Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Review

posted 11/7/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
The gameplay remains virtually unchanged although the setting has moved from the big city to the beach. There are still some heavily industrial downtown areas but much more emphasis has been placed on the Miami lifestyle and swagger. Since this game takes place in the 80s, you can expect to see the entire world populated with tons of neon signs that are meant to be decorative, but prove to be an eyesore. Of course you’ll also see blatant overuse of that ugly shade of neon pink that really seemed to be all the rage in the 80s. It’s all over the place, from the clothes, to the vehicles, to the objective arrows; it’s both a nice knock and a nice homage to the most forgettable decade of the 20th century.

Some new features have been added that really go a long way in improving the onscreen action. First and foremost, you’ll now have the ability to crouch. This not only helps you shield yourself behind objects, but it also helps improve accuracy for your weapons. As you progress through the game you’ll be given the option of purchasing legitimate businesses such as a strip club in order to earn some cash on the side. You can now bail out of moving vehicles as opposed to having to stop them completely. This does a number of things, it allows you to avoid danger that you weren’t expecting, it allows you to use the car as a projectile against a horde of enemies, and it allows you to escape from a burning vehicle with much more ease. The targeting system has been reworked quite a bit but still proves to be far too clunky than it should be. The PC port GTA 3 showed that a viable targeting system is indeed possible so there is absolutely no excuse for this ineptitude.

There is also a whole new assortment of weapons but they’re mostly interchangeable with the exception of a few key ones. The chainsaw is by far, the best weapon in the history of video gaming and in a small nod to id Software and Doom, the guys at Rockstar have included it here for your own sadistic pleasures. Not only can you chop your foes to pieces but doing so will send blood flying in all directions, causing it to splatter on your screen.

All of the vehicles are entirely new and appear to be earlier models of the vehicles that appeared in GTA 3. As you cause mayhem and violence, you’ll come across a few familiar names. Each of them is beautifully modeled and appears to have increased in poly count in a highly significant manner. There are more areas of damage and the tires can now be blown out to slow down a potential escapee. They are much more refined and featured some beautiful design touches that make them unique and appealing. The handling also seems to have been reworked to add a more slippery ‘boat on wheels’ sort of feeling that was a must for vehicles in the 80s. They are much harder to control this time around and have a much higher tendency to lose control during tight turns and high speed driving. Of course the amazing physics also make a return and seem even more realistic this time. Cruising around the cityscape is a blast and you’ll no doubt want to check out the various vehicles that make an appearance.

Then there’s the business of the motorcycles, by far, the most entertaining addition to this year’s game. You’ll be able to steal mopeds, choppers and performance bikes this time around. All it takes is a swift elbow to the face of the current owner and the bike is yours. Bikes were included in the previous iterations of GTA but were omitted from GTA3 for undisclosed reasons, now they’re back with a vengeance. They’re awesome to ride and are a blast to control. You’ll be able to pop wheelies, stand up on the seats and fire forward with a machine gun. The animations are well done too, you’ll see your character’s shirt flap in the wind as he picks up speed, he’ll lean into turns and he’ll even place a foot on the pavement to help guide himself through sharp turns. Best of all, colliding with objects will send your character hurling through the air just like you’d expect in real life. You’ll definitely want to check out the bikes in this year’s game as they have become a favorite around the GN offices.
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