Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the most anticipated game of 2002. Released to America on October 29th, 2002 by Rockstar, all game retailers sold out instantly. The game doesn’t have plans to reach Japan at all. Europe has a release date of November 8th, 2002. Most were already preordered while some like Best Buy sold them first come first served style, and didn't even bother putting them on the shelves as they flew out of the store.

Vice City is an instant classic, taking the Grand Theft Auto III engine and just improving on it in ways that help the game. While only in production for a year and six days the game has changed vastly.

This node will deal mostly with the improvements to the engine. It will try to avoid most spoilers, as Vice City is an almost perfect game that deserves to be experienced by the players without any detraction from its greatness.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the story of Tommy Vercetti and Vice City, which is supposed to resemble Miami. The game is set in the 80's, and makes the player feel like he is in the time period. Everything from the sounds, to the people, to the cars to the radio makes the game feel like it is the 80's.

The game starts with the character leaving jail after fifteen years and coming to Florida, a deal goes bad, money lost, and one pissed mafioso create a story that envelopes the player. Though this time the characters aren’t so quiet. There is an epic story that rages on through out the entire game. Tommy Vercetti is at the center point, creating havoc, killing people, and enjoying the scenery.

Filled with amazing scenes, and interesting links to Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City's story takes ideas from the original and expands on it threefold. To start with there are more people to be hired by. Each one needs jobs done. There are about fifteen different places to get jobs if not more.


The graphics of Grand theft Auto: Vice City have improved upon Grand Theft Auto III. The graphic system was polished to a fine shine. The system was well built, but they made the sun play more of a role. The cars become beautiful 80s automobiles. The sun is actually noticeable and annoying when it is low in the sky.

The game reflects the differences from 2000 to 1980s as well as the differences from Liberty City (New York City) to Vice City (Miami). The game feels like you’re on the beach most of the time, there is a large amount of water. There are more character models in this game. There is also the ability to change clothes that can change the feeling a bit. Running around in a fitted suit is different then running around in a tracksuit.

The games still suffer from what can be called "mystery paper" as well as "mystery palms" now. This is caused by the limitation of the graphic engine of the Playstation 2 to display a certain distance of ground. The ground is seen but the fine detail is sometimes lost in the distance. The graphics though are a huge improvement over the original system.


There is really three different fields for sound in this game, each unique in their usage.


Nine radio stations now line the dial in Vice city. Each radio station is completely different from the rest, even the two talk stations. The first song that I heard was Michael Jackson's Billy Jean. Some groups that are heard are

Though that is only some of the 78 artists playing 79 tracks. (Michael Jackson sings two songs.)

Each radio station is different. There is

Each radio station has a different feel. The rock station has a louder volume with heavy metal types, while the Emotion is more soothing. The DJs and commercials give each station their own flavor.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City changed many preconceptions including giving the main character a voice. Ray Liotta does Tommy Vercetti’s voice. Ray Liotta sounds conspicuously like he did when he played Henry Hill in Goodfellas, whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is up to the player to decide though it can remind players of Henry Hill. Overall the voices are almost perfect, though they don't sync perfectly with the video they do feel like they belong with the characters. The actors are

The game contains some of Hollywood’s top talent and the production of the cut scenes are nice, there is a lot of acting and interesting conversation involved. Especially when the main character grows and expands his influence.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City improved on the original game though there are about 30 actors for pedestrians that talk though there is less of the humorous comments. This is understandable as this is Miami in the 80s, not New York City in 2000. Though the game does remain funny, the feeling that your in the city is greater.

Each gun also sounds different. The sniper rifle sound is easily identifiable by the single shot, the chainsaw's roar is perfect. There are so many weapons and each one does sound different from the rest.

Overall the sound system has a much improved feel, the radios are completely new, as are the voices.

Game play

Without graphics and sounds, Grand Theft Auto is still Grand Theft Auto because of the game play. The whole engine from the original game has been revamped. No longer is the main character able to carry three hundred guns and have a billion dollars.


The first change that is noticeable in the game is that the game is based in the 1980s. The money therefore is based on 1980s where instead of 1000-dollar jobs or missions in Grand Theft Auto III, the characters get 100 dollars. This expands to all extended missions including ambulances and taxis. Money is much harder to come by, but money buys more. The weapons in the game are impossible to find, though they can be purchased at any of the ammunitions or hardware stores.

