Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PSP, PS2) – Review

Vice City Stories - CoverGrand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (VCS), developed by Rockstar North and Leeds, and distributed by Rockstar Games, is a prequel to the events in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but adds several new features to the game to make it feel much less like an expansion pack that Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories did compared to Grand Theft Auto 3. The new features, in addition to a new soundtrack, returning voice actors, and Phil Collins (!), really help to make this game shine as a worth sequel to Vice City, and is highly recommended for anyone that is looking for some GTA action to tide them over prior to the release of Grand Theft Auto IV.

Story: A-

Like Liberty City Stories, VCS is a prequel in terms of its story, with events roughly a year or so from the original Vice City. The story focuses on Vic Vance, the much-more saner brother to Lance Vance who was a major character in Vice City. In this game, you play as Vic as he is recruited into the Army but ends up running crime errands for his corrupt superior, gets dishonorably discharged, and then meets up with his brother Lance who gets them into worse trouble by trying to steal drugs from two of the largest crime lords in the city. Vic gets pretty much carried away by the flow of events, trying to fix the messes that Lance created. Along the way, he finds a girlfriend, does stunts for the local movie studio, and helps to save Phil Collins (!) from harm.

The story here is much better than in LCS, likely because Vice City itself had a much more coherent story than GTA3. Yes, you do have a few side tracks from the main plot (saving Phil Collins (!!)) but there’s actually a pretty logical sequence of events. Half the story is made by having Lance around, since he is the one that acts as impulsively as he did, er, will do in Vice City.

Vice City Stories - ScreenshotGameplay: A-

I previously noted for my review of LCS that that game took several features of Vice City and brought them to the GTA3 map, but pretty much boiled down to the addition of motorcycles. While VCS takes a similar approach by incorporating features from San Andreas into the Vice City world, it does it in a much better way to make VCS feel more like a sequel than an expansion.

The core gameplay is unchanged from the GTA3 series. You perform missions marked on your map by talking to a person, and then following the instructions through a combination of driving, shooting, and other tasks. While most missions are pretty much “follow the blue dots, kill the red dots”, there’s just enough variety of elements to make the missions here feel fresher than they did in LCS. For example, one mission has you chasing down Lance after he goes nuts when the bad guys blow up his car (forget the fact that he was the target), and you have to stop the cars he’s chasing before he gets killed in his revenge quest. The main plot missions have the same semi-non-linearity as the other games: you’ll have the option of multiple missions to perform at times, but eventually you will perform all these missions to finish up your game. Where VCS does right where LCS failed is that the game starts you primarily based on the area around the military base and airport, and eventually gets you over to the other side of the Vice City map (the “Miami Beach” inspired area), with the progression pretty much the reverse of how the map opened up in Vice City. This gives you a lot more exploration of essentially the same map but feeling a lot less tedious than with LCS which progressed exactly as in GTA3.

The side quests are where the game gets interesting. Besides the usual taxi, firetruck, and other side quests, the game brings together the concept of gang areas from San Andreas and the side quest structure of Saints Row. There are 30 “businesses” across the map that run illegal operations which you can stop (first by destroying a vehicle in front of the structure to get their attention, then killing all the people and wrecking the operation inside), and then buy the property to start your own business. There are 6 types of businesses, like repossession and drug running, that you can select, along with the size of the business. Once your business is constructed and operating, it will begin to earn you money, which is automatically dropped into your account so you don’t have to go running around to get it. You can then partake of missions related to that business from within the business, which as they are completed increase the reputation of the business and provides additional benefits. Of course, the more reputable and the larger the business, as well as the general attitude of the gangs around that business towards you, will attract gangs seeking revenge and will try to wreck your business. While your people will defend it, they’ll need your help when it comes up (though oddly if you start a mission, this automatically saves the business). Additionally, people at the business can be recruited into your party much like in San Andreas so that you have some additional firepower when needed. There are a few points in the main plot where you need to take over a certain number of businesses, but otherwise, this is one of the best overall side missions in the series to date and is really a great addition to the game.

There’s also a good number of other side missions: there’s a watered-down version of Stuntman for the film studio, you can work on your golf game or your weapon aim, among others. For comparison, the main mission reflects only about 30% of the accomplishments you can get in the game.

Another notable feature is special points where you can buy certain things. Specifically, at each hospital and police station, there’s a point that you can spend money to get back all the weapons that you had before you died. This is a huge benefit to the game, as in other previous GTA titles, should you stock up on a lot of equipment before a big mission and died, you either had to restock your equipment or reload, all taking a lot of time. While the money part is a bit hampering in the start of the game, as soon as you have a few businesses under the belt, it makes the game a lot more fun because now you can take some risks in mission: should you die or fail, you just recollect your weapons (you’ll have to rebuy armor though), jump in the cab that will take you right back to the start of the mission, and you’re on your way again. While the system in Saints Row is a bit better (automatically restarting the mission should you fail), this is a vast improvement. Other buy points allow you to spawn bullet-prove or specialty vehicles near your bases, gain you access to the Phil Collins (!!!) concert, and the like. An additional improvement to the game is the ability to “trip skip” the opening drive from the mission start point to the first point on the map, if it’s just a normal drive; you can only do this after you tried the mission once, but this helps with trying difficult missions over and over again. You can bypass this skip if you want to stop and buy ammo and guns, but it’s very helpful when the distances you want to drive become rather large.

