Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - game review

Date: 2003-06-20 06:14:00
The review was based on the PC version.

PeCet users have been looking at the TVs of players with PS2 who are playing another game from the GTA series with tears in their eyes for several months. Fortunately, providence watches over tin holders and on May 13, 2003, Vice City on the PC version is shown in US stores. Marketing play or pity for computer users? In the console version, the game sold in a million copies, thousands of copies of boxes with Vice City print went out in stores daily. This game was doomed to success from the beginning.

Expecting Vice City, I couldn't answer what I would really like to see in the next "episode" of the Grand Theft Auto series. GTA 3 was a perfect product and the only thing Rockstar Games programmers could do was to polish their "diamond". The perfect game certainly can't immaculate reality. Otherwise, it will not be what the recipients expect from it, that is, those eager for entertainment and getting away from everyday matters players. The whole trick is to combine realism with playability in such a way as to experience the most interesting things in real life in virtual reality. Some proven simplifications of the external world are not only useful, but even necessary to ensure a product's usability. The best example of this approach is the great work of the modern entertainment industry - Vice City.

Tommy Vercetii arrives in Vice City to finalize the drug deal. After arriving at the agreed place and starting the standard procedure of exchanging "drugs" for cash, the still peaceful meeting is interrupted by a series of shots. Thugs from an enemy gang not only kill three members of the meeting, but worse, they take away goods and money. Tommy miraculously escapes with life, and this is just the beginning of his problems. After contacting his boss - Sonny Forelli, it turns out that our hero must recover stolen items as soon as possible.

The world that appears to our eyes cannot disappoint. The graphics are not only much better than GTA3, but also much smoother, also on weaker hardware. Game on: Athlon XP1700 +, 256 DDR and GF4 Ti4200 in the maximum resolution of 1600x1200 with 32 bit color - it flashes, it's nice to look :-). Detailed models of buildings, plants and people are the first to be seen. To be able to admire the reflections of light, just point the hero's gaze towards the sun or wait until it begins to darken. It is only the evening in Vice City that reveals the wealth of this city. Lanterns brightening the urban darkness, neon lights of nightclubs and shops, lights in the windows of skyscrapers, traffic lights, the sky lit with stars ... you have to see it with your own eyes. The whole effect looks even better during rainy weather. Colorful advertisements and car lights are reflected on the wet road surface, the sky is lightened from time to time with lightning, and a blurred glow is visible around the light sources. Rain is the only precipitation we will deal with and it is hardly surprising, after all snow in Miami, during the full summer, would be a strange weather anomaly. Refining the appearance of the city during inclement weather is a real masterpiece. Rain drops appear on the screen (especially during fast driving), which flow down and blur very naturally. The drops themselves falling from the sky and the general mood of humidity means that during such weather you simply do not want to leave the roofed car.

Compared to GTA3, great progress has been made in presenting the organic life forms inhabiting the city. Vice City residents represent various social classes that can be distinguished, among others based on their clothes. So we will meet tourists stripped for swimming trunks and almost naked tourists, women with shopping, gang members, dressed in suits of businessmen, policemen, old women, women of loose morals, young roller-skaters, workers, drunks, homeless people etc. The appearance of the inhabitants represents the districts live. This wonderful land, as it turns out, is not just beaches, villa districts and rich commercial sectors with skyscrapers. We will often visit slums or the port district. In this respect, the city is really diverse. At the beginning of our adventure, we will certainly get lost more than once in the city crowds. The map then becomes useful, which in detail presents two huge islands connected by bridges, where we will have a gangster life. The loudly announced possibility of entering major buildings in the city was not a mere boast. There are not as many of these buildings as we would like, but those that are open to the public are certainly not disappointing. It is worth mentioning here, for example, the huge airport or a multi-story department store, with an escalator, shopping people and bodyguards. In the city, for example, we can go to the store where the latest motorcycle model was shown. Nothing stands in the way (well, except for the policemen) to break the glass and simply mow the latest chaser model. Well, I talked about bikes, so I don't want to develop this thread further.

