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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Review
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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Rockstar Games’ follow-up to the third installment in their open-world action-adventure series, is now available from the app store. Building upon the success of GTA III while offering a few new twists and a great new setting, GTA: Vice City is another can’t-miss offering that satisfies our nostalgic yearnings.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Pros:

  • Crisp graphics, smooth animations, and tons of content and mayhem
  • ’80s soundtrack is full of favs; voice acting from Hollywood hotshots adds authenticity
  • Controls are customizable, managing to fit all of the relevant buttons onto the touchscreen interface
  • Huge open-world allows for exploring and wanton destruction aplenty

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Cons:

  • Controls still leave something to be desired
  • Pop-in can be problematic; camera viewpoint often obscured by environmental objects

It’s a little hard to believe that ten years have passed since its initial console release. When we first fell in love with the GTA series, we had just graduated college and couldn’t imagine that, within a decade, we could take our favorite games on-the-go in our pockets. Now, here we are, taking control of Tommy Vercetti along the sun-drenched beaches of Vice City, a reimagining of an ‘80s-era Miami. The original release remains largely intact, though a little visual polish has been added. You start off as a low-level Mafia hitman and work your way up to crime boss, a familiar rags-to-ill-gotten-riches story that serves to support the mission-based gameplay structure that sees you killing undesirables, escorting felons, engaging in drug deals, and causing plenty of mayhem along the way. Additionally, diversionary side missions give you an enjoyable break from the normal gameplay progression, as does the ability to explore the open-world. Purchasing properties and getting massive air off of ramp jumps are just a few of our favorite extra-curricular activities.  There is a ton of content to work through and losing yourself in the city and discovering all of its little secrets is still a great deal of fun.

Graphically, Vice City looks even better than we remember, with a crispness and vibrancy that really stand out. New lighting effects also make the game pop, and the day-night cycle especially sparkles. Character models retain their original awkward looks, but the animations run smoother than anticipated. The ‘80s-infused soundtrack remains a highlight, blasting tunes from your car radio to keep your head bobbing.  You can even use your own music library to set up a playlist if you feel your musical tastes are not properly represented. The top-notch voice acting (which utilizes heavyweights like Ray Liotta and Dennis Hopper) lends an authenticity to the game that cannot be overstated. The mobile version’s greatest bugaboo remains its control scheme, which attempts to replicate the abundance of console-specific buttons on a touchscreen interface. It’s a feat that, while commendable and even serviceable, still feels clunky and unrefined. Fortunately, we are given the ability to customize button size and location, as well as choose tilt steering controls instead of a virtual joypad. Both features help to mitigate our issues to a degree. Without Rockstar making a concerted effort to adapt their controls in a more natural way, it’s probably just something we’ll have to put up with in these and future releases.

Replay value remains high, as even when the missions have been completed and the full story revealed, you can still wend your way around the city and find plenty of fun things to do. The ability to pilot a boat or hop on a motorcycle is an improvement over GTA III that feels just as fresh today as it did back then. A universal app for $4.99, GTA: Vice City is a 4-Dimple stunner.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2012-12-16T21:30:54+00:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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