Updated: October 8, 2006
GTA Vice City is one of the most complex and multi-dimensional games ever made. Ever.
I have not had the pleasure of playing the older versions of the game saga, Grand Theft Auto 1 through 3, but the moment I put my hands of GTA Vice City, I was instantly completely unreservedly bewitched.
GTA Vice City is about Tommy Vercetti, an ex. convict sent to Vice City to strike a large drug deal. But Tommy is set up and left without money or drugs. He finds himself a stranger in a town full of enemies. And he has to find the solution to his troubles quickly.
|Performing wild stunts with your PCG-600 bike is a sure way to earn you some extremely cool Matrix-style camera views as well as loads of cash if you're crazy and innovative enough|
Playing as Tommy, you are slowly drawn into the mesh of organized crime of Vice City, a city that bears sharp resemblance, in character and architecture, to Miami in mid-1980s, as portrayed in the very popular detective series Miami Vice from that time. Everyone is the enemy. You're all alone.
The game campaign consists of a variety of highly unique and daring missions that you must complete. Each successful missions will give you cash and unlock other missions and possibilities. You will have to fight Columbian cartels, Cuban and Haitian gangs, manipulate corrupt politicians, and befriend strange characters from Vice City underground like Colonel Cortez, a Latin American ex pat, Ken the lawyer, a fishy drug dealer called Lance, and others.
|Touring Vice City in a seaplane, which normally parks near the adult movies studio|
In a way, the game campaign is almost like a movie, except that you play most of the action scenes. Missions are interluded by geniously screenplayed animation cuts. Best of all, there is no strict sequence to the missions. You can play them in any which order you like. Except for the very beginning and the very end, anything in between is entirely up to you. Every campaign you play can and will be a unique movie of its own.
Your missions will be extremely fun to play. Among others, you will try to promote your adult movie industry by dispersing fliers all over the town, you will rob a bank, assassinate mobsters and their wives, steal military technology, blackmail politicians, threaten jury, race in every possible vehicle available, and tons more. Every new mission will astound you with its raw audacity and bittersweet twist of realism.
But apart from the superb plot, suspense and unique depth of characters involved, Vice City is a life unto its own.
|Classic Art Deco hotels look out onto Vice City's sandy beaches; at night, the streets are aglow with the kitschy, decadent 80s neon|
The thing is, even when you finish all of the missions and take control over Vice City crime, you have only completed just about 50 percent of the game. Only 50 percent? What about the other 50 percent, you ask. A-ha ...
The other 50 percent are what makes Vice City one of the most memorable and unique games that I have experienced.
What can you do in the game?
Basically, there is very little you cannot do in the game. The city, its stores, houses, cars, and people are at your disposal. You may do virtually anything you like with / to them. Here's a little list to whet your appetite:
You can knock stores and steal money. You can pick prostitutes off streets and drive off to a beach for a bit of fun; for money, of course. You can steal motorbikes, cars, boats, helicopters, and airplanes, and compete in dozens of races. You can collect up to 100 hidden packages scattered all over the city, which will gradually unlock special bonuses. You can use your vehicles to perform unique stunts, getting loads of cash for the more daring ones. You can drive police squad cars, FBI and SWAT trucks or even fly armed helicopters and play the law enforcer missions, hunting criminals across the town. You can jump on a moped and deliver pizzas.
|Dressed as a police officer, Tommy gets ready to steal a squad car and begin a law enforcement mission||Tommy leaves skid marks on the asphalt as he rushes madly toward Vice City port, in hot pursuit after a criminal|
|Hunter looks very much like AH-64 Apache; bored in the middle of the night, Tommy fires a pair of missiles at his own mansion on Starfish Island; well, the villa needed some repairs anyway|
You can drive an ambulance and play the paramedic missions, saving injured people by bringing them to hospitals. You can be a fireman, extinguishing cars and people on fire, driving a big red Oshkosh-like truck through the town, sirens blazing. You can also be a taxi driver, doing fares, racing through the city streets, dodging traffic and pedestrians. Eventually, you will come to own an "Ice Cream" factory and will be able to sell "Ice Cream" to your customers. You will be able to buy assets in Vice City, including a dance club and a strip bar.
