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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Score: 84%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Third Person Shooter/ Mission-Based Driving

Graphics & Sound:
Can Rockstar overcome the failure of Liberty City Stories? Have they finally created a successful GTA side story?? Will there ever be a Grand Theft Auto game where buildings don't pop in??? Fughettaboutit. Straight from the PSP to your Playstation 2, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is Rockstar's most recent trip back to the well.

Overall, the graphics are a step up from Rockstar's last port--Liberty City Stories. Character's look slightly more detailed, and the overall appearance of Vice City has been improved over the PSP, but still doesn't look as sharp as the last Vice City. Buildings and cars still magically show up on the horizon as you near them, and as before, if you turn around and then back, all the characters and vehicles are reshuffled. The game still bugs out in certain areas, and either sends you through a wall or through the ground, leaving you falling for an eternity, forcing you to reset the game.

The sound is a big step up from the PSP, but not much different from the first Vice City. Ray Liotta is nowhere to be found this time, instead you're playing as Vic Vance, brother of the traitorous Lance Vance, voiced by Phillip Michael Thomas. Other second rates and has beens in the cast include Gary Busey and Luis Guzman (way to spend the big bucks, guys). Pedestrians still spit out random one liners and obscenities as you pass them by, and street ambience sounds exactly the same as before.

The radio stations all have brand new music to drive to, but it still feels a bit off. Its not the songs themselves, per se, but instead the fact that we've already had the 80's soundtrack in the first Vice City.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories starts you out as Vic Vance -- Lance Vance's brother -- who is a private in the military here on the little islands of Vice City. The game takes place about a week or two before Tommy Vercetti arrives. Just as before, you'll have to find or steal a car to get around town to accomplish missions.

As with all other GTA games, you're given free reign of the city, except now you start on the west island, and the east island is blocked off due to an oncoming hurricaine. All cars in the game are yours; that is, should you decide to steal one. The same large array of weapons is available, even though some of them now have different names.

The mission based storyline runs shorter than any other GTA game out there. If you do no side missions and don't spend time checking out the scenic routes, you can probably have the game wrapped up in under twelve hours. But where's the fun in that? Its Grand Theft Auto we're talking about. The game's just not any fun if you can't stop and blow up the roses.

Just like others in the GTA series, Vice City Stories has no difficulty settings. Every mission is different (even though sometimes only slightly), and they all get a bit tougher as you progress. Some are more tedious than others, but few are actually hard. If you're familiar with the structure of past games and know what kind of missions you're going to have, then this game should be a breeze.

Loyal GTA gamers know the mission layouts. The timed missions and the missions where you have to keep your car undamaged are the hardest, and you'll likely be playing them more than once. Delivery missions and assassin missions are the easiest, because all you really have to do is stay alive. And of course, missions with insane stunt bonuses forced into them are neither hard nor easy, they're just really fun.

Game Mechanics:
Very little about the game was changed during its move from the PSP to the PS2. However, players who haven't played the PSP version will notice a few changes since Vice City. First off, vehicles take much longer to reach top speed than they used to. To accomplish most of the insane stunt bonuses placed all around the world, you'll sometimes have to leave three-quarters of the island as your runway.

The camera is dead on about 99% of the time. Every now and then it will get stuck behind a tree or a building, which can mean disaster for you if you're being chased by a bunch of angry Haitians.

Overall, the controls are just as good as the full blown PS2 GTA games, though the aiming lock on is still a little shaky. You don't always auto-target the nearest person, which is crucial on some missions.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories may not be the best out there, but it is still GTA, and since its only twenty bucks, its almost more worth it to buy the game than to rent it.

-Crazy Kangaroo, GameVortex Communications
AKA Josh Meeks

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