Money can also be used to buy "safe houses". At first there is only a hotel, but as the game progresses the player can buy other places to "live" and save progress. There is no garage at the beginning but like stated, the new houses can contain garages. The game requires money to be achieved, and money is always a problem until late in the game. Weapons can’t be found every five yards as in the original.


The second difference in the game is that the game got a lot harder. No longer is the player able to kill thirty cops in ten seconds. The missions are harder then in the original game. The cops became more organized and harder to slay, though still possible. The missions will keep you thinking of interesting ways to beat them.

Then comes the new cars and vehicles. Most of the vehicles have remained though the introduction of a few vehicles has made fans cheer. The first new vehicles that can be seen are the motorcycles. There are "crotch rocket" that are called PCJ600, dirt bikes are called Sanchez, Harley Davidsons are called Angels or Freeways, and Scooters called Faggios. Each one plays a little different. Also while on most of the bikes the player can pull wheelies and stoppies.

There are also many new boats in the game from speed boats to yachts to Coast Guard boats. Each one acts different, and each one has their own perks.

Also included in the game is air vehicles, unfortunately there is only one plane. The plane is a nice big full winged seaplane that is easier to fly. There are also five different versions of helicopters that can be flown. There are three versions of a regular helicopter and two versions of a bubble shaped helicopter. The controls are simple but enjoyable for them.

Finally the vehicles are now true objects in the game. The vehicles can easily be damaged by punching or slashing at them, in addition the tires can be shot out of all vehicles easily, and tend to happen when the missions get harder. The tires make the vehicle change from smooth driving to impossible in less then a second. Using an aimable weapons wheels can be shot easily.


Flying, driving, and boating may be fun but what makes the game is the violence, and for violence there should be weapons. The game does not disappoint in this area. A new weapon system has been made. Tommy can only carry one weapon of each type.

  1. Fist Weapons
    1. Bare Knuckles
    2. Brass Knuckles
  2. Melee Weapons
    1. Screwdriver
    2. Golf Club
    3. Night Stick
    4. Baseball Bat
    5. Knife
    6. Meat Cleaver
    7. Machete
    8. Katana
    9. Chainsaw
  3. Explosives
    1. Grenades
    2. Molotov Cocktail
    3. Bomb and Detonator
    4. Tear Gas
  4. Pistols
    1. Colt 45
    2. Colt Python
  5. Shotgun
    1. Chromed Shotgun
    2. Spas-12 Shotgun
    3. Stubby Shotgun
  6. SMGs
    1. Tech-9
    2. Ingram MAC
    3. Uzi M9
    4. MP5
  7. Rifles
    1. Ruger
    2. Colt M4
    3. Sniper Rifle
    4. PSG-1
  8. Heavy weapons
    1. Mini-gun
    2. M60
    3. Rocket Launcher (RPG)
    4. Flamethrower

There is eight types of weapons allowed. The hand-to-hand combat is more important in the game, though ranged combat can always be used. The game does make better use of the targeting system, though it is not perfect yet.


The final change to the game is mission wise. There are a total of 15 people to get missions from and each one is a different type of person. The missions are much harder in the game and each place involves a person with only one person on the phone.

Overall the game play feels completely new while staying the same, which is more then what should be expected after only a year in the works.


Sadly this game has critics. Many people purchased the game expecting a completely new game. The fact of the matter is this game is Grand Theft Auto III with some new add-ons and a more in-depth story. Overall the game is a lot of fun for fans of the series, but not a completely new game. Grand Theft Auto IV has been announced, but no dates have been set for it. During the waiting period Vice City does a good job to quiet the yearning for free range violence.

A note: This game is amazing similar to Grand Theft Auto III. The game is violent, involves questionable material and may not be suitable for everyone. While this game has not been pulled, it is rated Mature.

Congressman Joseph Liberman from Connecticut has already stated that Rockstar's game has caused the 2002 Washington area sniper attacks and demanded that the sniper rifle be pulled from the game. The fact that the game had gone gold made it impossible to do so but the fact that this game was already called detrimental to society before its release is an interesting proposition.

The Nov. 4, 2002 issue of Time Magazine featured an article on Vice City. As kinglink's writeup alludes to, there is and will continue to be considerable outcry from the mainstream family-values touting politicians and media about the Grand Theft Auto series. However, the Time article really impressed me. The writer gave a very objective view of the game, correctly pointing out that while the game did contain considerable violence, it was somewhat different than the violence present in games like Quake. If you shoot some random joe, you might get chased by the police. Or you might not, depending who you shot. It's not total senseless violence. In Vice City, if you senselessly kill someone, there's no reward and no fanfare. It's boring. The writer went on to conclude that Vice City really transcends the video game medium - it borders on something that could be called art.

