Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

Oh the portable Vice is very, very nice.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: December 10, 2006
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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is, for many, their favorite GTA setting. Maybe it's all the 80's glitz, maybe it's the layout of the city, maybe it's the main character, Tommy Vercetti (voiced with nasally panache by Ray Liotta), who was about as good a cross between GTA: San Andreas' CJ and the mute lead from Gran Theft Auto III. Whatever the reason, folks fell in love with Rockstar North's depiction of 1986 Miami.


Now, two years earlier, while Tommy is still in the clink, another tale will be told. Victor Vance, brother to the eternally retarded Lance Vance, one of the most annoying characters in Vice City, has arrived in Vice City on a military transfer and, after just a few "errands" for his CO, quickly finds that the corruption winding its way through the Vice City underground has more than a few tendrils out into the "respectable" community. He's quickly framed, tossed out of the Military and onto the city streets, left to fend for himself.

Thus begins Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, and while I was never one of those people that counted Vice City as a favorite locale (truth be told, I think it was the weakest of the three PS2 games due to a handful of bugs and a city that never really felt like home -- give me Liberty City's more modern climate and layout any day), I'm still in awe of what Rockstar Leeds has done with the PSP hardware. This is, in nearly every way, a better looking version of Vice City -- with an absolutely massive draw distance, plenty of detail in the vehicles, and some fantastic direction in the cutscenes.

Unfortunately it also carries with it one of the biggest issues I had with the original Vice City: Lance Vance. Now, it would be nigh impossible to create a game that takes place in Vice City -- let alone one that takes place before the events of the PS2 game (how else are they going to explain how Lance ended up in town and how Vic gets iced at the start of GTA: VC?) -- without including Lance, but from his very first appearance, the game starts to slide into the same series of frustrating die-and-repeat missions that Vice City suffered from. Chances are, if Lance is involved in the mission, it will probably end up being one of your least favorite tasks -- they certainly were for me.

There is hope, however. The rest of the game is, largely, exactly what most are probably looking for -- a chance to revisit a slightly different version of Vice City with a new storyline, new missions (some of which are very, very nicely tweaked for the PSPs shorter play sessions), and tons of recurring characters in a world that continues to build itself into a living, breathing take on America throughout major historical periods.

Though it is "only" a PSP entry into the series, it's not only cannon, but actually introduces some seriously cool elements into the mix. A Godfather-like empire-building subset of missions is constantly available, and in true GTA fashion, you start it by simply missing up the car of the occupants inside the building you wish to take over. Torch the car or bike and they come swarming out. Gun these thugs down and you can jump into the building to finish the clean-up, offing the occupants and wrecking their merchandise.

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