As I mentioned, in Vice City we have the opportunity to ride what we missed so much in Liberty City - two-wheelers. As many as five different models of these vehicles are available, and they are: scooters, harleys (two types), crosses and chasers. Their appearance in the game is a real automotive breakthrough. With these agile vehicles we can get to places where a car tire will never be found. New opportunities for suicidal acrobatics are also opening up. The scooter is a vehicle for beginner motorcyclists - its performance after some time will become insufficient for us. Harleye, apart from the considerable speed and innate charm, do not offer such possibilities as the other two models of motorcycles. Speeder, or so-called superbike, is a real speed demon. Driving it on the highway against the tide, at full speed and passing literally by millimeters more cars - is an experience comparable to the spectacular stunts on a motorcycle done by Trinity in the latest Matrix. Motocross, on the other hand, is a fast and maneuverable motor that is even made for breakneck feats. Mapping the driving physics in all five cases is really impeccable. In the case of a cross and a speeder, with a bit of practice we can stand on the rear and front wheels, it is also easy to give a rubber burning show. Riding on motorbikes also gives us the ability to easily and accurately shoot uzi during pursuits. Of course, riding bikes is fun only for real men. During a crazy ride it is not difficult to find an accident, which with a small number of health points can be fatal.

However, the appearance of motorcycles did not cause a recession in the car industry. A terrifying number of about eighty cars and various types of vehicles drives around Vice City. They all have their specific appearance and driving dynamics. Also enjoy such details as the movable suspension in the car called Voodoo (lowrider - i.e. dancing cars known even from the music videos of Dr. Dre, D12 and Snoop Dog). As you can see, there were no original names, but the average car enthusiast will definitely recognize in street jams Porsche or Ferrari. The vehicle itself has become more interactive. From now on you can kill passengers by shooting through the windows, puncturing tires or destroying individual parts of the car (e.g. with a chainsaw). As the vehicle is demolished, it burns and explodes, which was also the case in GTA3. The bane, however, was to escape from a burning car while it was in motion (to get off, you had to stop the car first). In Vice City this was solved by adding the option of jumping out of a speeding car. In addition to standard vehicles, we will also sit behind the controls of a helicopter, golf cart or motorboat. Each of the machines is designed for different working conditions, e.g. on the beach we do not drive anything as freely as a special rover designed for this purpose.

The entire Vice City is ruled by seven competing gangs, whose members can be identified by their clothing, cars and the district in which they prowl. During the mission, we will have contact with each of these groups, which will not always be good for us. Not only do we have enemies; on the streets constantly listen to the sounds of fighting hatred gangs. Criminals also dislike the uniformed; in the dark streets a pedestrian police patrol is exposed to brass knuckles and knives of mafia thugs. I keep on mentioning the types of weaponry, so I won't keep arms lovers in the dark. In the game you can find more than 30 types of equipment for inflicting pain. From standard revolvers, rifles and submachine guns, through bazookas, miniguns, M16s and flamethrowers, to the katana, hammer, power saw, screwdriver and cleaver. In this respect, the game is really psychopathic and can easily compete in this category with titles such as Postal (this applies especially to the falling heads and hands of our victims - it's really bloody).

The climate, i.e. the mood of the entire game, is one of the most important aspects of the game. GTA opponents raise the mood in the Mafia game. People working on Vice City probably took it to heart and you can see that they tried their best to let their work let the player completely delve into the crazy 80s. During this period, an interactive movie action takes place, which is certainly Vice City. The whole style of the environment is only a cosmetic matter (of course also very important), lovers of the GTA series know that what has the greatest impact on the game's climate is music. As in the previous parts, here in almost every vehicle we have the ability to turn on the radio and listen to one of 9 radio stations. They are all, of course, kept in the climate of the 80s, but if we do not like this solution, we can always "grow" our mp3 collection - just like it did in GTA3. Music from the time of my parents' youth never appealed to me, but after a while the climate got me so entranced that I got into the cars just to turn on my favorite radio station. I was able to drive around Vice City without much purpose, listening to music and enjoying the views of the city.

The background music is good enough that it was decided to release separate discs containing songs played on Vice City radios. And in them we can hear such celebrities as Blondie, Jan Brown, Michael Jackson, Ozzy Osbourne, Kate Bush and Slayer. So we will listen to the beginnings of rap (including Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five), rock, techno, romantic music, pop, disco, soul, Latin music, there will also be interesting, funny or crazy interviews, conversations and chats (I especially recommend K -chat, run by Amy Sheckenhausen). Although the music drowns out the other sounds coming out of the speakers while playing, it is impossible not to mention them. The work of engines, the sounds of shots, fights or collisions are just a substitute for acoustic sensations. During walks through the streets of the city we will hear comments and conversations of passers-by, often also curses directed at us (especially when we steal someone's car).

