The GTA Story – A fistful of 80’s Love – Vice City and Vice City Stories

GTA Vice City: Tommy The Motherfucking Man Vercetti

What’s the reason GTA Vice City is still praised by many as THE GTA, the perfect open world game, or as best game ever? Is it the 80’s feeling, including many references (from Miami Vice characters to the A-Team van to the obvious nods to Scarface)? Is it the ingenious assets gameplay element? Flying for the first time? The colourful and bustling Miami, pardon, Vice City?

It is all of the above, but Vice City’s main strength is the protagonist, Tommy Vercetti. As opposed to the good guy at heart CJ and the sad old veteran Niko Bellic, Tommy doesn’t give a shit about fucking ethics – why should he stay away from drugs, why should he pretend to care about anything? He’s in it for the money, for the fame, for the fucking violence! It felt refreshing just to play the ultimate badass, didn’t it?

True, Vice City takes shitloads of inspiration from Scarface: The big villa, the Malibu Club, Diaz aka Lopez – and of course a “from rags to riches” story were more than mere references, but thanks to the charismatic Lance Vance (for once, a character whose motivations were understandable, and it might be worth raising the question who betrayed whom), the best fictional band  ever, Love Fist, and good old friends such as Donald Love, GTA Vice City could free itself from the Scarface copycat stamp. Plus, Tommy talked less than Toni, becomes arguably less insane in the end, and his one-liners were usually spot-on. Yes, Mr. Vercetti was not designed to be loved or as a sympathetic character – but who cares? It’s GTA, and that means we want to unleash havoc and mayhem unto the city!

Besides Tommy, Vice City offered tons of stuff: We knew the open world missions, rampages and many diversions from GTA III, yes. But what about motor bikes, helicopters, one actual plane and changing clothes? All welcome, true. But one thing which will never be forgotten are the assets; from a certain point onwards, we could buy properties, do missions for them and then collect money in return. An ingenious system, and sadly pretty much absent in later GTA titles.

So, was Vice City perfect? Well, not really. It was a huge improvement compared to its predecessor, but falling into the water was still a nuisance, and that fucking mission “The Driver” is still a matter of dumb luck – and it ain’t the only one where it all boils down to luck in Vice City. Sometimes, you park a car in a mission somewhere, you turn around … and it’s gone. Pretty awful in a time-sensitive mission, eh?

GTA Vice City Stories: The Origins of the Vance Family

After Liberty City Stories, Rockstar decided to give us a second handheld GTA (later to be ported to the PS2 again). This time, we returned to Vice City, and this time, we got to explore the origin of Vance’s criminal empire. However, we weren’t allow to play as Lance Vance, but we had to settle with his unfortunately rather good-ish guy brother Vic. Which seems a rather unusual choice, since it is Lance’s brother who gets gunned down in the opening scene of Vice City

Vice City Stories aka VCS is a better and more polished game than LCS; also, Rockstar seems to make strange connections between black protagonists and the ability to swim – before GTA IV, only CJ and Vic were able to swim. Odd, isn’t it? While it manages to capture the spirit of Vice City (and there’s also a gang war style business control side to VCS), it cannot really compete with its bigger brother; the missions are significantly shorter, and Vic is simply not that interesting as a character, especially compared to Tommy!

Rabidgames pumps his fist: In terms of a dense atmosphere populated by over-the-top characters, Vice City is still in a class of its own. Nothing can compete with cruising through colourful Vice City listening to Slayer! Compared to that greatness, VCS is still a solid game … but it cannot really stand a chance against the behemoth Tommy Vercetti

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