Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
|Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories|
|Series||Grand Theft Auto|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer (PSP)|
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is an action-adventure game developed in a collaboration between Rockstar Leeds and Rockstar North, and published by Rockstar Games. It was released in October 2006 for PlayStation Portable and later for PlayStation 2 in March 2007. The game is the tenth instalment in the Grand Theft Auto series and the sixth and final one of the 3D universe (consisting of all games released from Grand Theft Auto III up until then). This was also the last game in the series to use well-known Hollywood actors as voice actors; all games released afterwards, starting with Grand Theft Auto IV (which marked the beginning of the HD universe), would instead use lesser-known voice actors.
The game is a prequel to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, set in the same fictional city, Vice City (inspired by Miami, Florida), and taking place two years prior, in 1984 (making it, chronologically, the first game in the 3D universe). It features many returning characters from Vice City, including the protagonist himself, Victor Vance, although he was only briefly featured in the original game (being killed in the opening cutscene), with his brother Lance playing a bigger role instead. The game's story revolves around Victor and Lance working together to build their own criminal empire, all the while trying to solve their conflicts with rival gangs, drug lords and even between each other, after the former is unfairly kicked out of the U.S. Army.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is an action-adventure game set in an open world environment and played from a third-person perspective, structured similarly to other releases from the Grand Theft Auto series. The core gameplay consists of elements of a third-person shooter and a driving game, affording the player a large environment in which to move around. On foot, the player's character is capable of walking, running, swimming, jumping, as well as using weapons and basic hand-to-hand combat. The player can drive a variety of vehicles, including automobiles, boats, planes, helicopters, jet-skis and motorcycles.
The open, non-linear environment allows the player to explore and choose how they wish to play the game. Although storyline missions are necessary to progress through the game and unlock certain areas and content, they are not required, as the player can complete them at their own leisure. When not taking on a storyline mission, the player can freely roam game's world. The player can also partake in a variety of optional side missions. The traditional side missions of the past games are included, but have been moderately upgraded and enhanced compared to previous titles. A new addition to the game is "Beach Patrol", in which Victor (the player's character) must deal with bikers on the beach by beach buggy (by ramming or shooting to knock them off their bikes) or throwing life preservers to drowning swimmers by boat or by taking a paramedic around to injured people on the beach.
One of the key gameplay elements in Vice City Stories is "empire-building". New to the Grand Theft Auto series, it borrows a few ideas from Vice City's "properties" and San Andreas' "gang wars" systems. To make money, the player must open and operate various businesses on property taken over from enemy gangs – these can range from protection rackets to brothels or smuggling compounds; the type and scale of a business is entirely dependent on the player's wants. For Vice City Stories, the combat system was overhauled. The targeting mechanism has been tweaked to "intelligently target"; enemies posing a threat or attacking the player will be targeted over pedestrians. The biggest changes concern the hand-to-hand combat system, as the player can now perform grappling moves and throws, and stand on top of enemies lying on the ground. The player is able to bribe policemen or hospital staff when "Wasted" (killed) or "Busted" (arrested) to lower their wanted level, and keep weapons that ordinarily would have been lost.
The standard hidden package system returns in the form of 99 red balloons scattered around the city. This is a reference to Nena's 1984 hit "99 Luftballons", which was featured in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Improvements to the graphics since the release of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories include new animations, faster load times, a longer draw distance, reductions in clumping of pedestrians and vehicles, more complex explosions, and increases in the density of objects, vehicles, and NPCs.
Like the game's predecessor, the PSP version of Vice City Stories features a multiplayer mode, for up to 6 players through WiFi ad-hoc mode (local area). The game features 10 different modes of wireless multiplayer gaming, which incorporate the use of automobiles, aircraft, and water-based vehicles. Various pedestrian and character models from the single player mode are available as player avatars. These multiplayer modes are not included in the PS2 version.
Vice City Stories takes place within Vice City during 1984. Set two years before the events of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the setting features several areas that are different from the 1986 setting, including locations being constructed or whose plot used to house something different - an example is that the site of a car showroom in 1986, originally housed a trailer park in 1984.
Like previous Grand Theft Auto games, Vice City Stories features notable voice actors within its cast. Several actors who portrayed characters in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - including Gary Busey, Luis Guzmán, Philip Michael Thomas, and Danny Trejo - make returns reprising their original roles for the game, though with their characters receiving notable changes in appearance and lifestyles to reflect who they were in 1984. The game's protagonist, Victor Vance, features a different character model, and was portrayed by Dorian Missick rather than Armando Riesco, who voiced the character in Vice City.
A virtual model of Phil Collins makes a cameo in the game, making him the first famed musician to ever appear in a Grand Theft Auto game, although the character was portrayed by Joseph Martignette during an in-game cutscene; on-screen performance of his song "In the Air Tonight" was also included in another in-game cutscene. In addition, Gregg Hughes and Anthony Cumia, along with several crew members of their program The Opie and Anthony Show, provided lines for several minor characters in the game.
