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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, developed by Rockstar North is the next GTA game after Grand Theft Auto 3. Unlike it's predecessor, which wasn't set in any particular time period, Vice City takes place in the 80s and thus the soundtrack to the game is made up of several 80's favorites, such as "I ran" by A Flock of Seagulls.

Following this success, Vice City saw releases in Europe, Australia and Japan, and became available on the PC. Rockstar Vienna also packaged the game with its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto III, and sold it as Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack for the Xbox. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was succeeded by Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and preceded by Grand Theft Auto III.

Vice City's setting is also revisited in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, which serves as a prequel to events in Vice City.


The game uses a tweaked version of the game engine used in Grand Theft Auto III and similarly presents a huge cityscape, fully populated with buildings (from hotels to skyscrapers), vehicles (cars, motorcycles, boats, helicopters) and people to explore.

The game follows a largely similar gameplay design and interface with GTA III with several tweaks and improvements over its predecessor. The gameplay is very open-ended, a characteristic of the Grand Theft Auto franchise; although missions must be completed to complete the storyline and unlock new areas of the city, the player is able to drive around and visit different parts of the city at his/her leisure and otherwise, do whatever they wish if not currently in the middle of a mission. Various items such as hidden weapons and packages are also scattered throughout the landscape, as it has been with previous GTA titles.


Tommy riding a motorcycle.

Players play as Tommy Vercetti who can steal vehicles, (cars, boats, motorcycles, and even helicopters) partake in drive-by shootings, robberies, and generally create chaos. However, doing so generally attracts unwanted and potentially fatal attention from the law enforcement agencies such as the police, FBI and National Guard). Police behavior is mostly similar to Grand Theft Auto III, although police units will now wield night sticks, deploy spike strips to puncture the tires of the player's car, as well as SWAT teams from flying police helicopters and the aforementioned undercover police units, à la-Miami Vice.

A new addition in the game is the ability of the player to purchase a number of properties distributed across the city. Some of these are additional hideouts (essentially locations where weapons can be collected and the game saved). There are also a variety of businesses called "assets" which the player can buy. These include a film studio, a dance club, a strip club, a taxi company, an "ice-cream delivery business" (acting as a front company), a boatyard, a printing works, and a car showroom. Each commercial property has a number of missions attached to it, such as eliminating the competition or stealing equipment. Once all the missions for a given property are complete, the property will begin to generate an ongoing income, which the increasingly-prosperous Vercetti may periodically collect.

Various gangs make frequent appearances in the game, some of whom are integral to story events. These gangs typically have a positive or negative opinion of the player and act accordingly by shooting at the player or following him. Shootouts between members of rival gangs can occur spontaneously and several missions involve organized fights between opposing gangs.

Optional side-missions are once again included, giving the player the opportunity to make pizza deliveries, drive injured people to a hospital with an ambulance, extinguish fires with a fire truck, deliver passengers in a taxi, and be a vigilante, using a police vehicle to kill criminals. Monetary rewards and occasional gameplay advantages (e.g. increased health and armor capacity and infinite sprinting) are awarded for completing different difficulty levels of these activities. Players are also awarded $50 for punching a criminal running away from a policeman, as a "good citizen's bonus". A $5 bonus is awarded when the player drops a passenger from a bus. Different sums of money (depending on height, flips, etc.) are awarded for landing trick jumps in motorcycles and/or fast cars. In rare instances, players will receive $200 "unique stunt bonus"es for the best stunt.


Vice City draws much of its inspiration from 1980s culture. Set in 1986, the story revolves around Mafia member Tommy Vercetti, who was recently released from prison. After being involved in a drug deal gone wrong, Tommy is forced to seek out those responsible. Throughout the game, Tommy forges out a criminal empire in Vice City, gradually obtaining contacts, running businesses and seizing power from the other criminal organizations present in the city.


A shot of the cityscape.

Vice City is a prequel to the preceding game in the series, GTA III (which takes place in 2001). The game is set in fictional Vice City, which is based on Miami, Florida. The game's look, particularly the clothing and vehicles, reflect (and sometimes gently parody) its 1986 setting (with the packaging and artwork in particular owing a great debt to 1980s artist Patrick Nagel). In contrast to the gritty urbanism of Grand Theft Auto III's Liberty City, Vice City appears (mostly) clean and upscale, with golden beaches, waving palm trees, and vivid sunsets.


