In 2002, close on the heels of revolutionary sand-box blockbuster Grand Theft Auto III, came Vice City. It had some ambitious heights to scale and a great deal of expectations that it's critically-acclaimed predecessor had set. Vice City managed not only to do that, but it also raised the bar of open-world gaming in every aspect we would think of. The game is set in the luminous era of 80's in the hedonistic tropical paradise of Vice City; a neon-lit metropolis with shining beaches, loosely based on the real-world Miami.
Players assume the role of Tommy Vercetti, a Mafia hitman who is a highly ambitious go-getter, no nonsense kind of guy. He is back after serving fifteen years in prison for a killing spree. The Mafia family of Liberty City send him down "south" to Miami as opposed to Liberty City, to avoid bringing unwanted attention that could be brought by Tommy's return. They set up a drug deal in Vice City in which Tommy is supposed to participate in the Mafia's hopes to gain a strong foothold down south. The deal goes sour, Tommy's comrades are killed, and he is left in a new city without any money, with little to turn to and a big debt the pay off. [Unlike GTA III's mute protagonist, Tommy Vercetti has dialogues, which really do well to create his unique persona.]
Despite the failure of the deal, Sonny Forelli decides to give Tommy a chance to get the drugs and the money back. Tommy promises to get back the lost goods and kill those responsible. He decides to turn to Ken Rosenburg, who escaped the ambush at the deal with him, to decide their next move.
Ken informs Tommy about a big party going down on the yacht of Colonel Juan Garcia Cortez. Using Ken's invitation, he attends the party and is introduced (although not in person) to several of Vice City's most important people. A loud mouthed Ricardo Diaz arrives, and Tommy takes the Colonel's daughter to the strip club at her request. Following the party, Tommy tells Ken that they need someone from the street, and Ken suggests that they confront Kent Paul. Tommy meets Kent Paul at The Malibu, a dance club where Kent is seen unsuccessfully trying to woo a woman. After a confrontational meeting, Kent tells Tommy about a chef who might be involved. Tommy kills the chef after an unproductive interrogation. In the process he meets Lance Vance, who gives him a handgun and shows him the local Ammu-Nation store.
Despite the fact that he's met some people, Tommy still hasn't found what he's looking for. For the next few days, Tommy performs jobs for Cortez and even Diaz as well as others. One mission involves him and Lance Vance overseeing a deal between Diaz and a group of Haitians. The Haitians turn on Diaz, but Tommy and Lance open fire. Diaz barely escapes with his life. Following the deal, Diaz asks Tommy to meet his friend Quentin. Apparently someone has been selling real estate on his watch, and he is pissed off about that. In reality, Quentin is actually Lance Vance. Diaz killed Lance's brother and he is convinced that Tommy is next. Together they do the job asked of them, but now Tommy knows to keep a close eye on Diaz
Diaz has clearly lost his mind (although that assumes he even had a sane mind to begin with). Tommy witnesses him shooting his VCR after it fails to operate correctly and firing at birds that make the mistake of landing on his car. Diaz's next mission for Tommy is to steal a boat that apparently is faster than his. Nobody can have a faster boat than Diaz, so Tommy takes it and drives it over to the mansion. However, Tommy learns about someone that moors their boat off the coast and sells their stuff to the first person that gets to them. Using the fast boat he just stole, Tommy as well as Lance beat everyone else to the freelancer. Eventually the two collect enough information to prove that Diaz is the one responsible for the deal at the beginning of the game going wrong.
Unfortunately, Lance, who's eager to get revenge for the killing of his brother, attempts to take out Diaz himself. He fails miserably and is taken hostage in a junkyard. Tommy rolls in guns blazing and manages to free Lance from the clutches of Diaz's henchman. At this point, Tommy realizes it's now or never; they need to remove Diaz from Vice City. Tommy arrives at Diaz's mansion with Lance. Lance apparently has been stockpiling guns for quite some time; he opens the trunk of his car and the two grab assault rifles. A massive assault begins on the mansion and after a ferocious gunfight Diaz is executed in his own home. Tommy assumes control of the mansion and he, along with Avery Carrington (who gave him missions earlier), Lance Vance, and Ken Roseburg establish the Vercetti gang. Tommy at this point is allowed to start buying real estate throughout Vice City, which in turn generates revenue for him to collect. It may seem like Tommy is on top of the world, but he still has $3,000,000 to collect and pay to Sonny Forelli.
After a few more missions, one of which involved stealing cop uniforms and blowing up a section of the mall, Sonny decides that he isn't going to wait any longer. He sends someones down to Vice City to collect the money. Tommy creates $3,000,000 in counterfeit cash, but not before killing the man Sonny sent down for the money. Sonny arrives at the mansion, and Tommy hands over the fake money. Then, the unthinkable happens. Lance Vance, who is wildly upset that he isn't getting his fair share of Tommy's money, informs Sonny that the cash is fake. A raid begins on Tommy's mansion, but Tommy manages to kill Lance, Sonny, and all of Sonny's men. Now, with his boss and the maniac he once considered a friend out of the picture, Tommy returns to controlling Vice City.
The core gameplay design and interface in Vice City remains roughly the same as in GTAIII, other than few interesting twists and added extras. This is very much a Grand Theft Auto title, which means players can steal or "jack" vehicles, kill pedestrians, cause mayhem, escape from the cops, you get the idea. Most of the story progresses through "missions" or "jobs" which will be given out to Tommy by his various employers at various stages. Later in the game you will have to purchase real estate to have access to some of the missions. Much of the mission design remains same and many of the missions involve eliminating targets either on foot or in vehicle, completing a certain deal, or driving over contacts to a fixed location and so on. However, many of Vice City's missions are truly unique and their novelty adds to the fun of playing the game. Addition of motorcycles and helicopters in Vice City is a welcome change.
The ability to buy businesses like a night club, a taxi company, film studio, printing press, strip club or car showroom is another addition to Vice City, this is the main generator of income in the game. These businesses once bought unlock a couple of side-missions which need to be completed in order for the businesses to generate revenue. Players could also participate in illegal street races and earn money. As usual there are rampages, stunts and hidden packages - a tradition in GTA games by now.
Vice City also features some vehicles that weren't seen in Grand Theft Auto III, such as helicopters and motorcyles. There is also a flyable plane that is remarkably easier to pilot compared to the Dodo from GTA III.
DJ: Fernando Martinez
Genre: Power ballads, Rock
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Genre: Disco, Soul, R&B
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Fists: Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is by beating the crap out of someone with your bare hands.
Brass Knuckles: If you feel your mitts aren't doing enough damage, slap on some brass to maximize the pain you're inflicting. These replace the Fist 'weapon', rather than going in the melee weapon slot.