Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Review

posted 11/7/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
Making a return are the excellent radio stations and for this round, we’re treated (or subjected) to an amazing collection of real life 80s music. Rockstar managed to snag great groups like Flock of Seagulls, Zapp and Roger, Nena, Blondie, Hall & Oates and much much more. Just looking at the musical credits in the back of the manual could cause someone to have a massive headache, there are so many artists listed as contributing to the soundtrack that it truly is amazing. Massive amounts of time must have been spent to acquire the rights to use all of these artists’ songs and I feel that Rockstar should be commended for their efforts. It’s not like they just went to one label and scooped up all of the artists either, the songs in the game come from literally dozens of different record labels. The music is just amazing and it’s awesome to have some licensed music to go along with all the murder and mayhem.

What makes the music so great this time around is the massive selection available for you to choose from. Chances are, GTA Vice City will have songs that can cater to every single audience out there. It successfully touches all of the major bases by selecting the best titles available to represent their respective genres. That means that you’ll get rockin’ 80s tunes like 99 Luft Balloons and More Bounce to the Ounce and less tunes from forgettable bands like Heart and The Culture Club. Talk radio also makes a return although it’s not nearly as funny as the version hosted by Laslow last time around. There are some truly great musical selections in here and if you’re in the mid 30’s and you wish to relive your youth, you’ll no doubt be pleased by what GTA VC’s soundtrack has to offer. It would have been nice had there been an option to create a custom soundtrack out of the available songs but I’m willing to forgive this omission.

Visually the game has in a few respects, although you probably won’t notice it at first. While GTA 3 featured some pretty detailed landscapes, GTAVC completely blows it out of the water. After playing VC the environments of GTA3 just look barren and plain. You’ll see much more foliage and roadside objects, many more buildings that feature unique designs and architecture and overall, just much more detail. There are now interior areas for you to explore such as a mansion and a shopping mall. Nightfall brings the city to life, lighting up the entire city in an extravagant display of highly stylized neon lights. The main character seems to have been refined quite a bit and although he still looks a bit too lanky, he’s much more soothing for the eyes. He actually seems to have progressed quite a bit and in many ways looks like a cross between WWE Owner Vince McMahon and Shawn Stasiak. Judging by the screenshots, you might expect the game to have faced a revelation of some sorts in the graphics department, that is until you see it in action for yourself.

Due to the massive scale of the game, this game cannot visually compare to the other top tier titles. The blatant overuse of motion blur (a great way to hide dropping frame rates) makes a triumphant return and strikes nearly ever portion of the game. Problems arise during the custscenes when you realize that the models could have benefited from a few more polygons. Characters often look out of place during the numerous cutscenes; it often looks as if they’re floating across the floors as opposed to walking across them. Their arm movements and mannerisms are also pretty weak and cannot match what the other premier PS2 titles are doing. While much of the game has been improved it still looks like a game that is a year old and in this respect, the game often looks old and dated. Sure you’ll see some neat visual tricks to add a surreal feeling to the game here and there but the game just isn’t much to look at anymore. Last year’s game wasn’t a very impressive visual treat but managed to pass in the graphics department because there was just so much to display and render. There are a few neat tricks thrown in here and there such as trees that sway and water that actually splashes onto your screen, but it’s not enough to overcome the graphical deficiencies. Pop up runs rampant and seems to have grown to become an even larger problem. Roadside objects are now affected by the pop-up, sometimes a dumpster or an indestructible object will magically appear out of thin air to impede your progress. To put it frankly the graphics look old and dated and are only saved by the tremendous overuse of the industry’s best eye-tricks.
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