The player takes on the role of Tommy Vercetti, a Mafia hitman who has recently been released from prison in Liberty City after serving a long prison sentence in connection with fifteen contract killings. The Mafia family for whom he used to work, the Forellis, fearful that Tommy's presence in the neighborhood will heighten tensions and bring unwanted attention upon their criminal activities, ostensibly "promote" Tommy and send him to the titular Vice City to act as their buyer for a series of cocaine deals. During Tommy's first meeting with the drug dealers, they are ambushed by a group of machine-gun wielding Colombians, resulting in the death of Tommy's body guards and one of the cocaine dealers, Victor Vance. Tommy narrowly escapes with his life, though in the process of escaping, he loses both the Forelli's drug money and the cocaine.

Tasked by Sonny Forelli with retrieving the money and cocaine and killing whoever was responsible for the ambush, Tommy sets up permanent residence in a beach front hotel. He makes contact with the Forelli's only other connection in Vice City, a corrupt, coke-addict lawyer named Ken Rosenberg, who, upon hearing of the ambush, has holed himself up in his office and begun popping stimulants for fear of being killed in his sleep. Rosenberg nonetheless proves to be a vital connection, and through him, Tommy starts working with Colonel Cortez who in exchange for his services will find who organized the ambush. While working for Cortez, Tommy meets Lance Vance and forms a partnership with him and Ricardo Diaz, a Colombian crime lord and Vice City's most powerful mobster. After working with Diaz in certain assignments Cortez informs Tommy that his (Cortez) right hand man, Gonzalez, informed Diaz abut the exchange and Diaz was the one who organized the ambush, leading Tommy and Lance to plan on taking him out.

However Lance tries to take him out alone and is captured by Diaz and is sent to be tortured in a junkyard, however Tommy rescues him and after helping Cortez escape from the French government due to Cortez robbing missile technology, Lance and Tommy set off to kill Diaz. Tommy and Lance enter Diaz's mansion and after taking out Diaz's men they confront Diaz in his office and kill him.

With Diaz dead, his empire quickly crumbles, and Tommy and Lance personally take over all of Diaz's old business, not only becoming Vice City's cocaine kingpins, but also ruling over a criminal empire which grows to encompass contract killings, pornography, counterfeiting, and protection, with several front businesses ranging from a Film Studio to a Taxi Cab Company. The men personally buy or otherwise acquire these properties and businesses with no assistance from the Forelli family. Instead, Tommy becomes the head of his own organization, the Vercetti Gang. The more powerful and rich Tommy and Lance become, however, the more Lance begins to exhibit paranoid and sociopathic behaviors, to the point that he begins to physically abuse his own bodyguards and constantly calls Tommy in states of hysteria.

Eventually, the Forellis find out that Tommy has taken over crime in Vice City, cutting them out completely. The Forelli's send a couple of men to force money out of the businesses Tommy and Lance took over, however Tommy finds out about this and shoots the men dead, angered Sonny Forelli decides to take the matter in his own hands and kill Tommy. Sonny Forelli arrives in town with a small army of Mafioso and street thugs, intent on on wiping Tommy out once and for all. Lance, having come to resent Tommy's substantial share of their profits, betrays Tommy and allies himself with the Forellis and attempts to have Tommy whacked. In the game's climax-- a pastiche on the end of the Brian De Palma film Scarface-- Lance, Sonny, and Sonny's henchmen raid Tommy's mansion in an attempt to kill him and seize his assets. Tommy confronts Lance on the roof of his mansion and the two men engage in a gun battle that ends with Tommy fatally shooting Lance. Tommy and Sonny then have a gunfight in the mansion, causing Sonny's death.

His enemies now vanquished, Tommy establishes himself as the undisputed crime kingpin of Vice City, taking on Ken Rosenberg as his right-hand-man.


