Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone



There can be little doubt that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is going to be the biggest-selling game of the year, and deservedly so. In this heavily-hyped and very much anticipated sequel, gamers are transported back in time to the 1980's and are put in the shoes of a low-level gangster. With new characters, cooler vehicles, a more varied mission structure, incredible soundtrack and uncompromising approach, Vice City outdoes GTA3 in every department. The Laser examines Rockstar's much-anticipated game and finds out why it's so much bigger, badder and better that it exceeds even the highest expectations.

While most sequels are content to rest on the laurels of their predecessors, Vice City takes the formula that made the original so great and blows it up ten-fold, creating a game with unprecedented vision and scope. This is an epic game, with so much to explore and so many missions that it literally has hundreds of hours of gameplay and should keep even the most dogged player busy for hours on end. You can play for hours and not even begin to scratch the surface of how much the game has to offer. Vice City follows many of the same conventions set in the original game except that everything is larger and more elaborate, with more variety and an almost unimaginable amount of freedom. The biggest change is that instead of playing as an anonymous thug, you're now in the role of Tommy Vercetti. Tommy's a low-level gangster who's just been released from the Liberty City jail after a 15 year sentence. Once he gets out, the other members of 'the family' assign him the task of building up a criminal empire in the neon glow of Vice City. Once he gets there, things go horribly wrong in a drug-deal, leading to a murderous rampage and the loss of a lot of cash. Your mission is to find those responsible for this betrayal and exact your revenge.

Getting into Vice City is like riding a bike because most of the skills needed are carried over from the first game. Vice City will feel familiar instantly because it uses the same interface and controls with some minor adjustments. Most of the changes are for the better and allow more freedom and better controls. The biggest improvements come in the gameplay which make an already great title incredible. Rockstar has taken a smart path and evolved everything that was great about GTA3 and amped up the intensity and size of the game exponentially. As usual, you're a freelance thug who looks for odd-jobs to earn money. You hook up with  your contact who will give you a task to complete and you earn money when this is done successfully. Things start off slowly in the first part of the game, where your main goals are to please your bosses. Later on, you can buy properties and work for yourself. The decisions you make in the early rounds have a large effect, and will significantly change what path you take and the outcome. This is another key element to the game's appeal. As usual, you still get to jack cars for transportation, and can kill pedestrians for their money and health. Many of the traditional GTA conventions are included in Vice City, including Melee Modes, and you can still play some extra missions by picking up a pay-phone. As usual, you still start off at the bottom of the heap and work your way up slowly, but now you can buy properties such as strip-clubs and bars which brings income as well as power, making for an incredible gangster simulation.

However, car-jacking has been tweaked to make it even cooler. Instead of waiting until you stop the car, you can escape from cars while they're still moving - though not without losing some health. This seems like a small change, but can make a huge difference in your strategy, saving you from dying needlessly and allowing you to use the cars themselves as weapons in certain situations. Additionally, there are new types of vehicles including several types of motorcycles and scooters available. The bikes control differently than cars do, and are much more dangerous around curves. Riding these also makes you more vulnerable when your trying to escape cops. However, the bikes allow you to traverse through alleys much easier. Incredibly, Vice City also allows you to control choppers and boats later on in the game, which gives the game's missions a lot more variety and a much larger scope.

While Tommy has access to the standard array of machine guns and standard shooters, Vice City includes a new sniper rifle, plus some new melee devices including a chain-saw, flame throwers. There are much bigger weapons including grenade launchers and bazookas available later in the game. Aiming has been improved in the first person mode thanks to a new crouch move, which helps to steady your shot. However, the control in this area is the one area that's needs work and aiming is still difficult, even at close range. It's extremely frustrating to see someone right in front of your character and not be able to shoot them, but this can be overcome by practicing. Another significant addition to the gameplay is the fact that you can now use the guns while you're still in the car. Drive-Bys are a new feature that allow you to gun down pedestrians or shoot at someone trying to get away with your money. This adds yet another new dimension to the gameplay, giving you even more flexibility thus making Vice City an even more expansive experience, offering unlimited freedom. Even though you have new abilities, it doesn't mean the game is a cake walk. The other half of this equation is that the cops are significantly more aggressive in Vice City and won't hesitate to gun you down even when you have a 2 star wanted level. This makes things more intense and exacting because you can't make as many mistakes. It's much harder to escape chases, as cops will pile on you in a heartbeat. However, when you really cause havoc, you'll face an army of additional law enforcement officers including FBI and Military officers who'll throw everything they can at you including helicopters and tanks.

GTA: Vice City starts off in a similar vein to GTA3 but the deeper you get, the more elaborate and challenging things become. There are much more engrossing missions that require both skill and thought to beat. These are quite creative, and you'll frequently have to change clothes to fit in. For example, you have to change into overalls before you head over to a construction site to start a riot. Vice City's episodes form a cohesive narrative that drives the game and are much more inventive than in the last game. The game is brilliant at mixing things up and giving you a greater variety of tasks to complete. For example, in one mission, you have to find out where a thief is heading, but can't kill him without tipping off a rival crime boss. Another mission takes you out to on the ocean, where you have to guard a panicking drug-lord who's fleeing the city. Later on things get even more intense and interesting. Some of the missions are completely over the top, and require you to steal tanks from an army base. One of the more elaborate missions requires you to pick off the gunmen on top of a drug-dealer's fortress from a helicopter, then land and then wipe them out inside their hideout. These are really cool and challenging missions, most of which have multiple objectives that need to be completed. This means you'll need a lot of stamina, since when you fail, you have to go back to the start. While some of the missions can be beaten easily in your first attempt, the later missions become much harder. It's a bit frustrating after you've gone through a long mission, only to die near the end, but Vice City never becomes impossible.