Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for the PC needs no introduction. Not only is this game in many ways better than its amazing predecessor Grand Theft Auto III, but it's also technically superior to the original version of Vice City that was released on the PlayStation 2 a number of months ago. Like GTAIII for the PC, Vice City is identical to the original PS2 version in terms of content, so if you've already played that version to death, you won't find the PC version to be much different. However, the PC version of Vice City does offer enhanced visuals and controls, improved loading times, and a few extra frills. More importantly, it offers the same refreshingly open-ended gaming experience, which has occasionally been reviled for its controversial subject matter, but has far more often elicited much-deserved praise. Simply put, if by some chance you've put off playing Vice City up till now, don't wait any longer.
GTA: Vice City is an excellent follow-up to what was an amazing game to begin with.
To be clear, Vice City is an extension of Grand Theft Auto III, rather than a completely overhauled sequel. That's definitely a good thing, because GTAIII's freestyle gameplay was extremely entertaining and offered tremendous replay value, yet still had more potential. Vice City fulfills a lot of that potential, as it features improved production values (including over eight hours of licensed music and plenty of Hollywood voice actors), new types of drivable vehicles (motorcycles, helicopters, and golf carts), new weapons, better vehicle damage modeling, indoor environments, and more.
Yet the most obvious difference between GTAIII and Vice City is that in the new game, you're in a brand-new setting, a sprawling city styled after Miami, Florida, circa 1986. Laced with neon and featuring miles of beachfront property, Vice City simply looks a lot more pleasant than GTAIII's oppressive New York City-inspired Liberty City. Nevertheless, like Liberty City, Vice City is actually a den of corruption and evil. And it's your playground. You're free to roam Vice City on foot or in any manner of vehicle you can get your hands on, and you can undertake a wide variety of action-packed missions, explore the town, wreak havoc, or whatever. The game's convincing physics and terrific atmosphere make any of the huge variety of activities available in Vice City enjoyable in themselves, and even greater than the sum of their parts when you put them all together. You'd be hard-pressed to find a single-player action game with more variety than this one, and Vice City will more than likely surprise and impress you even if you've already played GTAIII to death.
Rather than put you in the role of a nameless, voiceless antihero like GTAIII, Vice City lets you assume the role of Tommy Vercetti, a tough guy who has just gotten out of the slammer. He gets himself back into trouble fast when a drug deal goes bad and he barely makes it out alive, so the basic plot of the game is to get the drug money back and take out the double-crossers. In so doing, you'll get to kill all your enemies, buy up the town's priciest hot spots, and eventually become Vice City's resident crime lord. Vercetti, who is expertly voiced by Ray Liotta, is a likable and memorable protagonist, and many of the other characters he'll meet, like a crooked lawyer and a South American crime boss with an explosive temper, are also well done.
As Tommy Vercetti, you'll have a lot of dirty work to do, but you'll have a blast getting the job done.
Vice City pays closer attention to its characters, making the proceedings seem more cinematic and more story-driven than GTAIII, which was criticized in the mainstream media for letting people live out their sociopathic fantasies. Regardless, if you were surprised by GTAIII's unflinching portrayal of mature content, be advised that Vice City doesn't pull any punches either. And, like GTAIII, Vice City somehow brings to bear a truly inspired dark sense of humor amid all its violence and chaos. Smartly written dialogue, scathing social critique and caricatures, and a remarkably well-done depiction of '80s excess make Grand Theft Auto: Vice City far more than just a game about causing mayhem.
The story missions in Vice City are generally more complex and often more entertaining than those of GTAIII. They're multiple-stage affairs, often requiring you to take out various targets, make deliveries to key areas, drop someone off in exchange for something, and so on. They're fun, and they also do a great job of introducing you to Vice City's gameplay and new features. You usually have multiple missions to choose from at any given moment, and, true to the game's open-ended nature, many of the missions play out quite differently if you attempt them multiple times. Like in GTAIII, you can also steal squad cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and now even pizza-delivery mopeds and take on various peripheral missions in them, all of which make for fun diversions. The game's save system, which requires you to constantly return to a specific save point, is identical to that of GTAIII, so it might slightly frustrate those accustomed to being able to save anywhere and at any time. But since the missions aren't that long, being able to save your progress only in between missions simply helps maintain the game's pacing, forcing you to accomplish each of your objectives in one, dramatic take.
Of all the additions to the gameplay, the new vehicles are the highlight. Various types of motorcycles and helicopters join a huge variety of cars, trucks, vans, boats, planes, and more, letting you get around Vice City however you wish. Just like the cars, the motorcycles and choppers handle convincingly, and the motorcycles in particular allow you to reach some ridiculously high speeds and pull off some truly insane stunts, if you so choose. The game's vehicle physics are realistic only for the sake of fun and visual authenticity. The vehicles handle very well even when they've been beaten up front and back.