Steal away for big fun with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
November 1, 2002

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

FROM: Rockstar Games RATED: Mature (blood and gore, violence, strong language, strong sexual content)

REVIEWED FOR: PlayStation 2

You are Tommy Vercetti. Never mind that you look like the love child of Don Johnson and Steven Seagal and sound like Ray Liotta (who voices the character). Life seems like it’s going to improve 10-fold. You’ve just been released from the joint after having served a 15-year stint. And because you kept your mouth shut, the mob is about to reward you with a few choice operations of your own.

So begins Grand Theft Auto: Vice City–one of the year’s most anticipated video games. It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert gamer or a novice dude. The latest game in this franchise is a must have. The game is so well-crafted it sucks you in faster than the squealing cars being chased by the cops. Speaking of which, the vehicles here are plentiful. Sure, you can put in a good chase by foot, but why bother when you can steal a motorcycle (which is deceptively difficult to steer) or bully someone into “lending” you their ride.

You’ll want to–no, make that need to–devote at least a couple of hours to this choice game. Fast moving, smart and stylized, Vice City is slick and fun. That said, it’s also violent (think “Good-Fellas”) and intended for a 17-and-up age group.

But there’s humor infused into the plot as well. In the pizza delivery vignette, pies are hurled in the same manic way that bullets are shot out of guns.

Oddly enough, though, for a game that pays such meticulous attention to detail, the characters’ hands appear deformed. The fingers aren’t mobile, so they all paw at the air as if they’re wearing fingerlike mittens.

Set in the 1980s, Grand Theft Auto has a look and feel that are dead-on, including a soundtrack that’ll bring you back to a time when big hair and pastel suits were all the rage. Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” sets the mood during one chase, and the talk radio option is a blast.

The game also has some other nice touches. Gary Busey, Dennis Hopper and Deborah Harry all lend their vocal talents. But two of the nicer turns belong to Philip Michael Thomas (of “Miami Vice” fame) and porn star Jenna Jameson, who voices a character named Candy Suxxx. Did I mention there are some bada-bing, bada-boom moments in a strip club?

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