Become the Vice City mob boss
The sixth installment of Rockstar's infamous Grand Theft Auto series is one of its finest, polishing and fine-tuning the formula that made Grand Theft Auto 3 such a resounding success. GTA: Vice City is a single player free roam open world experience that puts players in the blue jeans and Hawaiian t-shirt of Tommy Vercetti as he makes his mark on the criminal underworld.
Vice City is yours - it just doesn't know it yet
15 years is a long time to spend in prison, and for an aspiring criminal kingpin like Vercetti, it's enough to harden you. Voiced by the charming and intense Ray Liotta, Vercetti is the perfect protagonist for a GTA game: Streetwise, savvy, and ruthless, he becomes a conduit through which the player becomes front and center of the action in a world that promises complete freedom and control. GTA: Vice City delivers on that promise in spades.
Vice City toes the line between gratuitous violence and humor, the latter of which mostly comes from the memorable cast whose personalities amusingly pinball off of Vercetti. These are supporting characters such as Diaz, Ken Paul, or the corrupt lawyer Ken Rosenberg. The plot of GTA 6 is more nuanced than its predecessor, but remains simple at its core: Get revenge, get money, and embrace infamy.
A dynamic, free roam world
The city itself is one of the major characters of the game, and is fully realized with a living, breathing personality of its own, one that cannot be ignored. Vice City takes place before the events of GTA 3, and shifts from the prior gritty urban environment to a bright and colorful coastal city inspired by Miami. This cheerful, thriving atmosphere belies the seedy, sleazy underground that drives the story forward.
As you speed down the road in whichever fancy hijacked vehicle suits your mood, you can observe the city around you going about its day-to-day: Sports cars zip down the roads while, boats parade through the water ways. News copters hover overhead while rival gangs pursue turf wars in the streets. You can choose to intervene, or you can just cruise along and turn up the radio (be sure to check out VCPR for laughs).
The atmosphere is reminiscent of crime drama nostalgia like 'The Godfather,' 'Scarface,' or 'Carlito's Way', and that's in large part due to the voice acting work of the cast. Full voice acting was rare back in 2002 when this game was released, and whether you played then or are booting it up now for the first time, the performances and attention to detail are professional quality, even down to the period-correct radio stations.
How does it compare to Grand Theft Auto 3?
GTA 3 is the closest game you'll get to Vice City. It's fair to say that Vice City merely improved upon an already successful formula. For better or worse, Vice City doesn't break much new ground, but instead polishes what already made the series stand out. The quests in Vice City are more multifaceted and complex than those of GTA 3, which typically amounted to glorified fetch quests.
By comparison the missions of GTA 6 don't feel like one-shot ideas, but building blocks towards a legitimate goal: Vercetti aims to run this city, and there's a ladder he must climb before he can do so. It's the continuity and the macro game of manipulating the city to work for you that keeps players hooked for the long haul.
Does this game hold up well?
Vice City is the GTA's older formula at its best, but some of its inherent technical aspects and older gaming conventions have aged rather poorly, especially when compared to more recent free roam single player sandbox games such as the Just Cause series or Far Cry. The controls for jumping and aiming are passable, but lack the smoothness and intuition modern day gamers have come to expect, and the lack of swim controls is downright silly for a game that features a boat right on the box art.
Compared to more recent GTA, Vice City is bare-bones and clunky. The game's camera is unwieldy and leads to frustrating crashes into objects and unintentional missed turns. Boat controls sadly have not improved either, and missions such as Diaz' yacht are so poor that it's often better to simply go the long route just to avoid entering the water.
The textures of GTA 6 are lackluster and uninspired by today's standards, and LOD suffers on top of that. It's a good thing the voice acting is so good, because the human models are low-res and can barely emote. On the flip side of the coin, this makes it easier to run the game on mobile devices or older hardware. Despite its large size Vice City runs great on iPhone.
Leave the gun, take the cannoli
GTA 6 takes the best elements of GTA 3 and polishes them to a mirror sheen, offering about 30 hours of gameplay in a straight run. A completionist will find 70+ hours of content. Grand Theft Auto Vice City is the pinnacle of old school GTA. If that's the retro experience you're looking for, then this is the game to get. If you're looking for an alternative game, we recommend you to try GTA San Andreas too.
GTA 6 has a handful of new vehicles to add to the mix, including street bikes, dirt bikes, big hogs, mopeds, and (our favorite) helicopters. Say goodbye to the days of drones that only fly three feet off the ground! Take to the skies! Oh, and did we mention you can attack people with a chainsaw? Have fun with that.
Compared to earlier games in the franchise, GTA 6 also features a deep money laundering system tied to its real estate. This added facet solves one of GTA 3's biggest (and silliest) problems: The player has more money than they know what to do with. Once you've filled out the armory of weapons and upgrades in GTA 3 there wasn't much to do with gluttonous cash overflow.
In Vice City Vercetti can outright buy businesses to build up his prestige in the city. Around the game's midpoint you'll be given the ability to buy property and upgrade it for passive income. Spend this money on better hideouts and gear, and it begins to feel like a genuine slow takeover of the game map, and towards reigning as the criminal kingpin you set out to become.