Miami Vice The Game

Miami Vice: The Game

Filling the seedy underbelly of South Beach with bullet holes is fun.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: August 9, 2006
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Rebellion has been on roll as of late (if, uh, one game is considered a roll), seemingly nailing the whole duck-and-cover mechanic that was widely introduced in the slightly underwhelming kill.switch. They did it to absolutely killer effect in Rogue Trooper, and with Miami Vice, they've managed to graft the simple snap-to cover system to Resident Evil 4's single analog and aiming control scheme and sprinkled in elements of light strategy with a handful of mini-games.


The end result is a game that feels uniquely suited to the PSP's slightly cramped control scheme, and though the experience is over far too quickly, and things like the respect system seem utterly busted, it's still a short-but-sweet take on the recent Michael Mann remake of his original Miami crime drama. Miami Vice doesn't try to do too much, and as a sort of prequel to the movie it avoids many of the traps of licensed games admirably.

Playing as the updated visages of either Sonny Crockett or Ricardo Tubbs, undercover cops trying to disrupt the flow of drugs into Miami, the game effectively puts you into a handful of compartmentalized rooms in a handful of familiar locales like warehouses and mansions, though it's not strictly limited to dank indoor areas. One of the things that Rebellion and their Asura Engine have managed to do is paint alternating pictures of the sun-soaked bits of Miami and the neon-lit, shadow-drenched underworld parts. Thanks to heavy use of mood lighting and some faux-bloom, it actually ends up being one of the PSPs best looking games.

As I mentioned before, the game borrow liberally from RE4's controls, using the analog nub to walk and turn, with toggles for a quick 180 degree spin (Square Button and back), a sprint (hold Square, which gives you a fun Gears of War-style camera bob) and strafing (Triangle). Tapping L Button when next to most objects will give you a context-sensitive snap-to action (i.e. if it's a box, you'll drop behind it, if it's something like fridge door, you'll stay standing). Holding R puts you in an over-the-shoulder aiming view and all weapons handily sport a laser sight for long-distance shots. Like RE4, when you're aiming, you can't move, so finding cover is vital, though it doesn't guarantee you won't get hit a few times while peeking out.

At first, I found the cover system cumbersome; too often my weapons wouldn't hit a target or I'd spend too much time lining up a shot and get pegged while I was doing it. The fact that the AI in the game is more or less brain dead -- merely running from one pre-set cover position to another blindly -- certainly didn't help my aim. But as things progressed, and I gained more powerful weapons, it eventually became a moot point as things got far more accurate and I learned when to peek out. And that's when the game got fun.

There were other factors that helped snare me, though; in between missions, there are a few basic changes of pace. You can pay off a snitch with small amounts of whatever the hot drug is coming into the city to find the location of all the enemies, drug stashes, FlashRAMs (more on those in a second), first-aid kits and the control panel to shut down security cameras (which you can shoot -- if you can find them before they find you) so more enemies don't pour into the level.

Since the criminal world is fueled by drug trade, that was included as a factor too. You can trade with the common pushers on the streets in meth, coke, MDMA (Ecstasy), weed, PCP and LSD in smallish amounts (you can only hold up to 100 drug units at a time), but the real key to getting money, which ties into the unlocks system for armor, reputation and weapons, is talking to the barons.

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