|After a long, weary day of running around the town, Tommy relaxes in his newly purchased strip bar; as we can all see, thong was not invented in the 90s; the two blue stars indicate he's had a bit of a brawl with the authorities|
You will be able to go on time-limited killing sprees (which are a part of the 100% game completion). At various stores around the city, fresh clothing will await you if you chance to come by. You will be able to fix damaged cars in Paint 'n' Spray shops. You will gain more stamina if you run a lot in the game. It's crazy.
And you will be able to these and many more crazy and unimaginable things in a city with 2 million people, with lively AI characters that will jeer and taunt and honk if you cut them on the road or if you bump into them while walking and with policemen chasing you when you kill people, steal cars or rob shops.
|Escobar International Airport is probably the best place for super-wild stunts; the long runways give you enough road to accelerate and fly like a madman|
Your infinite escapades will also have music, too. Vice City comes with real 80s hits aired on the city's 7 radio stations, with classics like Owner of a Lonely Heart, Gold, Fascination, Crockett's Theme - the finest piece of music ever created, and more. The music is a perfect touch of style that makes the game experience several magnitudes of order better than it would have been without.
Just imagine yourself, flying in a seaplane, against the hazy backdrop of the sleepy Miami ... eh ... Vice City, flying into the orange sunrise, with Broken Wings by Mr. Mister blasting in your speakers.
Ah ... Brings back the childhood!
If you don't like the in-built music, although this sounds highly unlikely, you will be able to make your own collections and add them as custom radio channels.
|It's 05:02 am, and I'm flying over Washington Beach; the streets are quiet and peaceful, and Mr. Mister is singing: "Take ... these Broken Wings ..."|
As you can notice, the time changes. The Vice City days are exactly 24 minutes long. Likewise, the weather changes frequently. You will have sunny days, cloudy days, rainy days, and foggy days. The air will always be slightly hazy, as it is in the sultry southern Florida.
You will be able to follow your game progress with highly detailed statistics in the game menu, which will tell you not only how much percentage you have completed, but also the longest jump, the number of pizzas delivered, and every little detail you can think of.
Only for the brave
|A bright day can quickly turn into a storm|
Don't start playing Vice City if you know you will like it but do not have spare time. You will easily invest hours in the brutal fun of being a ruthless can-do-all criminal, climbing his way to the top of Vice City crime pyramid, crushing his opponents, stealing fine-looking cars, and listening to some great music. The game spares no detail, and it certainly isn't for weak-hearted or noble-minded. GTA Vice City is all about being the baddest dude in town. But it's definitely one of the better games ever made. It's well worth the money.
GTA Vice City is a relatively new game, and will run splendidly on Windows XP (all service packs). It's a bit intense, so you should have a good processor, plenty of RAM and a reasonable GPU. The game also exists in a PS2 version. In fact, the PC version was developed only after the console version.
If you're interested, you can read much more about the game at Rockstar Games site, the creator of this excellent saga. The Internet is literally crowded with sites dedicated to the game and the myriad walkthroughs, guides and reviews that offer the bewildered, shocked player ways to cope with the sheer greatness of fun GTA Vice City offers.
GTAForums is a lively community dedicated to the game. Make sure to visit it. One of the better things the forums offer is the GTA Modding - small, innocent code hacks that allow you to unlock extra features, extra places, extra vehicles, and a whole lot more. The modding makes a game with already infinite choices even bigger. Furthermore, don't forget to check GTA Vice City on Wikipedia. Another solid site is GTAGaming. If you're a fan of mad chases, wild wanton destruction and happen to have been a child in the 80s, this game is a must.
|Below the plane are the tennis fields of the posh Vice City golf and tennis club||Blocking traffic in front of a grand fountain in my l33t Sabre Turbo||Paying a scrambling jet farewell as it rolls off a runway at Escobar International|