In another realisation that I am getting rather old, GTA Vice City is 19 years old (on the 29th of October anyway). That means Vice City is old enough to have had kids, which it did, kind of. I’m not sure where I was going with that…
Rockstar found their grove when it came to making the most of the change to 3d open-world games. GTA 3 was great, bringing the series to life compared to the top-down games of old, then Vice City took everything and turned it to 11.
Although I know the game well and have seen countless hours of clips online, this has been something of a rarity for me as I’ve never actually played Vice City before 2021. Back in my teen years in 2002, I was a Nintendo kid and had just got my hands on the lovely purple square, the GameCube.
With GTA very rarely dropping on Nintendo consoles, this meant I was stuck with cheap GTA knock-offs like True Crime Streets of LA or its sequel Streets of New York. Fun at the time, but True Crime doesn’t even get close to the quality Rockstar had on offer.
With the game about to get a rerelease and remaster, I thought now would be a great time to revisit where it all began. The remaster will mean that the game is playable on, urm… everything? We’ll add a chart to the right-hand side here >
Unfortunately, if you haven’t bought it already, you’ve lost your chance, as the original GTA 3D trilogy is no longer available to purchase. It’s a little disappointing, as the remastered collection isn’t exactly cheap, and it would have been nice to at least see these rolled into the package for the sake of game preservation at least.
Vice City is still considered the best GTA game by a few corners of the industry and saw players take a trip back to 1986 and Rockstar’s version on Miami. It’s not a fresh take on this period with the Miami Vice and Scarface vibes standing strong but, it’s well done.
All of the things I consider Rockstar masters of are present. Soundtrack, story, characters and voice acting. The change to a voiced main character is huge compared to the silent Claude of GTA 3. With Ray Liotta suiting up as the main character Tommy Vercetti. As a side note, I’d love to see Rockstar jump back to using some Hollywood stars for at least some of the characters, as I missed this in GTA 5.
During your time with the game, you’ll experience his fall and then rise to crime kingpin and meet a load of crazy characters along the way. All are voiced amazingly, and the quality stands up even now years later.
GTA was a few entries to the franchise deep by now, and everything you would expect to feature is here, stealing cars, shooting guns and the “wanted” meter meaning your criminal activities send more and more cops to take you down. The game was so good, as it took these all, then made them better than before.
There is plenty of different cars. A great selection of weapons and a world that was much bigger to explore.
I’m in love with all the side missions and could waste hours doing taxi jobs. One of the other big changes was the ability to buy businesses like nightclubs. Players can also buy hotels to make them into extra safehouses to save your game.
All of this was needed in Tommy’s quest to become the main man in town and overthrow his former boss Sonny Forelli.
Even now 19 years later, it is easy to see why the game was and still is, so loved. The aesthetic is beautiful and it’s a total match for the image we have when thinking about this style of story.
Unfortunately, this is where I come to the negatives or negative. All of the above are reasons to revisit this game or give it a try. If you’ve played any of the later GTA games, it’s a little rough to control. It comes down to two main problems that I’d like to see sorted in the remaster… Shooting and camera control.
I’ve not been this frustrated with a game in a long time. Both of these things need sorely updated. Even the mechanics from GTA 4 or Red Dead Redemption would feel like a huge upgrade. I’ve replayed both recently and although they lack the refinements from GTA 5 (I’m not saying GTA 5’s shooting is good btw, Rockstar should use Max Payne 3 for their mechanics in all their games), neither game was as hard to stick with as Vice City.
The issues follow on to the camera control, it’s ok when you are driving or controlling one of the many vehicles on offer, but the on-foot camera is a pig and I think some players would miss the total control we had for years.
In short, I’m excited to see what the GTA Definitive collection can do for Vice City (and GTA 3 and San Andreas). It looks the part and coupled with a few modernisations, should be a great way to experience an amazing story and game that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Roll on November 11th.