Title: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City System: PS2 Genre: 3rd Person Action/Adventure Requires: 1 Controler, 1 Memory Card Players: 1 Forefathers of Note: GTA 1, 2, 3 Price: Now availible at some locations for as low as $75.99 (Canadian).
Overview: This game has a lot to live up to. The hype that this game received was insane. Everyone was raving, and magazines everywhere called it a potential GOTY before they even received a hands-on copy. As the sequal to the wildly popular (and excellent I might add) GTA 3, Rockstar had a very good template to work on.
The story is about a man named Tommy Vercetti. Tommy is sent to Vice City by his boss after doing a stretch of about 15 years in jail. Upon arrival in Vice City, Tommy finds himself in a deal gone bad, and the money is gone. His boss is livid and wants the money back. Whats Tommy to do? Take over Vice City of course.
Whats New?: A bunch. A bunch of new cars, new vehicles (like helicopters and moterbikes), a bunch of new weapons (like a chainsaw). More voice overs in the cut scenes, more interaction with predestrians, more radio stations, authentic 80's ripoffs, plus the usual tweaks that sequals get (control improvement graphical refinements, etc). And look out, cop AI has been modified in a mansized way.
Graphics: Funny thing happened on the way to Vice City. No longer is the town you travel in dark and dull, it's now bright and looks vibrent. The attention to detail is pretty good, and the textures in a whole look alright. During one of the missions you have to fly a plane and drop posters off the plane. After that mission, the town is littered with those very posters. IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT! The cars look excellent, and they're definitly a step up from GTA 3. The explosions look much better too. There's not much in the way of slow-down, which I was glad to see. People's animations can sometimes be choppy, but that's to be expected with that many people there at once and that much movement.
Except for the cut scenes.
The cut scenes are, other than a ittle touch-up here and there, are graphiclly the same as GTA 3. The sound is great (see below), but there's not much of an improvement in this area. Also, I don't know with they wanted realism or something else with the mad lens flare you get when you look at the sun, but YEEEEESH, that is SO annoying. THe overall graphical presentation occasionally looks like it could've been improved with a little more time....but I can understand why Rockstar felt content with this, as it's quite acceptable. 4/5
Sound: The game's strength in presentation is definitly the sound. The cars sound great, the weapons sound as they should, the voices of pedestrians are golden, the casting for the voice-overs was very well done. The radio stations still rule, and I don't know anyone who was born in 1982 or earlier who won't have some fond (well, maybe just deep) memories of the 80's after hearing some of those 'classic' tunes. And even then, they got stuff like Lazlo being at the Rock station after saying on Chatterbox in GTA 3 that he got booted off the Rock station (Vice happens before GTA 3). LITTLE THINGS! Pedestrians now have a wider variety of things to say (especially when they're mad), and the police are ALWAYS good for a few classic lines in the heat of a chase.
They wanted to keep the feel of GTA 3 and just make it bigger, and Rockstar succeded in doing so. PS2 wise, this game has argueably the best sound around. 5/5
Control: If this game was just to be inside the vehicles, then this would be 5/5. I mean, the cars control better here than in most RACING games. Helicopters control better than they have any right to (and they're good fun to fly), moterbike physics are REAL (don't hit a curb at full speed without poppin' a wheely first). Drive-bys are still the same, but now you can do'm on the bikes and on certian helicopters.
But sadly, sooner or later you're going to have to get out of those vehicles and have to walk around. The targetting system on foot has been improved but still leaves a lot to be desired. Small jumps that you may do by accident will sometimes make you lose health. And trust me, there will be some missions you'll be doing over and over again because of the controls on foot. The overall button layout is the same as in GTA 3, which is a good thing. 4/5
Fun level: For those in the 'mature' demographic, this game will be fun. For late-teens, this game will be fun. For everyone else, stay away. The mature style of the game doesn't lend itself well to kids. Overall though, the game is a lot of fun. I mean, who really doesn't like driving around in cars, doing stuff we can't do in the real world listening to some great tunes. Plus the shear scope of things to do (like pizza delivery, vigilante missions, etc) That's what games are all about, right? The things is....
It's the true mark of a sequal to see if it doesn't just reach the same level as it's forefathers, that it'll surpass it. Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest are all classic examples of this, as are sports games. Vice City, to me, just doesn't measure up and surpass GTA 3 in the way that should in measurement with the hype it received. It does beat it, but not nearly as much as the hype would have you believe. And because of this hype, you may find yourself like me and feel slightly let down by it given that this hype was fueled in part by Rockstar themselves. If you're going in cold this may not bother you....but not a whole lot of people will be going in cold due to all the hype. Plus, there's some certian glitches within the game which could've been avoided with more playtesting and polishing (and no, they're not rumors, it just happened to me the other day). I'm given it a 4.5/5
Final Score: 17.5
Final Note; It just feels to me that Rockstar could've spent some more time polishing the game. The game is a great game yes, but definitly isn't the GOTY, and it most definitly isn't the 'Perfect 10' that EGM rated it last month.
Next review will hopefull be Metriod Prime.
Next VG Review: GTA: Vice City. Next OSVG Review: Blaster Master