See Characters of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for more information

The game features dozens of characters, many appearing only in the cut scenes which describe each mission. The voice-talent includes Ray Liotta as protagonist Tommy Vercetti, Tom Sizemore as Sonny Forelli, Robert Davi as Colonel Juan García Cortez, William Fichtner as Ken Rosenberg, Danny Dyer as Kent Paul, Dennis Hopper as pornography Director Steve Scott, Burt Reynolds as Avery Carrington, Luis Guzmán as Ricardo Diaz, Miami Vice star Philip Michael Thomas as Lance Vance, Danny Trejo as Umberto Robina, Gary Busey as Phil Cassidy, Lee Majors as "Big" Mitch Baker, Fairuza Balk as Mercedes Cortez, and porn actress Jenna Jameson as Candy Suxxx. The voice of the taxi dispatcher is provided by Blondie singer Debbie Harry.


The weapons system used in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is derivative of those from its predecessors, but has been significantly expanded. Compared to 12 forms of weapons from Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City features a total of 35 weapons divided into 10 classes (classified by portability, firepower or function), with the player allowed to carry only one weapon from each class. Each class presents a set of weapons which each presenting their own strengths and weaknesses, such as weight, damage and efficiency. For example, when a player has semi-automatic pistol in hand (which inflicts lower damage, but has a higher firing rate and larger magazine capacity) and encounters ammunition for a Colt Python (which inflicts a large amount of damage, but is weak in firing rate and more frequent reloading), he or she can only choose to replace the automatic with the revolver or choose not to replace the automatic. Because of this, the player is only allowed to carry up to 10 weapons at once while being allowed to pick specific weapons from each class.

The weapons, which range from a variety of mêlée weapons and firearms become available to the player as he or she completes more and more missions. Guns (such as pistols, rifles, thrown weapons and heavy weapons) may be purchased at firearm store Ammu-Nation or obtained via a weapons dealer, and other types of weapons (such as baseball bats, hammers and chainsaws) can be bought at various hardware stores. There are also heavy-duty weapons such as flamethrowers and rocket launchers. Another quirk is the inclusion of a camera, which is used in only one mission to capture pictures.

Various ports of Vice City also present modifications on the inventory of weapons. The PlayStation 2 version is the only version of the game to feature tear gas, while the Xbox version from Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack features modified names of weapons (i.e. the MP5 renamed as "MP" and the PSG-1 sniper rifle renamed as ".308 Sniper").


Many themes are borrowed from the films Scarface and Carlito's Way, along with the hit 1980s television series Miami Vice. Vice City also parodies and pays tribute to much of 1980s culture in the cars, music, fashion, landmarks, and characters featured in the game. After much advertisement of the game, the song "I Ran (So Far Away)" by A Flock of Seagulls became the known signature theme of the game.

Ricardo Diaz's opulent mansion, Club Malibu, and the climactic battle which takes place in it at the game's end, are very similar to their counterparts in Scarface.Another reference is the game's overall storyline, as it is highly similar to the film, as is the design of the final mission. There are also more subtle references, such as a hidden apartment room with blood on the bathroom walls and a chainsaw (in a nod to the film's "chainsaw torture" scene)Additionally, the "Mr. Vercetti" suit players receive when purchasing a local strip club bears a striking resemblance to Tony Montana's.

Most of the characters wear the then-fashionable white or pastel baggy cotton suits and, like Miami Vice, much of the action takes place in mansions, on speedboats, or in other glamorous settings. In fact, if the player's "wanted level" reaches three stars, an undercover sports car (called a Cheetah) strongly resembling a Ferrari Testarossa, which is featured prominently in Miami Vice, joins the police in chasing the player; the occupants of the sports car are two undercover police officers resembling the Miami Vice main characters (Crockett and Tubbs) in both skin tone and dress.

The Cuban and Haitian gang member uniforms are heavily based on clothes worn by two extras in a scene of the pilot episode of Miami Vice where Tubbs first arrives at Miami International Airport.