Personally, I was delighted to see the game get the recognition it deserves in a popular media outlet. Vice City is not my favorite game of all time, but I will concede that it is probably one of the most extensive and impressive games ever made. Though it is really the same engine, it's a much more mature game in the attention to detail that you just don't get in GTA3. One of my favorite features is how the city is really stratified. In 3, the city was basically all the same. The same builings, the same architecture. In Vice City, you can taste the difference. You can drive down Ocean Drive ("the strip") at night and be bathed in bright technicolored neon lights, or you can visit the run-down, dirt-road lined shantytown slums of Little Haiti, complete with the tourism bureau billboard proclaiming "LITTLE HAITI: LIFE'S A BEACH"...only the "EA" in beach has been changed to an "IT" by the locals with spraypaint.

Then there's the addition of a heliocopter, a motorcycle, and better boats. They used real music from the 80's instead of fake music like in GTA3. The talk radio station is wittier and more incisively political and social. I wonder what the religious right would think if we told them GTA was a legitimate, protected form of social commentary? Parody is, after all, protected by free speech.

Maybe it's not perfect, but it's pretty damn close, especially for a video game on the somewhat underpowered PlayStation2. It's a game that really appeals to the American audience - finely tuned to the sort of sarcastic wit combined with wanton carnage that American gamers seem to enjoy (which is odd, considering Rockstar is based out of Scotland. It amazes me that they had their finger so perfectly on the pulse of 1980's America). It's also a game for people who want to make games themselves. As one such person, I personally drool at how they managed to fit an entire city into the PlayStation2's 32MB of RAM. The period is brought to life perfectly both in graphics and sound, and you can almost taste the dank tropical night air. The atmosphere is incredible.

There's something in GTA:VC for everyone, especially people like me who used to consider themselves too good for shoot-em-up, violent games. It's not that kind of game, it's the saga of a man living in period America. Shooting people just happens to be his job.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Five notches on Rockstar's belt for the GTA series, but is enough enough?

Obviously not yet, because Vice City has made record sales so far out of all the GTA games, and no small thanks in Australia to the censory board. Vice City is perhaps the most controversial game to date in Australia (and perhaps the rest of the world), it created more fervor at the beginning of this year than even the infamous carmageddon. It was released late this year (2002) by Rockstar and is now available for all to run amok in the streets of Vice City.

Unfortuneately, the engine hasn't been revamped at all, its exactly the same as Grand Theft Auto III, and while this is very nice, it does cause problems. Regardless, the highly detailed cars are back, this time with highly detailed bikes and helicopters to boot. The reflect the flurescent lights of the city, crumble as you smash your way through traffic, and look realistic while at it. A bit of extra work has gone into making the character models move more realistically, but without a graphics revamp, its gone to waste. As the characters slap each other on the back, link arms or make other physical contact the still blocky hands and arms graphics are made glaringly evident; but at least they still look good otherwise. The city scapes are beautiful also - especially so at night when the city glows with bright pinks, blues, greens and purples - not to mention the immensity of said city scape.

Yet, here is the problem with the now outdated engine - popup. This is a very obvious problem, made obvious because of the size of the city, thus nuch longer streets than previous games. As you drive along you will suddenly notice a blurred object on the horizon... is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! Its a very badly rendered distant car! Wait, you are now on top of the car because you're in a fast car - oops, crash. But now you decide like the car you just crashed into, so you chase it; alas, it goes out of pop up and is swallowed into the magical nether void of Vice City. Yes folks, the "memory" effect found in the previous games is back. It was virtually eradicated in Grand Theft Auto III, but it plagues Vice City due to its large size.

Sound definently deserves a mention, as it is back in all its glory. The numerous comedic radio stations are back, ranging from hip-hop, to pop, to talk back radio. The time period is the 80's, and you'll even find rocking 80's music on most of these stations! Cars sound good, as do the other vehicles, but the ambient sounds are somewhat diminished from the previous game. This is, once again, due to the size of the city. In the previous game the scuffle of pedestrians' shoes, the distant rumble of cars and the mumble of people could be heard as one travelled the streets; and while this has been retained it is not as realistic and does not feel as homey.

