The release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City comes just a year after the phenomenally successful Grand Theft Auto 3. That game sold over seven million copies in the U.S., making it the biggest selling game of the year. On top of the sales success, GTA3 received quite a bit of attention, good and bad, from the mainstream media.
It was good, clean, ridiculously ultra-violent and wide-open fun. Given the game’s prominence in last year’s public consciousness, Rockstar could have been forgiven for rushing out a tie-in game while the iron was still hot. GTA:Vice City, however, certainly doesn’t feel rushed. It is a marvelous game that improves on nearly every key aspect of the original.
The most startling change in the newest GTA is the move geographically to Miami-like Vice City and temporally back to the 1980’s.
Although the city is fictional, the music playing on the radio and the fashions sported on the street are spot on. For me, the new setting is far more appealing than the modern Liberty City of the original. And it seems more dynamic and interactive also, since players can explore inside buildings and rob businesses, which could not be done in the original.
The gameplay hasn’t changed much. Like GTA3, Vice City allows the player to either work their way through the mostly linear main missions or to focus on sub-missions involving warring gangs.
To achieve 100% completion, players will also have to complete a ton of occupation-specific tasks and find all of the hidden packages and insane jumps and rob all of the active businesses. Again like GTA3, doing all of this takes a long time, making Vice City a great value. Adding to the value is the fact that it is still fun just to move around the detailed city swiping cars and causing havoc.
Graphically, Vice City is a step up on all fronts from GTA3. The city is more detailed and more sharply rendered. The character models are improved as is the draw distance and texturing. Really the only graphics problem left over from GTA3 is the occasional frame rate hiccup. In all, GTA Vice City offers strong evidence that the Pc can compete graphically with the market’s more powerful systems.