Grand Theft Auto Vice City – A New King in Town [RETRO-2003]

RETRO – Slammed behind bars. Spent 15 years in prison. Betrayed. Shot. However, he survived, and now he is back to claim his city of dreams, where crime, and filth surrounds the poor districts filled with Cuban and Mexican immigrants. It is no different in the wealthy districts as corruption breeds through „white collar” crime.


Between Tommy and success only a few things stand – tons of cars that need to be stolen, rival gang members, angry cops, and a lot of angry mob bosses. Luckily our hero will not stop until he pinches every car, money, gets every prostitute or rich girl, and buys every shop in Vice City. He is Tommy Vercetti, the protagonist of Vice City, and it will depend on you if he ends up in a ditch or king of the city.

Love rides on a Harley-Davidson

The best new feature of Vice City are the motorbikes, and there multiple types of bikes: from the very basic moped to Harley Davidsons to the lightning fast PCI 600 it was a fantastic feeling zipping through the main streets or narrow alleys. The other brand new vehicle is the helicopter, and if we get one successfully, we can fly around the city.

The vehicle handling is better than ever (except the mini helicopters), and the new vehicles are all the more varied in style: the crappy old cars will barely get you anywhere, the Cuban and Haitian’s pimped up vehicles are fast but uncontrollable. The exotic cars are fast as hell just like in real life (would be great to experience such speed in real life)

Miami the 80s.

The biggest difference regarding visuals compared to the previous GTA is not the vehicles, but the environment. While in GTA III Liberty City was a tad bit depressing and looked like New York City, in this game Vice City is like the 80s Miami, with its beach sidewalks, Cuban immigrants, slum cities, fancy discos, and clubs. All in all the visuals are much more appealing, and colorful compared to GTA III.

Fresh from prison

Our protagonist this time is not a no name, quiet guy, but instead he is Tommy Vercetti voiced by Ray Liotta. Tommy was one of Liberty City’s most feared gangsters. However, he was put behind bars for fifteen years. After he had got out, he went to Vice City to become famous, and mostly to get loads of cash.

Sonny Forelli (seen in GTA III although ten years first) tasks Tommy with a routine work to buy some drugs, but things go south again, as the Colombians kill his partner, and the money gets stolen. Of course, Tommy has to get the cash back as soon as possible, or else his „old friend” will be a bit angry, and Tommy might end up sleeping with the fishes one day. Our „hero” decides not only to get back the money, but earn even more, plus to solidify his power in Vice City – as to how that depends on the player…

„Tommy, we have a bit of a problem.”

The missions are intricate, a lot more fun and way more varied compared to GTA III – although – I did encounter a few annoying ones. The creative team behind the missions did a stellar job, as not only they are more fun but allow us to experience Vice City to its fullest with the vehicles.

One mission for example is about a failed drug trade: where we have to chase the fleeing Colombians on a motorbike in narrow alleyways, and we can only get him if we shoot him to piece with a UZI. As per usual just like in GTA 3 we can steal cop cars, ambulances, taxis, and even a pizza car to do their jobs to earn a bit of extra cash

GTA Tycoon

God saves us if ever Rockstar decides to make a Tycoon game. However in Vice City there is a tiny and simple „management” part where we can earn money without having to go out and do more sidequests.

This is exactly what it out sounds like, we buy a bunch of places (restaurants, shipping companies, night clubs), and these will provide a constant flow of cash for us. For these places to work fully operational state, we’ll need to do some missions, where we kill off rivals, steal necessary equipment, and work a bit ourselves at the place to show the workers how it’s done.

Sunshine and neon light

The graphics are great but not because of the obscene amount of polygons or detailed characters, but instead because of the style of the game, the authenticity of the buildings, and the era. The character models are okay, maybe some of the female characters are a bit rendered awkwardly: in the strip club one of the strippers looked like one of Frankenstein doctor’s latest nightmare.

As we’re talking about a console port, do not expect pixel shader or bump mapping either: the sunshine and neon lights at night shines with lens flare, but that’s pretty much it for technical specialties.

Radio Gaga

The game looks great and feels not only terrific but also sounds superb. As in the regular GTA games, the developers here also did not just provide us with background music, but fake radios programs are in the title. It feels just like listening to one of the 80s Miami radio station!

We have Michael Jackson, Blondie, Bryan Adam, Iron Maiden, but some stations are linked to the era and the location: DJ Pepe Espantoso, for example, only airs Latin music. It’s not just the music that blares constantly but the DJs will also keep us entertained, or sometimes dumb American commercial parodies will air, and some stations will play interviews or talk shows.

A few screw ups

Of course, the game is not perfect, and we will encounter some annoying issues in Vice City. The AI was not enhanced compared to GTA III: the cops are still as aggressive as ever, they constantly bump into you and try to crash into you, which is weird because being chased by the cops does not equal Destruction Derby….

The pedestrians are pretty much brain dead: no matter how much I honked at them they would not move or jump away, and at the end of the day I felt like I was playing Carmageddon. Of course when this happened a cop was always nearby.
Speaking of stupid moments in video games, for some bizarro world reason Rockstar decided to give the godlike ambulance powers.

As soon as I shoot or run over someone they appear shortly and revive them in a matter of seconds, and our pedestrian will just walk off the bullets or skid marks like nothing happened! Luckily this does not always happen but if there was a feature that I would have left out was the „instant medic” function!

The most annoying mission was the blow up the building with a mini copter: controlling it was a pure nightmare. Even though Vice City has small issues, the game is still one of the best and most important games for the PC. We doubted if Rockstar North would be able to create the GTA III’s success in a year again, but with Vice City they were able to do it.



+ Lots of freedom
+ Fantastic authenticity and atmosphere
+ Cool story bro


– „Instant Medic” idiocy
– No Multiplayer
– Graphics is not that great

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Developer: Rockstar North & Rockstar Vienna

Genre: Action

Relase date: 2003

GTA Vice City

Gameplay - 9.5
Graphics - 9
Music/Audio - 9
Story - 8.5
Ambiance - 9.5



The most annoying mission was the blow up the building with a mini copter: controlling it was a pure nightmare. Even though Vice City has small issues, the game is still one of the best and most important games for the PC. We doubted if Rockstar North would be able to create the GTA III’s success in a year again, but with Vice City they were able to do it.

User Rating: 5 ( 1 votes)

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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