The game also features many references to 1980s trends and events:

  • Second generation video games and home video game consoles: in radio commercials for the "Degenetron" games console, graphics are referred to as "green dots" and a "red square".
  • Pablo Escobar, and by association the cocaine subculture of the game's setting, are alluded to by the Vice City airport's name: Escobar International.
  • Hair metal is parodied through the game's fictitious band Love Fist in the fashion of Spinal Tap.
  • The Cold War, referenced many times on several radio stations, including VCPR, in which Congressman Alex Shrub accuses another speaker of "sounding red."
  • Typical 80s music - New Wave, glam metal, 1980s hip hop and synthesizer pop.
  • Self-help programs, including those on Thor, as well as Jeremy Robard's "Think Your Way To Success" program.
  • Politicians from the '80s: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Also on VCPR they had a nod to the benefit concert which took place in 1985 Live Aid when Maurice Chavez said "A bunch of rock groups came together for famine aid to Alaska with the song Do They Know It's The Fourth Of July" which is a parody of the song "Do They Know It's Christmas" which was written by the Charity Band Aid for famine aid to Eithopia.

The game features parodies of Miami landmarks and neighborhoods.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was released to extremely positive reviews from critics and fans alike. The game was praised for its open-ended action and entertaining re-creation of 1980s culture.

As of July 2006, Vice City was, in the American market, the best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time. Vice City also appeared on Japanese magazine Famitsu's readers' list of all-time favorite 100 videogames in 2006

As of September 25, 2007, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the third best-selling video game in the United States ahead of its predecessor Grand Theft Auto III and behind its successor, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. As of September 26, 2007, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has sold 15 million units,with 6.8 million of those units being sold in the US.Although the Xbox version was released six months after the PlayStation 2 version, it nonetheless sold well as part of the Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack.


Like Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has been labelled as violent and sexually implicit by many special interest groups, and is considered highly controversial. Some suggest that parental supervision is necessary when young people play this game, since children were never the game's intended audience. The ESRB rated this game "M" for Mature. In Australia, it was slightly modified to comply with current Australian censorship laws; the ability to pick-up prostitutes was disabled, allowing the game to be given an MA15+ rating by the OFLCA. In the UK, Vice City received an "18" certificate from the BBFC.

In November 2003, Cuban and Haitian groups in Florida targeted the title. They accused the game of inviting people to harm immigrants from those two nations.[16] The groups' claims of racism and incitement to genocide attracted a good deal of public attention towards Vice City. Rockstar Games issued a press release stating that they understood the concern of Cubans and Haitians, but also believed those groups were blowing the issue out of proportion. Under further pressure, including threats from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to "do everything we possibly can" if Rockstar Games did not comply, Take-Two Interactive (the game publisher's parent company) did agree to remove several lines of dialogue. This seems to have largely satisfied the groups who raised the complaints, although the case was then referred to a state court, downgraded from the initial decision to refer the case to a federal court. In 2004, a new version of the game was released, removing and changing those lines of dialogue.

In February 2005, a lawsuit was brought upon the makers and distributors of the Grand Theft Auto series claiming the games caused a teenager to shoot and kill three members of the Alabama police force. The shooting took place in June 2003 when Devin Moore, 17 years old at the time, was brought in for questioning to a Fayette police station regarding a stolen vehicle. Moore then grabbed a pistol from one of the police officers and shot and killed him along with another officer and dispatcher before fleeing in a police car. One of Moore's attorneys, Jack Thompson, claimed it was GTA's graphic nature - with his constant playing time - that caused Moore to commit the murders, and Moore's family agrees. Damages are being sought from the Jasper branches of GameStop and Wal-Mart, the stores from which GTA III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, respectively, were purchased and also from the games' publisher Take-Two Interactive, and the PlayStation 2 manufacturer Sony Computer Entertainment. The case is currently being heard by the same judge who presided over Moore's criminal trial, in which he was sentenced to death for his actions.

In September 2006, Jack Thompson brought another lawsuit, claiming that Cody Posey played the game obsessively before murdering his father, stepmother, and stepsister on a ranch in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The suit was filed on behalf of the victims' families. During the criminal trial, Posey's defense team argued he was abused by his father, and tormented by his stepmother. Posey was also taking Zoloft at the time of the killings. The suit alleged that were it not for his obsessive playing of Vice City, the murders would not have taken place. Named in the suit were Cody Posey, Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive, and Sony. The suit asked for US$600 million in damages.

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