Right now I’m nervous, extremely nervous. I just realized what Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is. It’s not an add-on; it’s neither a sequel nor a prequel. It’s a surprise. The whole game is one big surprise, much bigger than Grand Theft Auto 3 ever was. You never know what to expect. Sometimes he’s on your side, some other times he’s against you in such a way that you almost crack and try to hit uninstall. Fortunately, you love it too much to do that but when you’re happy and everything’s ok you wonder where the challenge is and why it is so simple.
Grand Theft Auto 3 was and still is a game of extremes. Without letting you choose a difficulty level the producers have always known what elements to combine to give birth inside you extremely powerful and much diversified feelings. If I had to tell what I missed the most during the game I’d say I never really felt I was the boss. When you have to do everything, like collecting money, you feel more like a courier than Tommy Vercetti. Well, let’s start with the beginning as we usually do so you’ll understand something that I hope, you’ll find really useful.
The action takes place sometime during the 80s. You’ve just got out of jail and you’re in a real need of cash so there are these buddies closing a drugs deal and you get to go with them, just to supervise. The deal goes bad, your buddies die, the money and the merchandise disappear and the big boss gets really angry but because he knows you for a very long time he’ll let you take care of the business and search the thieves. What’s Vice City? It’s a resort full of hotels, clubs and malls, all of them populated by all kinds of people from tourists to Haitians and Cubans. The system is simple. You’ll get to know a bunch of guys at a party who’ll call you for a series of favors which will surely enlarge your account. I won’t insist on the common elements with Grand Theft Auto 3 because I guess you’ve already played that but if you didn’t you’d better go, buy it and come back when you’ve finished it.
I really don’t know what to tell you first, the best parts or the worst parts. As I’m usually an optimistic I’ll let the ugly critics for the end. The first good change you’ll notice is that you’re given access right from the start to sports cars and motorbikes which surely means one thing: SPEED. At the beginning of Grand Theft Auto 3 all the cars belonged to the Snails Club. Now there is a totally different situation and you can easily find something decent. If we’re still talking about fast cars here I should tell you the city isn’t divided in three zones any more, but in two and you get access to the second area pretty soon.
This phenomenon has its advantages and disadvantages. First of all it’s harder to learn a big city right from the start but on the other hand you’ll experience a real feeling of freedom, not like in the previous title where I felt somehow caged. You’ll have to use the mini-map during the game to find your way around while the big map will show you a complete view of the city. Too bad you’ll have to go back to the menu so you can access it. Why didn’t they think about a keyboard shortcut for it, really eludes me. Maybe it’s because they have created something so complex, they forgot about the simple things.