International criminals needing a favor, mobsters looking to cut a deal, tyrannical real estate developers itching for land, illegal immigrants blasting through residential neighborhoods in all-out urban warfare – sprinkle it with a dash of tourists and retirees, and you have yourself that all-too familiar pastel-plastered dystopian paradise of southern Florida. Welcome back to Vice City, metropolis of the bent n’ wide. We’ve missed you.
The Times, They Are-a-Changin’.
"many of the established locales that you’ve grown to know and love still have various changes to undergo in the two-year span between Vice City Stories and Vice City."
Vice City Stories takes place in 1984, two years prior to the events that occurred in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. And although many of the locations are identical to their ‘86 counterparts, there are still a plethora of areas within the city that are suspended in their infancy.
Likewise, many of the established locales that you’ve grown to know and love still have various changes to undergo in the two-year span between Vice City Stories and Vice City.
Variety isn’t limited to the scenery and real estate, however. Vice City Stories introduces a wide selection of new vehicles and weapons to ensure that our return to sex, scandal and sabotage isn’t a complete bore.
And, of course, Vice City wouldn’t be Vice City without the erratic weather. Whether or not Vice hit a calm spell during 1986 is beyond us (no pun intended), but you can be certain that the city will be experiencing some new forms of meteorological phenomenon this time round.
Your Mission, If You Choose to Accept It…
"Many a mission in LCS offered about as much complexity as a trip to your local grocery store."
Face it. Liberty City Stories certainly didn’t offer much in the way of mission depth. Many a mission in LCS offered about as much complexity as a trip to your local grocery store, and although this works well for portable gamers who only have a little bit of time to kill, it just didn’t feel right - especially for a Grand Theft Auto title.
Rocket Launcher returns
Rockstar has nipped this issue in the bud with Vice City Stories. Pixelantes will be exposed to longer, more complex missions that tier off – rather than the short and linear templates that Liberty City offered us.
In the first few missions, for example, you’ll find yourself ripping through the open water on a jet ski, cutting through traffic on a motorbike, crashing a drug deal, chasing down a speedboat, launching yourself through the air onto a docked ship (a la Dukes of Hazzard), gunning your way through flocks of angry thugs, assaulting bikers from the skies, and gunning through more flocks of angry thugs.
If that don’t qualify as a decent introduction to the game, I don’t know what does.
All The World's a Stage. (Even the wet bits.)
Just as Vice City improved on the physical landmass available in GTA3, Vice City Stories ups the ante from LCS, giving us more space – both interior and exterior – to explore.
"VCS, in its pre-Vercetti era, will make you feel like a Vice City virgin once again."
Add to that the drastically improved draw distance, the greater selection of vibrant colors, and new landmarks (chunder-wheel, anyone?), and you can be sure that VCS, in its pre-Vercetti era, will make you feel like a Vice City virgin once again. And now that you have the ability to explore the open waters – which have been completely redone for VCS, with improved physics and clarity – there is virtually no part of Vice that remains un-accessible.
I left some hotdogs to thaw in the sink. Milk is in the fridge. Welcome home, hon.
All in all, Vice City Stories offers us a grand mixture of both the old and the new. Anyone who has played through GTA: Vice City will no doubt find VCS to be a relaxing visit to a familiar place, much like returning home after spending a year in college. The overwhelming sense of nostalgia, partnered with a sense of discovery and intrigue at the variety of new attractions in-game, promises to be an interesting and rewarding experience for both newcomers to the series and veterans alike.