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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Rockstar

 

Developer

DMA Studios

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

- Open-ended game play

- Improved story

- The 80’s are still cool

- Motorcycles—Whee!

 

 

-Still some frame rate and A.I. issues

 

 

Review: Grand Theft Auto III (Playstation 2)

Review: Grand Theft Auto III (PC)

 

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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Score: 9.5 / 10

 

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.

 

gta-vice-city-1.jpg (41291 bytes)          gta-vice-city-2.jpg (46064 bytes)

 

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.

 

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I suppose the missions of GTA: Vice City are not that much different from those of GTA3, but the theme is so well integrated this time around, that things simply feel more cinematic and cool. Some of the missions are particularly fun, though I hesitate to describe them and spoil the fun for newcomers.

 

The vehicles of Vice City are all new and match the new setting well. Though time has passed since I played GTA3, the difference in handling between vehicles 

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seemed more pronounced this time around, making it far more important to make sure you pick the right vehicle for each mission. Of course, for most players, if the mission can be completed astride a sparkling new hog, then that will be the vehicle of choice. Much has been made about the inclusion of motorcycles in Vice City and they are simply as cool as many of us had hoped they would be. My favorite feature is the ability to shoot forward while riding bikes, which makes missions that require destroying another vehicle much easier.

 

gta-vice-city-3.jpg (44047 bytes)          gta-vice-city-4.jpg (43895 bytes)

 

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 PS2 can compete graphically with the market’s more powerful systems.

 

Omni had the pleasure of reviewing Metroid Prime and giving AE’s first perfect 10 of the holiday season, and I’d like nothing more than to add a second one to the round-up. Unfortunately, the slight frame rate problem and the repetitiveness of some of the missions keeps GTA Vice City from that lofty height. Still, it is a fine game, one of the best on the system, and anyone who doesn’t own it can consider their collection suspect.

 

- Tolen Dante

(December 29, 2002)

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