignored. Or I was aiming at a near enemy … who stood behind a wall. Needless to say bugs like that can cause a lot of frustration in awkward situations. Luckily Rockstar acted generous and provided us with foes who don’t shoot very accurate. And as long as you’re not situated halfdead in the middle of some angry thugs, you’ll probably survive Vice City …

… But do be adviced not to go for a swim. Another thing that bothered me: Tommy doesn’t know how to swim! Falling in the water means dying, which is rather stupid.

In Vice City you won’t be forced to spend your whole miserable life out on the street. Now you can enter some buildings and explore them on the inside. Cool, but the camera flaws can be a real pain in the ass. Especially when walking up the stairs or through small corridors, the angle of the camera is often abominable.

Luckily after a while you get used to these imperfections and the true GTA-fan can finally be found. I think an excellent addition is the possibility to buy properties. Amongst other things you will be the owner of a taxi company, a filmstudio (which is in fact a pornstudio … yeah!) a printing house and last but not least a gay bar. Whenever you’re not on a mission, you can save your game there, but you can also complete some tasks. After accomplishing these jobs this property will produce money, which you can collect there from time to time to fill your piggy bank.

For some assignments Tommy will need to change his outfit. After the mission, you can find these clothes like a golf outfit, an overall, a flashy suit, etc. at specific places throughout the city. If some cops are chasing you, they won’t recognize you when changing clothes. However this only works with a low “wanted level”. This so-called “wanted level” indicates how many cops are on your tail. The more havoc you cause, the more police you will anger. But you can also lose your pursuers by repainting your vehicle at the local “Pay ‘n Spray” shop, for a small tip of course.

At last, let’s have a word about the graphcis and sound. On first sight, the graphics are very nice, but even so the engine still has its limitations. It can only show around ten vehicles at the same time, which gives the streets a rather empty view. You will never encounter any traffic jams and when the cops are all over you, don’t count on seeing too much regular cars.

Fortunately Rockstar had special attention for the sound of vice City. De effects on the street are sweet, but once you get behind the wheel it really starts to rock. You will only recognize a few radio stations (including Flash FM and Fever), cause all the other stations were replaced by new ones. VRock is my personal favourite, where host Lazlo (indeed, thé Lazlo from “Chatterbox” in GTA III) twaddles through the rock tunes. You will also encounter familiar songs, because Rockstar took a license on some songs from the 80’s. You will hear “Billy Yean” from Michael Jackson, Iron Maidens “Two Minutes to Midnight” and many others. And such ambience is just what this game needs.

In conclusion: Vice City guarantees fun for weeks, fun that will probably last longer than GTA III. With more possibilities, a lot of additions and crazy humour, this is definitely a worthy sequel to last year’s hit on the PS2. It’s a shame it demands a lot from your console, which results in some negative points. Also the fact that Tommy can’t swim, the buggy aiming system and the sucky camera need some improvement. Rockstar still has a lot of work to do if they want to make their next GTA game a new hit!

Our Score:
9.0
related game: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
posted in: PS2, Reviews, Rockstar Games
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