Vice City Stories - ScreenshotVCS includes motorcycles, boats, helicopters, and even one point where you can use a regular bike, in addition to all the other usual vehicles. Oh, and that attack chopper at the military base that was near impossible to get in the original game? You’ll get to fly it in this one. Given that helicopter flying is a key element of a handful of missions, I believe the controls for it to be easier than previous games, but it still can be a pain; there’s one mission that you need to hook an industrial-sized magnet on a car while its moving while you’re being shot at by goons while you’re flying between trees and buildings, so it takes a bit of the right touch to work out.

I originally started the game on the PSP, and while I didn’t have too much problem with the controls (compared with issues I had with LCS on the PSP), I think the game just works better on the PS2 from that aspect. The helicopter flying missions, in addition to a couple missions where you have to aim and shoot, make the analog controls of the Dualshock much more desirable than the PSP game.

The game difficulty is pretty good. Early missions are designed to get you used to the way the game behaves, while some of the latter missions contain two or more parts of rather high difficulty if you go in unprepared. The game certainly isn’t a cakewalk to beat, but nor is it impossible at times.

Value/Replayability: A-

The main plot has about 15 hours of play in it, from what I found, which is pretty good for this type of title. Given the open-world nature and the numerous extra missions, I can easily see pulling another 7-8 hours to fulfill the rest of the side missions, if desired. The game definitely lets you decide how much of a bite you want to take from it.

Graphics: B

As with LCS, the game reduces the complexity of the graphics for the sake of the PSP processor, but everything is still recognizable from the original Vice City. There are notable issues with blurring and glare effects (including one that came about when I was driving right into the sunset) that look not-so-great on the PS2 version, but still workable. It is easy to outpace the rendering engine in that you’ll see buildings and objects appear just ahead when driving at fast speeds, and you see how the game uses building skeleton-like structures for far-off objects to make them still appear to be there, only filling in the details when you’re close. The game does drag a notch when you’re in the middle of intense gun battles. There’s also typical camera issues if you’re in tight corners as well.

Audio: A

The audio is a vast improvement of what LCS offered, which stuck with its own created music and used few of the celebrity voice actors they had for GTA3. In VCS, many of the same actors return for the reoccurring roles, including Philip Michael Thomas (star of the TV series “Miami Vice”) as Lance Vance who really makes the part work here. These are not called-in lines, as they definitely have a good delivery. And as noted previously, Phil Collins not only appears but lends his voice to the game as well as to his song “In the Air Tonight” while you beat up punks on scaffolding. The radio soundtrack uses a number of licensed music tracks from the 80s, different from the Vice City set, but still as good to capturing the flavor of the music scene; there’s also the usual call in shows and the like if that’s more your thing. Sound effects are otherwise pretty good.

Overall: A-

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is definitely more than just an expansion pack for Vice City. It offers enough twists on the gameplay and overall approach to moving through the game to be rather refreshing, and though designed with the PSP in mind, still offers the detail and subtle or not-so-subtle humor that Rockstar is known for. After the rather disappointing Liberty City Stories being not much more than feeling like an expansion pack, Vice City Stories really stands out as a fresh sequel. If you’re itching for Grand Theft Auto IV action and need something to tide you over, Vice City Stories will definitely fill that gap.

35 Responses

  1. were I can find the gta2 or 3 finished for psp

  2. looking for map.s and cheats so
    i can get %100 game completed,d
    GTA Vice City Stories on the PS2

  3. hej jeg vil godt ha gta

  4. Who fuck is this faggot ass bitch posting homosexual comments like a stupid little cunt?? Piece of shit. Vice City Stories is for fuckin twats.. and NIGGERS

  5. i agree with that last

  6. comment

  7. i cant find the film studio

  8. its for psp

  9. hey seth fuck u bich

  10. william ronholm is sexy

  11. What the hell? I searched my own name on google and that top post showed up, I didn’t post that above comment! Some kids were messing around in my tech class that know my email so they must have done that… wow.. Everyone disregard that discusting comment.

  12. how do you get some one to try to run you over on grand feft auto vice city psp

  13. where the hell is the film studios

  14. eat my cock or tell me

  15. i hate black people

  16. KIll all niggas

  17. what the f**ck ! is the flying car cheat i know there is one i saw it on you tube plus you can go in the big jumbo jet PLEASE TELL ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. stop being fucking resist you bitchs

  19. black people can get anyoying but so can fucking white

  20. does any one go on here any more

  21. were can i download this game for free

  22. All I know is that you are all ass holes.

  23. Cum.

  24. Fucky.

  25. Well this is fucky

  26. Oj Guge

  27. I think GTA is the best game ever made wen im old enough yall look for my name on game covers and get ready for the ultimate sims and GTA put together my game is gna b called reality or i think life reallife in my game you can do just bout anyting go to skool make a character u are born and your mother takes care of you depending on how you want to be treated answering questions you could end up on the streets or in a home end up a whore or a law person ILY

  28. Indians are fucking gay.
    fuk u bichs

  29. I am 12 and what is this?

  30. I’m a fucking spic…

  31. […] Offense: funny pictures MisrepresentationAlso despite help from a wing man or buddy you’ve got to do things yourself. Every person is funny pick up lines for […]

  32. “hey seth fuck u bich”

    Says the fag with two cocks up his ass!

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