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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Review By:  Dan Peters
Developer:  Rockstar North (DMA)
Publisher:  Rockstar
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Action
ESRB:  Mature
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  12-11-02

Grand Theft Auto.  In the PS1 days, this was one of the most controversial games ever released.  It had some terrible graphics for a PS1 game, but it had a fairly big following, and made Rockstar a fairly decent amount of money.  Grand Theft Auto II.  The game received less-than-stellar reviews, but many people enjoyed the hell out of it.  Was pretty much the same basic game but there were minor improvements here and there.  Grand Theft Auto III.  Everybody expected this game to be a hit... but not this big of a hit.  It sold nearly seven million copies in less than a year.  Everybody has the game and loved every second of it (except a Mr. Jared Black, who has yet to play it  :P ).  [Ed: Lies, all lies!]  This game also became controversial because of its violent content (wah, wah).  Now a year after that huge hit made a splash, the sequel has n! ow hit store shelves.  Grand Theft Auto:  Vice City had to live up to a lot of huge expectations, and not only does Vice City live up to those expectations, it surpasses them.


Story-wise, Vice City doesn't have anything to do with GTA3.  It has some little in-jokes (like one of the characters from GTA3 makes a brief appearance), but other than that, this is a whole new storyline.  Tommy Vercetti has just finished a lengthy jail sentence in Liberty City, and now he is on his way to Vice City.  He meets up with his old boss, Sonny Forelli, and is given the job of picking up a whole lot of money.  But the deal goes sour as everyone but Tommy is killed, and the money is taken.  He then learns that Vice City is a city of corrupt politicians and dangerous gangsters.  So Tommy sets out to make an impact on the city, and take it over for himself.

One thing that amazed me is the number of recognizable voices you hear in the game.  Tommy Vercetti is voiced by Goodfellas star Ray Liotta, Sonny Forelli is voiced by Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down star Tom Sizemore, and other voices are provided by the likes of William Fichtner, Dennis Hopper, Danny Trejo, Burt Reynolds, Lazlow Jones (reprising his role from GTA3 as himself), Gary Busey, Luis Gazman, and Jenna Jameson (who plays a porn star, not suprisingly).

There are many new vehicles/aircrafts in Vice City.  There are motorcycles in the game, and they're a blast to ride.  It takes a while to get totally "in-control" of them (since they handle a little differently than cars, and are easier to wipe-out on) but they're a neat addition to the game (some missions also require them).  There are also planes and helicopters, but those are a pain in the ass to control at first.  Once you get the hang of them, however, they're a breeze, and they'll help you dodge the cops in missions where your wanted level can get up to five stars (meaning there are cops everywhere waiting to take your sorry ass to jail). 

You can also buy assets (actually, to beat the game, you need to own every single asset).  Every asset (not including ones where all they have is a garage and a save point) has some errands you need to run for them.  And yes, you'll need to raise money to buy these assets (money actually has a whole bigger purpose in this game than in the last one).  Errands range from dropping porno flyers from a Skimmer to watching a stripper dance (yes, just sitting there spending $600 on her is an actual mission) to breaking out somebody from jail.  After you complete all the errands for an asset, the asset starts making money for you.  So each day, you can pick up some cash from the asset (ranging from $4,000 to $10,000 a day).

Aside from the asset missions, there are the side missions.  You can take missions from a biker gang, a woman who looks like Miss Cleo, a rock band called Love Fist, Cubans, and the anonymous phone caller.  Those missions range to killing a drag queen stalker to killing a pizza delivery boy.  Another way to make money and they get you closer to the 100% game completion.

There are also the "R-3 missions."  If you are in a special vehicle, and you press the R-3 button, you can go on little missions.  Police cars will let you play as a vigilante killing criminals.  Taxi cabs will let you pick up and drop off passengers.  Ambulances will let you pick up hurt/sick people and take them to the hospital (I find this one especially hard since one bump of the ambulance hurts your chances of getting the hurt man to the hospital alive, and ambulance doesn't handle especially well). There are also a few others including being a pizza delivery man, selling "ice cream", and putting out fires with a firetruck.


There are also a better variety of weapons in the game.  It would be impossible to list them all, but they include a hammer, sniper rifle, rocket launcher, chainsaw, minigun, gernades, shotgun, and flamethrower.  There are weapons scattered all over Vice City, but if you're too lazy to look for them and would rather spend the money, then go to an AmmuNation (note that weapons like the rocket launcher and the minigun are not available at AmmuNations; you have to get a little farther in the game to be able to buy those).  You can also buy the very useful Body Armor at AmmuNations.  Just remember that AmmuNations are your friends while playing this game.

The graphics aren't the best the PS2 has to offer, but they're good enough not to be ugly.  The characters look very good (although not greatly detailed), and they capture the essence of what it was like to live in the '80s.  The cars look a little better, and the car damage graphics are also improved.  There's some very minor pop-up (like the taxi that picks you up to take you to the last place where you took a mission from will suddenly show up out of nowhere), but it's nothing to cry about.  Not much difference from GTA3, but the graphics are still good enough to count as an improvement.

The sound is great.  The voice acting is some of the best thats ever graced a video game (all those well-known actors mentioned above also help).  The radio is, quite simply... wow.  There are tunes from Ozzy, Judas Priest, Anthrax, and a load of others for the local rock station.  There's also the jazz station, rap station, and the mix.  Then there's the one and only chat station, which is VERY funny to just sit there and listen to.  There's apparently over nine hours worth of overall radio to listen in on.  Awesome stuff.

HIGHS:

  • Awesome storyline
  • The best voice-acting I've heard in a while
  • Improved graphics and sound
  • Will provide endless hours of entertainment and replay value
  • ...so much more!

LOWS:

  • Minor pop-up
  • Some missions may be too frustrating for some
  • Has to end sometime

FINAL VERDICT:

Great, great game.  Like Joe Rolfe said in his GTA3 review, this game has Game of the Year written all over it.  It'll be the best $50 you'll ever spend.

Overall Score: 9.8

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