Don't despair, there is still hope! Car diversity has increased, and new vehicles have been added. Veterans of the GTA series will be hit with a dose of nostalgia as the bike is reintroduced to the game, which was excluded from the last game. Boat transport has been retained, but new to all is the helicopter! Available in both RC and regular size, you now have the ability to shoot from a stolen police helicopter, fly a helicopter solo or commandeer an RC van with a bomber RC helicopter. This really adds some great fun to the game and is a welcome addition. The time of day effect has been retained also, and you will find more of a certain type of car at a certain time, and in certain areas as per usual also. But another horrid problem plagues the game again, and it is another memory problem. In Grand Thef Auto 2, but especially in Grand Theft Auto, the player would sometimes walk out onto the street to find absolutely no cars in the street. This is back, and while it does not happen often, it does happen - and usually it is during a mission when memory is at a premium. This is terribly irritating, as sometimes you require a car to chase after a mission objective, but cannot find one, hence failing the mission.

The cops are back and better than ever! AI is, as expected, somewhat smarter than the previous (but don't worry, you can still laugh at their occasional stupidity as they dive into water and roll their cars trying to get at you). There are also increading levels of intelligence, cops being the dumbest, then cops on bikes, SWAT, undercover cops, FBI and finally the army. Yes - undercover cops are in this game, and they are tricky! They drive Cheetahs (a sports car), often catching you unawares and busting you before you can even figure out what happened! SWAT are a hell of a lot smarter too, and when you reach the fourth cop rating they start dropping down from helicopters on ropes! One must also be very careful when reaching the third cop rating, as tire spikes are used, and the cops can shoot out your tires, making for very difficult get aways. The cop ratings are now as follows: 1 Cops chase you if you come across them, expires after a time; 2 Cops actively persue you; 3 Cops use tire spikes and send undercover cops; 4 SWAT teams persue you; 5 FBI teams persue you; 6 The Army is sent to crush you.

Level progression has been dumbed down even more than in Grand Theft Auto III. This time, as the name suggests, you are in Vice City, which happens to be the second level from Grand Theft Auto (as Liberty City from Grand Theft Auto III was the first level from Grand Theft Auto). Its about thirty times the size of the original one, however, and has three major islands. There are bridges connecting the islands, and while all are closed to begin with (like in the previous game), you do not need to clear out the first island in order to progress to the next. All the bridges are opened in very short order, after completing a set amount of missions, but then the entire city is open to you - nonlinearity may ensue.

The game is still, unfortuneately, linear, as it was in the previous game. In GTA and GTA 2 the player received jobs from non-descript payphones, and had free choice from many missions. The level ended upon reaching a certain score goal, but in the previous game progression was ensured by completing set missions. This is back strongly at the beginning of the game, however after the first two major mission "strains" it picks up a small amount of non-linearity. You now have free reign over what real estate you buy (an awesome addition) and what mission "strains" you do. Yet it is still event based progression, in that once you have completed certain missions the final "strain" becomes available.

One great addition is a stronger themed storyline, set in the raging 80's. Tommy Vercetti, your character, is not a mute (praise the lord!) and actually responds with smart arse remarks and a heavy American-Italian accent that makes you feel like you're a part of the family. The story so far is that Tommy, recently released from jail, is given a job by his boss to go to Vice City and close a deal on some Grade A Columbian Cocaine so that the Mafia in Liberty City can break into the drug market. When Tommy makes the deal, however, it goes sour, and all involved are killed; excluding the hero of course. He now must recover the stolen money and drugs before he gets his balls cut off by his boss (literally).

The final aspect of the game that I must comment on is its controversy. In Australia the censory board delayed its arrival for several weeks in order to succesfully censor the game for Australian release, and the publicity it generated was immense. Pre-orders were massive and the game probably sold better than it would have if they had left it well alone. Yet I don't blame them, because this game gets nasty. Once again you can solicit prostitutes, however Australia doesn't reveive this privelege, but Rockstar has gone one step further. Among the weapons available for terrorism include a screwdriver, hammer, machette, knuckle dusters, baseball bat, golf club and a chainsaw. This provides for some rather gruesome beatings. Long story short - this isn't one for the kids. Hell, this isn't one for any morally upstanding person regardless of their age.

Despite its flaws, Vice City is a worthy succesor to the GTA bloodline. It will carry the torch on (though I believe that Rockstar may have just pushed the controversy a bit to far this time). I recommend it to fans of the series, and anyone with a bloodlust that they need to sate (better to do it in virtual reality than reality). I really don't recommend it for young people or upstanding citizens, but for the rest, great fun to be had!

Final Verdict:

Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 4/5
Gameplay: 4.5/5
Playability: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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