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. The tenth instalment in the Grand Theft Auto series, the game was initially released as a PlayStation Portable exclusive in October A port for the PlayStation 2 was later released in March
Set within the fictional Vice City (based on Miami) in , the game is a prequel to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and follows the exploits of ex-soldier Victor Vance, who starts his own criminal empire alongside his brother Lance, but faces opposition from rival gangs, drug lords and other enemies. Due to being a prequel, Vice City Stories features more returning characters from Vice City aside from Victor and Lance, and characterizes them in a different manner to reflect who they were in , while also depicting their transformation into their selves; the same can be said about the city itself, which suffers several aesthetic changes as the story progresses, bringing it closer to its Grand Theft Auto: Vice City counterpart.
Vice City Stories received positive reviews. The next entry in the series, Grand Theft Auto IV, was released in April , and started a new era for the series.
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 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 in within Vice City, and forms part of the "3D Universe" canon of the Grand Theft Auto series. Set two years before the events of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the game's setting features several areas that are different from the version of Vice City, including locations being constructed or whose plot used to house something different. An example is that the site of a car showroom in was under construction in , and the business was in a smaller building down the road.
Like previous Grand Theft Auto games, Vice City Stories features notable voice actors within its cast, and is the last one in the series to do so. 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 their characters received notable changes in appearance and lifestyles to reflect who they were in The game's protagonist, Victor Vance, has a different character model, and was portrayed by Dorian Missick rather than Armando Riesco, who voiced the character in his brief appearance 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 , Corporal Victor "Vic" Vance is stationed in Vice City's army base, Fort Baxter. To raise money for medication for his sick brother Pete, Vic agrees to help his supervisor, Sergeant Jerry Martinez, finding himself involved in the drug trade, while also assisting eccentric war veteran Phil Cassidy at the city's docks. After a drug deal goes awry, Martinez sets him up, causing Vic to be charged with high treason and dishonorably discharged from the army. Forced onto the streets, Vic works for Phil in exchange for a place to stay to rebuild his life. When Martinez hires the pair to do work for him, he betrays them, forcing the pair to escape a trap. After parting ways with Phil, Vic works with Phil's brother-in-law Marty Jay Williams, leader of the Trailer Park Mafia, who frequently abuses his wife Louise. Angered over Vic's growing relationship with his wife, Marty beats and kidnaps her, forcing Vic to kill him.
With Marty dead, Vic takes over his gang and renames it the Vance Crime Family. Aided by his recently arrived brother, Lance Vance, Vic slowly begins to take over rackets from rival gangs to increase his power. In the process, he earns the respect of the Cuban street gang for taking out their rivals, and deals with a DEA agent posing as a drug dealer. Upon stealing a major drug shipment, the Vance brothers find themselves kidnapped by the Mendez brothers, Armando and Diego, Vice City's biggest drug kingpins and the shipment's owners. Lance lies to the pair that Martinez, who regularly deals with them, is an undercover DEA agent and stole the drugs as evidence. Vic and Lance are released and agree to work with the Mendez brothers. Meanwhile, Vic also helps transsexual film director Reni Wassulmaier and his friend Barry, Phil Collins' manager, protect Phil from Mafia hitmen, to whom Barry is indebted.
Reni later introduces Vic to Ricardo Diaz, a drug baron and the Mendez brothers' rival, who employs the Vance brothers. However, the Mendez brothers grow distrustful of them, and eventually make an attempt on their lives when Martinez exposes their lie to them. Vic works with Diaz to bankrupt the Mendez brothers, who kidnap Louise and Lance in retaliation. Assaulting the Mendez brothers' mansion, Vic manages to kill Armando, but fails to save Louise, who dies from injuries she received. Angered, Vic swears revenge against Martinez and Diego, and works alongside Diaz one final time to track them down. Using a stolen army chopper, Vic assaults their hideout, and kills both men. After Lance arrives too late to assist, the brothers agree to never engage in the drug business again and leave Vice City to give Pete money for his medication.
Take-Two Interactive originally announced the title was to be released in North America on 17 October and in Europe on 20 October , 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 in Australia. Moreover, in Europe (Excluding the UK & Ireland) the game suffered another delay, from 3 November , to 10 November , the same as Australia.
PlayStation 2 port
On 7 February 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 , as a PlayStation 2 Classics title, and was released in April via the PlayStation Network. It has since been removed from PSN.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories has received "generally favorable" reviews from critics, according to review aggregatorMetacritic.
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 , Vice City Stories has sold million copies according to Take-Two Interactive.Hyper's Eliot Fish commended the game for using "the slick veneer of the s [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 , copies in the United Kingdom.
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