When you think of the history of videogames what comes to mind? Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Pong, sure these classics will always be etched into the minds of gamers as being the “ones that started it all”, but nothing could prepare us for the future. Gaming became commercial following the release of the PSOne back in 1995 and ever since it has become a major industry. Thriving on the money of casual gamers and still attempting to appease the hardcores who kept it alive during the late 80’s into the early 90’s. We all knew there would be one game that surpassed every sales record and broke every expectation of how far gaming could reach across the world, but we never knew it would involve hookers, drugs, and a plot that would make Tony Soprano blush. Alas the phenomenon that is GTA has dawned a sequel so to speak and is destined to be the largest selling game of all time, is it worth another 50 of your hard earned dollars, or just a cash cow in disguise. The truth about Vice City is now unveiled!
One thing can be said about today’s games, they keep looking better and better. Developers find ways to wow us with new tricks and ideas to make games more realistic. The problem here is that the PS2 has it’s limitations, sure it can beef out a mass amount of polygons but it isn’t good at keeping them all on screen without hints of slowdown or draw in. GTA 3 looked decent for it’s mass amount of space it covered and honestly Vice City looks the same or perhaps a little less impressive. The character models are blocky and the textures are god awful. I could let it slide in the first game considering how large it was, but Vice City seems a little smaller and yet we still see a downgrade? What gives?? There is a touch of slowdown from time to time and the draw distance still sucks, you can see buildings and areas build before your eyes, graphically this game could look so much better on one of the other consoles.
One area that this game excels at, I dunno about you but being a child of the 80’s is nothing to brag about. Glam metal filled with parachute pants and gallons of hairspray come to mind as I weep in the corner, but the music was awesome. Listening to “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” while flying sky high over a building only to crush someone on a scooter is what life is all about! Getting licensed tracks from such classic 80’s bands as Michael Jackson, Ozzy Osborne, Twisted Sister, and Flock Of Seagulls is a blessing in disguise, Rockstar knew what they were doing when they pulled this string. The sound effects are rehashed samples from GTA 3 but with the likes of Ray Liotta, Dennis Hopper, and Jenna Jamison voicing the characters it adds so much personality you can practically smell it!
What GTA 3 lacked was a solid storyline and Vice City fills this gap nicely. Taking the role of Tommy Vercetti you are released from a prison in Liberty City and sent to Vice City to take care of a last minute drug deal for your boss. The deal goes bad and Tommy is doing everything he can to get his drugs and the money back. Along the way you can obtain property such as strip clubs, better house, and the like and become a mad mob boss. How is that for simulation? The additional depth really gives GTA what it needed in the long run, replayability and style. Sure people will argue that GTA is the ultimate replayable game, but seriously kids how long can you run over someone and rape a hooker before you become bored?
This is where the first game excelled and lacked, sure the whole idea of free roam gameplay sounds cool and surely is fun for a while, but we all need substance. With the subtle additions to Vice City we have substance, now all we need is a solid gameplay engine…ooops I knew they forgot something. The character movement is still slippery and sloppy causing many untimed deaths not to mention the aiming system is still horrible. You cannot aim at someone to save your life, and what is up with the melee fighting, such delayed button responses and no lock on?!? Not to mention you cannot block and getting away from a fight sucks because the delay is so bad you end up taking a hit before you knew you were fighting. On the plus side the car physics are great, sending the cars, bikes and such flying throughout the city is excellent, each car handles differently adding realism to an already deep game.
I am not going to rant on about how much I was disappointed by this game. I am not going to say this game should be overlooked because it doesn’t deserve the sales it achieves I am going to leave it at this. If you feel justified for paying 50 bucks for an expansion pack then by all means have at it. In my opinion this game should have come out at 30 bucks and been an add-on for GTA 3, anyone remember London 1969 add-on for GTA? I didn’t think so, most people think GTA 3 was the first game in the series. This game is a solid purchase and deserves to be a good seller. Best game ever? Not even close, any good? You bet your ass!