Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
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10  |  Grand Theft Auto Is Back
larsoncc , 11/26/2002 4:34:13 AM

Steal a beautiful Trans AmThe sweet, slow music of Peter Gabriel provides stark contrast to rough talking, fist smashing gangsters in the opening sequence of Grand Theft Auto, Vice City.  There were three of us in the room watching the opening sequence, and all of us muttered words of praise immediately.  And we haven't stopped; this game is simply stunning. 

Playing Vice City feels like shaking hands with an old buddy.  If you're familiar with the controls in Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA3), you won't even need to pick up a manual to play this game.  All of the controls that you are familiar with are back, minus the glitches and jerkiness that made GTA3 somewhat frustrating.  Targeting opponents has become a breeze, because your character is far more likely to go after the person that you intended.  Driving has also been made easier, as most of the roads seem a bit wider.  And the difficulty level has been ratcheted up a notch to keep the player engaged.

If you've never played any games within the Grand Theft Auto series, be forewarned.  Playing this game is like taking part in the movie "Goodfellas."  Both contain high levels of violence, swearing, blood, and unwholesome concepts like stealing trucks.  This game is not for children, and I'd pity society if children were allowed to play this game.  Like "R" rated movies, though, kids can't buy this game.  It is clearly marked as adult, and the stores that I visit (Target, FunCoLand, Best Buy), require proof of age when purchasing games like this. 

Jump that Harley!That said,  this game does appeal to adults.  Like a good movie, nothing will break the suspension of disbelief with this game.  The way that the character moves and reacts is very natural, and the missions are complex enough to keep the players attention.  But Vice City excels in doing what GTA 3 did well.  You don't have to keep on track with the missions - the game lets you explore an entire city, do crazy stunts and side missions, and just wander around for days if you want.  As in GTA3, the side missions are loads of fun, from jumping a huge ditch on a motorcycle, to going on rampages, there's something new every couple of blocks in the city.

In case you hadn't heard, Vice City is set in the indulgent 80s.  The city is modeled loosely around Miami, and has the same problem as Miami in the 80s, drug runners.  Naturally, you're more a part of the problem than the solution - this game could be described as Miami Vice in reverse.  Since the game is set in the 80s, there is plenty of 80s music to go along with the game.  The sound track is ridiculous - there's dozens of tracks of 80s tunes, in every genre from rap to dance/salsa.  And these are the real deal - full tracks, all from the original artists.

Everything else in Vice City helps keep the 80s theme tied together.  The design of the buildings, the car models, the outfits that people wear, and the topics discussed on talk radio will give the player "Hammer Pants" flash backs.Fighting at a club, with women of ill-repute in the background

There is so much to this game, that it's a daunting task just to describe the scope of Vice City.  When I stated that you play in a city setting, I mean exactly that.  You can travel to every point within the city.  Each block truly feels like a city block.  Vice City's depth and size need to be seen to be believed.  It is so much larger than GTA3 from the outset that it's almost daunting.  There is enough in Vice City to keep the average player occupied exclusively with this game for months.

If you're an owner of Grand Theft Auto 3, you'll need to save your pennies for Vice City.  Vice City is far better than GTA3 in every way, without compromising the philosophy of GTA3.  If you've never tried either game, it's time for you to head out to the store and get this game.  At very least, give the game a rent.

If you don't like it, give it to me.  I'll take it off your hands for free.

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