The graphics are solid and get the job done but the PS2 roots are evident. The character models are a little blocky, and the game isn’t as graphically beautiful as most modern PC titles but the game play really blurs that out. The backgrounds and scenery are quite good. It was a lot of fun to drive along the Vice City strip at night to check out all of the neon buildings. The game has a running clock and they art people at Rockstar did an amazing job of the transitions from day to night and night to day. Sunsets and sunrises are impressive and help to give the user the feeling that they are in a living/breathing world. There’s a lot of background action. Planes fly around in the background, people walk along the boardwalk, hookers hook, and you get the feeling that you are a part of a living, breathing city. You really have to wonder what magic the Rockstar artists could come up with if they started with a PC version…
As I mentioned earlier, the game play is GTA:VC
amazing. You can control a wide variety of vehicles. You can operate everything from cars, to boats, helicopters, and motorcycles. The motorcycles are a lot of fun but they are dangerous. You can zip along the streets quickly but if you make a small mistake you get thrown off the bike and Tommy takes some damage. The wide variety of cars each is impressive. There are 20 plus cars in the game, . You have everything from sports cars to garbage trucks. While Rockstar didn’t license any cards from major manufacturers, it’s easy to recognize what some of the cars are supposed to be. Boats and helicopters are a nice bonus. You don’t spend a lot of time on them but they add a new wrinkle on how you approach certain problems. The wonderful thing about the game is that there are multiple ways to solve a problem (although violence is usually involved in all of them). You can take a direct method of charging in with full guns or you can stand back and slowly pick enemies off from a distance. Between the variety of solutions and the variety of missions there’s really something for everyone. The controls are fairly straight forward, you use the WASD combination to move forward, back, left and right, while the mouse controls the direction you face, cards and boats use the same WASD setup while the helicopters are a little more complicated. The helicopters take a while to get used to as the controls are not as intuitive as they are for the rest of the game. It takes some getting used to but it’s still not as smooth as the rest of the game and it’s one of the few bad points in the game.
The missions are varied and interesting. Like the Grand Theft Auto III, you are trying to work your way up the criminal corporate ladder and while there is a core set of missions dedicated to this there are a ton of side missions. Some are easy, peaceful ways to earn money (delivering pizza, taxing people around the city, taking people to the emergency room in an ambulance) while others are more violent (assassinating people, going on violent rampages, as well as a host of missions for other criminal elements in town). There’s enough variety to keep you from getting bored with the game and enough variety to keep you interested in seeing what’s next. Some of the missions are difficult and will require you to replay them a few times, but there wasn’t a single mission that felt impossible. The only really big frustration for me was dealing with the helicopter missions and that just took time to get used to the controls.
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