The most important element of GTA are certainly the missions entrusted to us. Tommy's story is a typically American character development model: "from zero to hero." In the first missions we work as an errand boy, only after some time earning respect in the gangster world of Vice City. The tasks that we will perform are very diverse and interesting. Subsequent orders are so diverse that the game does not bore us with monotony. So we'll have to work as a courier, chauffeur, paid killer and bodyguard. There will also be suicide missions involving carefree demolition or saving buddies from deadly fuel. In some attempts we will have to show dexterity and often also ingenuity. One of such missions is the task in which, controlling a small-size helicopter, we have to plant bombs in the tower being built. In addition to dealing with the controls (8 buttons), we must watch out for police officers attacking us and guarding the building workers. This is one of the first missions that can cause us manual problems. In general, the tasks are fairly simple and the average player is able to do most of the first try. GTA's flagship is still the apparent freedom in our choices. Although we have influence on the order of tasks entrusted to us, the game is quite linear. The most important thing, however, is that you can feel it only when you go through the game again. Anyway, doing side quests, and even seemingly pointless driving around the city are still pushing the action forward. As usual, it's about money, and Vice City is a real paradise for the rich. In addition to standard missions, we can earn (as in previous parts) catching criminals (missions with police cars), driving the tariff (taxi), saving people in missions with ambulance and fighting fires as a fireman. The most effective (although poorly paid) are stunts, and in Vice City there are really a lot of places (including jumps) for practicing this type of sports. Of course, you can also earn money by robbing residents, but in this case it is necessary to commit murders. Having some achievements, he is tempting to spend a few bucks somewhere. In Vice City, we're no longer limited to a few weapon stores. The option of buying new clothes (from a suit to a well-known dressing gown) and buying real estate was introduced. Numerous houses, factories and clubs are put up for sale. Money makes money - well invested savings will start paying back quickly. The companies purchased earn on themselves, and the profits they bring go directly into our pocket. However, this is not the end of the benefits. In each of our assets we can save the game, most also have garages in which we keep our favorite cars securely.

Tommy has his own helicopter on the roofs of some of the apartments. Controlling it is a lot of fun and after some time it will become our main means of transport to remote corners of Vice City. Most buildings also give us the opportunity to perform additional missions. To complete the game you will need six of them, and we will have attractions such as a car showroom in which we can organize races around the city on selected sections of the city.

The police are the basic order force of every city. In the seemingly overpowered crime city of Vice City, police patrols (pedestrians and patrol cars - cops can't ride motorcycles) are really numerous. It is rare for a series of several pedestrian deductions (straight from Carmageddon) not to be noticed by the uniformed. The more naughty we are, the more strength is chasing us - this is symbolized by the stars known from previous parts (there are six of them). First, the police are on our heels, then the FBI, SWAT units and the army. How nice I was surprised when it turned out that I was being chased by detectives visually alive transferred from such series as "Policemen from Miami". Partners (white and mulatto) in Hawaiian T-shirts, in a pink car with an uncovered roof and pistols aimed at us are an unforgettable experience. The forces we will face are quite intelligent "beasts". Policemen try to hide behind terrain obstacles, circle us, and roll and jump. Unfortunately, intentions alone are not enough, and in most cases the stupidity of the authorities is still quite visible.

Vice City is packed with many flavors. People running on the beach leave marks. Cars are driven not only by drivers, but also passengers (it often happens to steal a car with its contents - hijacking?). Vegetation deflects under the influence of an incoming helicopter. Much progress has also been made in the presentation of the water, which is now transparent (you can see underwater rocks and even fish in it). You can also feel that Vice City is alive and we are only a small part of it. Not every inhabitant complies with traffic rules, accidents often occur without our participation, various types of flying machines can be seen in the sky, ships float on rivers and the open sea. The city lives differently during the day, and a completely different life begins after dark. And despite the fact that you can't look for major mistakes in Vice City, you can improve a lot in the next part of the GTA series. Sneaking into the cars is certainly not ideal (Mafia offered a better solution), our hero should finally learn to swim, it could also use a greater interaction with the environment (the ability to destroy light sources, trees, walls and fences). Tommy also demonstrates great strength - when an obstacle in the form of a car gets in his way, our hero simply moves it without much effort. Sometimes the effect of penetration of objects is also visible. A noteworthy shortcoming is the mysterious disappearance of cars. It often happens that we see a car that disappears after temporarily looking away from the other direction. This is due to the appearance of moving landscape elements by randomly generating them within a short distance from our hero. At short distances it is not noticeable, however, it may happen that our favorite vehicle (which we are chasing for takeover) in strange circumstances will disappear around the corner in one of the streets. This error is certainly caused by the hardware limitations of computers, and the smaller number of cars whose location must be calculated on an ongoing basis accelerates the program. However, you can not be so demanding, because despite several shortcomings GTA: Vice City is what the fans of the series were waiting for.

Daniel "KULL" Sodkiewicz