Written by Jason Franz
I can’t remember the last time I’ve installed a game on my PC that had so many entertaining qualities matched with such brilliant gameplay. All too often PC developers focus on the eye candy and give gameplay little thought. WithGTA: Vice City, Rockstar not only avoided that problem, but they take us back to the glory days of fun PC gaming.
After an effortless installation I fired up the game, configured my settings and began my journey as Tommy Vercetti, on my way to terrorizing the b…autiful Vice City landscape.
Being a port from the PS2 to PC, I was curious to see how Rockstar would use the graphics power of today’s video cards withGTA: Vice City. I must say I was pretty impressed with the results. There are plenty of graphic options available to accommodate any level of gaming rig. With everything cranked up, the game was smooth and extremely easy on the eyes. Those that have enjoyed the PS2 version will be surprised at the crisp upgrade GTA: Vice City received for the PC port.
Because of the extra horsepower that today’s PC game rigs have, the load times and draw distance are nothing like we experienced on the PS2. The draw distance was the first thing that caught my attention. Unlike it’s close cousin Mafia, GTA: Vice City creates an incredible sense of freedom, with a view of the entire city possible from the top of a tall building. Textures were acceptable and frame rates will vary depending on your system. For the most part, it plays extremely smooth, even with dozens of characters and vehicles on the screen.
Something needs to be said about good music in a game. Nothing helps more in creating an amazing environment like good music and great gameplay. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to pull a drive-by shooting with Queens of the Stone Age blasting on the radio. Now I know, it’s amazing! How is this possible you ask? With the help if the mp3 function built into the radio stations you can tune into your favorite tunes with the scroll of your mouse wheel while driving around the streets of Vice City.
A game cannot survive on good music alone. Voice acting in GTA: Vice City is brilliant. Ray Liotta (as Tommy Vercetti)leads a team of voice actors that create some amazing characters that you interact with throughout the game. The voice acting gives the dramatic in-game cut scenes a hollywood production flavor, that really sucks you in to the whole experience. Overall, it was some of the best voice acting I’ve heard in recent history.
Other ambient sounds in the game were all decent. Some cars sounded better than others and some weapons felt a bit weak, but overall a nice mix that worked well with the music and voice acting.
The gameplay in GTA: Vice City is the perfect crunchy crust of this wonderful eggroll of sound and visuals. The gameplay would have to be my number one reason for wanting to play GTA: Vice City on a PC. Navigating Tommy Vercetti through Vice City is a dream with a mouse and keyboard. For those PC gamers that prefer a gamepad, that option is available as well. You could always try a combination of the two, the gamepad for driving and the mouse/keyboard combo when on foot. I prefered the mouse/keyboard combo as it felt more natural on the PC.
Rockstar did a fantastic job with the gameplay in the original PS2 version and they top themselves with the PC port. Movement is smooth and predictable with a variety of zoom options and camera angles to choose from when driving. When using the mouse/keyboard on foot, the natural movement of the mouse makes it a breeze to engage a dozen armed police in a tight space.
With tons of missions, an insane amount of side jobs and hidden treasures, GTA: Vice City is one of those games that you’ll keep on your hard drive for a long time. When I had completed about 30% of the game, I was amazed at how much content I had been through and how much more there was to do. Buying property and exploring the different parts of Vice City open up all kinds of different side missions and reveals hidden weapons. I love the rampage missions, they’re always a nice way to vent when touring around the busy city.
One of the advantages of having GTA: Vice City on the PC is that it opens the game up to the mod community. Already there are over a dozen GTA: Vice City PC websites with custom missions, vehicles and weapons for you to download. With the variety of missions in the game and the additions from the mod community, this is a tough title to ignore.
With the success and exposure of the PS2 version, it’s no surprise that GTA: Vice City for PC is a must have. Rock solid gameplay, emersive characters and improved graphics make GTA: Vice City one of my favorite PC titles of the year.