GTA Vice City Steam version - Startup errors and saves

Updated: November 11, 2017

We all know that GTA Vice City is one of the finest games ever released. I reviewed and praised this excellent title in one of the first three or four articles ever written on Dedoimedo some eleven years ago. It's a game that blends style with nostalgia in a supreme manner, and I still play it often. In fact, recently I purchased the remastered Steam version.

Alas, I discovered a bunch of problems in trying to get the game going. One, it would crash on startup. Two, the old save games from the Retail version are not compatible with the Steam version. Now, I did battle some issues with running Vice City on Windows 7, mostly around mouse control, as I've shown you in a neat little tutorial, but this was a new set of problems. Not to worry, there's a solution to all this. Let us fix the issues and enjoy GTA!


Problem statement

All right. So you've installed the Steam version. You try to run the game, but you only get a black screen. When you Alt-Tab out of this screen, you see a message about an unhandled exception. Basically, GTA Vice City crashes and does not run. If you check the Event log, you see the equivalent of this following error:

Faulting application name: gta-vc.exe, version:, time stamp: 0x48982736
Faulting module name: gta-vc.exe, version:, time stamp: 0x48982736
Exception code: 0xc0000005
Fault offset: 0x002f5330
Faulting process id: 0x1dcc
Faulting application start time: 0x01d2f353840df487
Faulting application path: F:\Steam\...\Grand Theft Auto Vice City\gta-vc.exe
Faulting module path: F:\Steam\...\Grand Theft Auto Vice City\gta-vc.exe
Report Id: d52ba670-5f46-11e...

The second issue is - provided you get the game going without any problems - your old save games do not work in the Steam version. They either do not show, or cannot be loaded, or when you try to load them, it starts a brand new game. You want to be able to use the old saves, though.


Let's fix these buggers, shall we. As to the first, it is caused by one and a half problem. The main reason is that the new gta-vc.exe executable is not compatible with the built-in security mechanism in Windows called Data Execution Prevention (DEP). If you have DEP enabled, you will need to create an exception for Vice City.

Go to Start menu > Computer (right click) > Properties > Advanced System Settings > Advanced tab > Performance Options, click Settings > Data Execution Prevention tab. Here, you will probably have Turn on DEP toggled. Good. You want some security, and in this regard, DEP plus EMET is the way to go. Click Add to create an exception. Search for the gta-vc.exe file. The Steam installation will be located under:

<whatever>\Steam\steamapps\common\Grand Theft Auto Vice City\gta-vc.exe

DEP, begin DEP, exception added

Once you've added GTA executable, click Apply. The game should now launch. But you may discover that your mouse is not working - again. The remaining 0.5 of the problem. The reason for this is the leftovers from the original Retail game version install of the configuration file, which is located in My Documents. You will need to move this file away and start fresh, but this will require settings the in-game screen resolution (it will be 640x480 by default) and any key bindings you may have made. However, this will give you the correct and full control of the game's menu, as well as mouse buttons working as they should. The settings file is located under:

C:\Users\<user>\Documents\GTA Vice City User Files\gta_vc.set

Move it or delete, start the game, and you're all set! The game runneth!

GTA runs 1

Gave saves!

Now, this is a big one. You do not want to lose all the old goodies you've accumulated through blood and sweat and tears and many, many long hours of hard game. Well, as it turns out, the Steam game save format is different from the Retail format, but there's a conversion tool that can help. It's called Vice City Save Converter, and it can indeed help you convert between two games versions. Very neat. Best of all, both Windows and Linux ports exist.

You download the ZIP archive, extract it - and use the tool against specific save files. You need to use the exact name of specific save files and you also need to hit Y to confirm the conversion, otherwise the tool may not complete. Once you have the new save file, place it under My Documents. The path is the same as the configuration file we manipulated earlier:

C:\Users\<user>\Documents\GTA Vice City User Files\<name>.b

Here's what the execution of the tool looks in Linux:

./VCsaveConvert <filename>

Convert save 1

Save convert 2

And the old saves now work perfectly!

GTA runs with old saves 2

For those asking, in Windows, you can drop the save file onto the converter, which might be a little clunky, or by running Start > Cmd, navigating to the path where you placed the VCsaveConvert.exe file, and then run it in the exact same way as the Linux example:

VCsaveConvert.exe <save file>


Here we go. These two tricks should help you enjoy GTA Vice City once again, Steam or Retail. The legend cannot be stopped. New technology brings along some difficulty and obstacles for ancient games, and it started with mouse problems and then escalated into crashes, and finally, we had problems with old saves. But such is the popularity of the game that thousands strive daily to make it better, to find solutions and workarounds, to keep Vice City alive and beating.

I hope you find this little guide useful, as it covers a handful of problems you may encounter trying to play the Steam version of the games. Chiefly, startup problems due to DEP; we need an exception for that. Then, we removed an old config file to make everything run smoothly, especially your mouse. Lastly, we also converted Retail gave saves into the new Steam format, which allows us to continue enjoying in-game progress from all those years back. Speaking of nostalgia. Well, that would be all. Happy journey on the memory lane to the 80s.