In 1984, Victor "Vic" Vance (Dorian Missick) is a Corporal for the U.S. Army in Vice City. His supervisor, Sergeant Jerry Martinez (Felix Solis), works as a drug smuggler, and convinces Vic to become involved in the business as well to earn money quicker for his sick brother Pete. Martinez tasks Vic with managing a drug deal which goes awry, angering Marinez. He later introduces Vic to Phil Cassidy (Gary Busey), an eccentric war veteran who owns a gun range at the docks, before setting him up, leading to Vic being dishonorably discharged from the army and charged with high treason.
Now on the streets, Vic does several missions with Phil, who offers him a place to stay. He soon runs into Martinez again, who has Vic and Phil do a couple of jobs for him, until betraying them and leading them into a trap, which the pair barely escape from, before parting ways. Vic also meets Marty Jay Williams (Jim Burke), the leader of a local gang called the Trailer Park Mafia and Phil's brother-in-law, who employs him for several jobs. Marty often abuses his wife Louise (Chelsey Rives), who ends up developing a relantionship with Vic, angering Mary. One day, he badly beats and kidnaps Louise, but Vic is able to track Marty down and kill him, taking over Trailer Park Mafia as a result, now renamed the Vance Crime Family.
Soon after, his brother Lance Vance (Philip Michael Thomas) arrives to help him expand his business. As Vic takes over rackets from gangs like the Cholos and Bikers to expand his criminal empire, Lance sets up deals with various contacts. Vic is introduced to Umberto Robina (Danny Trejo), the leader of the Cubans, and helps him destroy the Cholos' business, eliminating them from Vice City and earning the Cubans' respect. Meanwhile, Lance also meets local drug dealer Bryan Forbes, who is later revealed to be an undercover DEA agent who tries to run away with their money. The Vance brothers kidnap him, but after being lured by Forbes into several traps, Vic is forced to kill him.
Later, they locate and steal a major drug shipment, unaware that it belongs to the Mendez brothers, Armando (Yul Vazquez) and Diego (Ruben Trujillo), the biggest drug kingpins in Vice City. They capture the Vance brothers, but Lance lies to them that Martinez is a DEA agent who wants evidence to arrest them and that he stole the coke shipment. Vic and Lance then do several jobs for the Mendez brothers, who connect Vic to Reni Wassulmaier (Barbara Rosenblat), a transsexual film director. Vic helps Reni's friend Barry Mickelthwaite (Timothy Spall), the manager of Phil Collins (himself), to get Phil to his concert unharmed by Forelli hitmen Barry owes money to.
Reni later connects Vic to Ricardo Diaz (Luis Guzmán), a drug baron and the Mendez brothers' rival, who also employs Lance and Vic for some jobs. Armando and Diego are not pleased with this and, after learning from Martinez the truth about their stolen drugs, attempt to have Vic and Lance killed, but they escape. Vic then cooperates with Diaz to take them out, breaking into their safe and destroying their bearer bonds to make them bankrupt. As revenge, the Mendez brothers kidnap Louise, as well as Lance when he attempts to confront them on his own, forcing Vic to assault the Mendezes' mansion to save them. He kills Armando and saves Louise and Lance, but the former, badly beaten, dies in his arms. Vic leaves angry, swearing revenge against both Martinez and Diego.
Vic meets with Diaz one final time, who helps him track Diego. He then steals an army chopper from Fort Baxter with Phil Cassidy's help, and uses it to assault Diego's fortress, but is forced to land on the building when the chopper is shot. Vic raids several floors of offices, before learning that Martinez and Diego are on the roof. After a tense stand-off, Victor kills both of them, just as Lance arrives in his helicopter. The brothers agree to never engage in the drug business again and leave Vice City to give their brother Pete money for his medications.
Take-Two Interactive originally announced the title was to be released in North America on 17 October 2006 and in Europe on 20 October 2006, but an announcement in early September stated that the game's North American release had been delayed until 31 October. It was also announced that the game would be released on 10 November 2006 in Australia. Moreover, in Europe (Excluding the UK & Ireland) the game suffered another delay, from 3 November 2006, to 10 November 2006, the same as Australia.
PlayStation 2 port
On 7 February 2007 Rockstar Games announced plans for a PlayStation 2 port, released on 6 March. It was confirmed by Rockstar Games that the PlayStation 2 version of the game would be an almost straight port. The port has improvements such as enhanced graphics (including the addition of bloom effects, enabled via a "trails" option), draw distance, and performance as expected, but also includes a few new side activities that were not in the PSP release such as five new odd jobs, six additional unique jumps, five more rampages, and a new Easter egg.
While other Grand Theft Auto ports have had extra features added (such as replays or custom soundtracks), this is the first port of any Grand Theft Auto game to include extra in-game content.
The PS2 version of Vice City Stories was announced as a digital release for the PlayStation 3 in 2012, as a PlayStation 2 Classics title, and was released in April 2013 via the PlayStation Network. It has since been removed from PSN.
The PlayStation 2 port of the game was criticised for having the same coding as the PSP version and for fixing very few issues and removing some things, but was praised for better lighting.[by whom?] As of 26 March 2008, Vice City Stories has sold 4.5 million copies according to Take-Two Interactive. Hyper's Eliot Fish commends the game for using "the slick veneer of the 1980s [and the] story is well integrated into missions".
The game's PlayStation Portable version received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom.
- Received IGN's award for the best licensed soundtrack on PlayStation Portable in 2006.
- Best Handheld Game - Golden Joystick Awards 2007.
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