GTA: Vice City is the sequel to the smash hit of last year, Grand Theft Auto 3. Most of you have probably already gone out and picked up this game, but Console Gold can still deliver a review for it, right?
Vice City revolves around Tommy Vercetti, a man who just got out of prison in Liberty City. His boss, Sonny Forelli, moves him to Vice City because he’s no longer one of the top men in the Forelli family. So, Tommy goes off to Vice City to expand the family business. He meets up with a lawyer and they go to do the usual drugs for money hand-off. It goes wrong and the money is taken. Sonny gets pissed off over this and Tommy says he will get the money for Sonny and to just give him a little time. This is where the story begins.
Vice City is in many ways an extension of Grand Theft Auto 3, which is probably why it was not given the Grand Theft Auto 4 title. The gameplay mechanics are foundationally the same, but some things have been spruced up. One of these things is the inclusion of a better target lock technology. By hitting the R1 button you can lock onto a target to fire at. To go through the targets you hit L2 or R2 while the R1 is still down. This is very helpful when you are hugely outnumbered in a room. This is far better than GTA3‘s target system. They can probably refine this more though.
The graphics this time around are brighter and better than GTA3. Vice City is the polar opposite of Liberty City. There are tons of lights, nice beachfront areas, palm trees and a general brighter life than in the dark trenches of Liberty City. Of course all is not bright in Vice City. There are many gangs and many factions that you can piss off. Vice City is as much a cesspool as Liberty City was, except this time you are not the only criminal on the street (there are other people who steal cars and shoot people on the street) and the city is far bigger. One of the greatest things about the game is that Vice City is so large and that you have access to a large part of the map in the beginning of the game. There are storm warnings that block some of the bridges, but after a bit they subside and you are able to go anywhere. There is a lot of space to travel in this game for all your different missions.
Speaking of the missions, they seem much more varied in this game than in GTA3. Heck, you can even deliver pizza in this game! In this game you even have help sometimes in key missions. Your friend Lance Vance will help you a lot during the game and other people help you as well, especially in huge shoot-outs. The whole package feels so much larger with the missions. Just like GTA3, some of the missions can be very tough, although in this game some of the missions can be rather lengthy. There are a lot of tough missions in this game, but do not get too frustrated.
Another key thing that brings this game up a notch from GTA3 is the inclusion of the ability to purchase property. There are places around Vice City that have a circle with a dollar sign inside of them. This is property you can buy with the money you have. The only minus is that you have to acquire the first property before you can get any other property. Buying up property not only gets you new missions, but it also gives you storage places for cars and save points so you do not have to drive all the way across town to save the game like you may have to do early in the game.
I cannot go far without talking about the vehicles you can use in this game. There are automobiles, motorcycles, helicopters, boats, RC vehicles and one plane to control in this game. My favorite names in the game are the Faggio (a scooter-type vehicle) and the Sanchez (a dirt bike). In the realm of cars there are tons of sports cars in this game. Be careful with the sports cars though, their handling is a little tough. My favorite sports car with good handling is the Cheetah. It is the least likely to fishtail when breaking while at full speed. The helicopters are easily the most difficult vehicle to pilot. It is quite realistic in how it moves (via my time with helicopter simulations on the computer), but things just seem a little clunky. Helicopter travel is easily the best way to travel long distances though.
Gun setup is a little different in this game. You have different classes of weapons. You can only have 1 weapon in each class. Therefore you can have 1 shotgun and 1 pistol, but not 2 pistols at your disposal. Ammu-Nations are well stocked around the area though and there are some missions where one weapon would be a better choice to use than another weapon in the same class. There are a lot more weapons in this game than there were in GTA3, yet another example of bigger and better.
Finally we talk about the music and the sound. This is easily the best soundtrack every in a video game. I grew up in the 1980s (ages 4-14) and I have an older sister that still listens to 80s tunes a lot. It is great to hear all of these 80s songs on this game. Rockstar went many extra miles in getting the rights to all these songs along with Sony. I love the Vrock station the most, but the commercials are still as hilarious as ever. The funniest thing is that there are 2 Michael Jackson songs in here and he is currently suing Sony over racism. The sound of the game, especially in DTS, is exceptional. If you have a DTS system, you should listen to this…it is monumentally better than the stereo mix. Only problem is that you have to choose “Use DTS” every time you load a game. The key with the DTS is that there is no center channel, so basically it is a 4.1 system instead of a 5.1 system.
Note from Short Take: I complained about the close-up camera and my dislike of the camera options in my Short Take, but since then I have gotten used to them. I still think GTA3 is slightly better in this option, but that game did not have as much graphics to portray as Vice City does.