Anthony's Film Review

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
(Video Game, 2002)

The follow-up to Grand Theft Auto III definitely continues the excitement, while providing an even bigger game experience...

With the phenomenal success of Grand Theft Auto III, Rockstar Games was definitely not going to stop there. To not release another GTA game would be a slap in the face for the fans and a missed profit opportunity for the company. Hence, the next game in the series, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, would come out not too long after GTA III. Although the game's graphics and engine are similar to those of GTA III, it's not simply a clone of GTA III that just has different visuals on the surface. GTA: Vice City introduces plenty of new gameplay features, enough to take the excitement of GTA to yet another high level.

If you are familiar with the very first GTA game back in 1997, you will recall that the game consists of six chapters spanning three cities: Liberty City (fictionalized version of New York), San Andreas (fictionalized version of San Francisco), and Vice City (fictionalized version of Miami). GTA III already presented a remade 3D version of Liberty City, so the next game could be based on one of the other two cities. Obviously, Vice City was chosen, and it's a good choice. This is a chance for players to experience a three-dimensional GTA game not only in a setting similar to real-life Miami but also in a different time period: the 1980s.

You, the player, take on the role of Tommy Vercetti (voiced by Ray Liotta), who works for Liberty City Mafia boss Sonny Forelli (voiced by Tom Sizemore). In the beginning, Tommy is involved in a drug deal that unfortunately ends with a bloody ambush and a loss of big money. He and a lawyer named Ken Rosenberg (voiced by Bill Fichtner) discuss ways to solve this mess. Ultimately, Tommy is on his own doing jobs for various crime bosses, including Colonel Cortez (voiced by Robert Davi) and a drug kingpin named Ricardo Diaz (voiced by Luis Guzman). Later, Tommy rises in power as a crime lord himself as he purchases various businesses throughout Vice City and expands his moneymaking empire. Obviously, none of this goes well with Sonny Forelli, who just might want to eliminate his former employee.

Obviously, one of the big selling points of this game is that the voice cast consists of mostly big Hollywood names. Besides the names I already mentioned, you can also expect to hear Miami Vice star Philip Michael Thomas as a gangster named Lance Vance, Burt Reynolds as a real estate tycoon named Avery Carrington, and adult film star Jenna Jameson as a porn actress named Candy Suxxx. Rockstar Games could easily afford to pay these actors thanks to the big bucks from sales of GTA III. Speaking of which, Rockstar could also afford music licenses for big mainstream songs, so that the fictional radio stations you hear while driving play almost entirely hits from the 70s and 80s. Examples (which are also my favorites): "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles, "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, "Poison Arrow" by ABC, "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" by Cutting Crew, "Atomic" by Blondie, "Japanese Boy" by Aneka, and "Africa" by Toto.

What about the gameplay? Well, you certainly have the familiar GTA elements, like carjacking, avoiding (or killing) cops, buying weapons, moonlighting as a taxi driver, finding hidden packages, and doing vehicle stunt jumps. But what about the new features? Well, there are plenty of those. For instance, this is the first GTA game where you can change your clothes, instead of sticking with one outfit the whole game, and fly planes and helicopters, not just drive cars. Speaking of cars, there is one fun side activity where you can steal cars of particular models for cash. The big feature in this game is the opportunity to buy residential properties, which would act as additional locations to save your game, and commercial properties to expand your criminal empire. Imagine having things like a printing press that makes counterfeit money, an ice cream factory that actually distributes drugs, a strip club, and an adult film studio right at your fingertips.

Despite the fact that Vice City in this game is geographically smaller than Liberty City in GTA III (two big islands plus three small ones, as opposed to three big islands), there is still a lot of fun things to do. I had a great time with this game, whether it's with the core GTA features or the new ones introduced here. Without actually declaring myself a criminal because I'm not so in real life, it was fun to assassinate specific targets, shoot target vehicles while driving a fast car, stir up a Haitian-Cuban gang war, rob a bank, participate in illegal street racing, commit murder on a golf course, jump a motorcycle from rooftop to rooftop, and protect a rock band from a crazed killer, all while savoring the glitz and glamour of the 1980s. If all of this sounds cool to you, then check out Grand Theft Auto: Vice City if you haven't done so already.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, visit the Internet Movie Database and Moby Games.


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