Gaming on a Budget: Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Following the massive success of Grand Theft Auto 3, we witness a mafia hit man, Tommy Vercetti, as he travels through his drug riddled and criminal infested path to finding the people responsible for setting him up in a drug deal gone wrong. Soaking up in the bask of the mid 80’s with glam metal, drug lords and good ole’ fashion American culture, we get to experience a crime infested, Miami based city in all it’s pixelated glory.

 

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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Platform(s): PC, PS2, Ps4 and Xbox

Developer: Rockstar

Released: October 31st, 2003

Price: $4 (Ps2, Xbox) $14.99 (PSN Store on PS4) or $9.99 (Steam)

 

You’ve got insurance, so don’t be a prick.

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Swinging straight for the bloodlust of every pre teen in the early 2000’s (becoming the best selling game of 2002) leading to the present day, this game set the tone for violence and a third person open world experience like no other besides it’s predecessor, GTA III. Ripe in controversy , Vice City spared no attention to modest and humble gameplay, instead Rockstar earned it’s Mature rating with a Scarface like approach to violence, mountains of drugs and sexual content. From  rampage drug epidemics, Cuban and Hispanic gang rivalries and oceans of dead bodies you leave headless or ran over in your race to the top of the food chain, this game caused not only special interest groups to gripe over parental supervision, but also caused Cuban-American/Haitian-American civil rights groups  and even New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatening the company with legal action if the parent company Take-Two didn’t edit some scenes. Even after lawsuit after lawsuit, the demand to create a realistic environment where you could hijack vehicles, murder at will and pick up prostitute to “replenish health” continue to trend as10325761_1065373613518944_6171153258698404746_n.jpg Rockstar established a ingenuity not met with existing games at the time. Boosting a more colorful palette that amplified the feeling of being in a Miami setting, over 90 tracks of the greatest hits from the 80’s and a cast of voice actors such as Ray Liotta and Gary Buesy, the authenticity of feeling like a uprising hitman is unparalleled.

 

Not be confused as a prequel to GTA III and it’s war with the Colombian Cartel and Yakuzas, GTA Vice City actually takes place before the events of GTA III and sure enough some of the characters you encounter within GTA III gain a back story during Vice City but the protagonist for both are two separate people. Constructing a story around the drug infested suburban areas, political corruption and old fashion criminal actives we explore a area 2-3 times the size of Liberty City. With more in depth missions than we were used to such as picking up items, drop offs and killing people now we are exposed to blackmail, intimidation and even taking over different properties.

The Gameplay

Rockstar took the Renderware engine used with GTA III and pushed it to it’s absolute limits, giving us a more “real feeling” with the light shadowing, color palette and a physics system that allowed a more weighted feeling when operated cars. Pedestrians appear more 12923104_1078457602210545_8181971848579956322_n (1)organic, engaging among each other and reacting to your actions more intensely and for once in GTA history we witness the Police finally responding to other crimes outside of the ones we commit. The targeting system, though a bit flawed, is a huge improvement compared to GTA III as well, now targeting victims that are close in proximity and allowing for more accurate kills in the game. The threat system itself makes aiming and killing the enemies after you so much more of a enjoyable experience than accidentally shooting innocent pedestrians. We are introduced to a more experienced and savage game play this time around. Cops are much more responsive to taking you down by means of spike strips, shooting your tires out or a finer tuned pit maneuver. Driving cars seems more alive, different cars have different “feelings” with driving, convenience stores can be robbed now to gain extra cash and even different properties can be purchased to gain a steady flow of cash and different services they provide. Bolstering over 100 different vehicles and 40 different weapons at your disposal, the mayhem is literally at your fingertips.

GAMERS PANTHEON SCORE:  83% 

Traveling back to a younger adolescent version of myself, I would’ve graded this game a lot higher. The graphics at the time were chunky and blocky at times as it is currently but they had a certain charm to them that made this game unique. The pulsating soundtrack matching the Miami Vice atmosphere complimented each other extremely well along with the different NPC the game has to offer. I will say I have been spoiled with current gen graphics so that probably weighs heavily on my opinions with this game but as a whole it has aged well, just a bit quirky with the controls at first. Overall this is a game that helped set a standard games of this genre and set the expectations of future games in the Grand Theft Auto Series even higher then it ever was before.

 

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Pros- 

  • Took the vibe of the 80’s and ran with it, executing a comical side to murder, exhortation and more.
  • Nine hours of the biggest hits in the 80’s and various talk shows, almost 3x that of GTA III
  • A larger and more colorful city compared to Liberty City
  • Fully flyable helicopters, drivable motorcycles and the ability to use boats
  • A weapon arsenal of 40 weapons (25 more than GTA III offered)
  • 120 different drivable vehicles

Cons-

  • Certain actions feel choppy, or not very fluid in certain areas of the game where the direction changes swiftly
  • The camera angles can be a struggle to manipulate at times
  • Car, pedestrians and the background “Pop-up” and depending on speed may cause some accidents or collisions during chase scenes or getaways.
  • Although the aiming has improved tremulously since GTA III, there were sometimes it was difficult to aim at enemies or free aim

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