Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a sandbox-style action-adventure computer and video game designed in Britain by Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design) and published by Rockstar Games. It is the second 3D game in the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise and sixth original title overall. It debuted in North America on October 1, 2002 for the PlayStation 2 and was later ported to the Xbox, and Microsoft Windows in 2003. It was made available on Steam on January 4, 2008. Vice City was preceded by Grand Theft Auto III and followed by Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Vice City draws much of its inspiration from 1980s American culture. Set in 1986 in Vice City, a fictional city modeled after Miami, the story revolves around Mafia hitman Tommy Vercetti, who was recently released from prison. After being involved in a drug deal gone wrong, Tommy seeks out those responsible while building a criminal empire and seizing power from other criminal organizations in the city. The game uses a tweaked version of the game engine used in Grand Theft Auto III and similarly presents a huge cityscape, fully populated with buildings, vehicles, and people. Like other games in the series, Vice City has elements from driving games and third-person shooters, and features "open-world" gameplay that gives the player more control over their playing experience.
Upon its release, Vice City became the best-selling video game of 2002. As of July 2006, Vice City was, in the American market, the best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time. Vice City also appeared on Japanese magazine Famitsu's readers' list of the favorite 100 videogames of 2006, the only fully Western title on the list. Following this success, Vice City saw releases in Europe, Australia and Japan, as well as a release for the PC. Rockstar Vienna also packaged the game with its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto III, and sold it as Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack for the Xbox. Vice City's setting is also revisited in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, which serves as a prequel to events in Vice City.
The player takes on the role of Tommy Vercetti, a member of the Liberty City mafia who has just been released from prison in 1986 after serving 15 years for killing eleven men. Tommy's old boss, Sonny Forelli, fears that Tommy's presence in Liberty City will heighten tensions and bring unwanted attention to his organization's criminal activities. To prevent this, Sonny ostensibly "promotes" Tommy and sends him to Vice City under the guardianship of mafia lawyer Ken Rosenburg to act as their buyer for a series of cocaine deals. During Tommy's first meeting with the drug dealers, an ambush by an unknown party results in the death of Tommy's bodyguards, Harry and Lee, and the cocaine dealer, Vic Vance (the main character of GTA:VCS). Tommy narrowly escapes with his life, but he loses both Forelli's money and the cocaine.
Tommy returns to his hotel room and phones Sonny to inform him of the outcome of the deal. Sonny, furious at the news, threatens Tommy about the consequences of messing with his organization. Tommy promises to retrieve the money and the cocaine and kill whoever was responsible for the ambush. Towards this end, Tommy meets up again with Forelli's lawyer Ken Rosenberg, who leads Tommy to contact a mid-level drug dealer and ex-military Colonel named Juan Garcia Cortez. Cortez expresses regret about Tommy's bad deal and promises that his own lines of inquiry are being made. Tommy also meets Cortez's daughter Mercedes, who becomes Tommy's girlfriend shortly thereafter.
While Tommy waits for the outcome of Cortez's investigation he meets British record producer Kent Paul, real estate mogul Avery Carrington and local free-lance criminal Lance Vance. Lance is eventually revealed to be helping Tommy because his brother and business partner was the dealer who was killed in the ambush, and he too is seeking revenge.
As time passes, Tommy befriends Colonel Cortez and begins to do regular work for him as an errand boy and hitman. One of his jobs for Cortez is to provide protection for a drug lord Ricardo Diaz during a deal with the Cuban gang Los Cabrones, which is ambushed by a gang of Haitians. Tommy does his job and saves Diaz's life, leading Diaz to begin hiring Tommy for his own agenda. Tommy takes this work because it pays well, in spite of his distaste for Diaz's character.
Tommy learns from Cortez that Cortez's own lieutenant, Gonzalez, was partially responsible for the ambush on Tommy's cocaine deal, and asks Tommy to kill Gonzalez with a chainsaw as a favour. Afterwards Cortez lays suspicion for the ambush on Diaz. Tommy initially plans to continue the status quo to prepare for his own attack, but his hand is forced when Lance Vance attempts to take revenge on Diaz by himself and fails. Lance is captured and taken to a junkyard to be tortured. Tommy rushes across the city and rescues him. With the die cast, the two move quickly to raid Diaz's mansion with assault rifles provided by Lance. They wound and then execute Diaz outside his office. With Diaz dead, and Colonel Cortez fleeing the country on his boat to escape arrest, the established drug empires in Vice City quickly crumble and Tommy and Lance personally take over, becoming Vice City's cocaine kingpins.
Tommy becomes the head of his own organization, the Vercetti crime family, and the more powerful and rich Tommy becomes, the more Lance begins to exhibit paranoid and sociopathic behaviors, to the point that he begins to abuse his own bodyguards and constantly calls Tommy in states of hysteria.
Tommy also makes alliance with Umberto Robina's Los Cabrones against Auntie Poulet's Haitians, even though he is at the same time hypnotized by Poulet's voodoo into helping the Haitians. Tommy and Poulet part ways after he helps fight off a Cuban assault on Haitian turf, after which he becomes unwelcome near their neighborhoods. In the end though, Tommy and the Cubans sneak explosives into the Haitian drug factory disguised in Haitian gang cars and blow it up, effectively ending the Haitian gang's power.
As his drug business expands, Tommy buys assests in nearly bankrupt companies such as a car lot, a cab depot, a strip club, a night club, a boathouse, a print shop for counterfeit money, an ice-cream company that is revealed to be a front for drugs, and an adult film company, all of which he turns back into competitive businesses. He also becomes a personal bodyguard to a rock band, an honorary member of a biker gang, and pulls off a major bank heist.
Eventually the Forelli family discovers that Tommy has taken over much of the action in Vice City without sending a cut to Sonny as required. Sonny sends collectors to force money out of Tommy's assets, but Tommy disposes of them. An angered Sonny Forelli arrives in Vice City with a small army of mafiosi, intent on taking their tribute by force. When Sonny and his henchmen arrive at the Vercetti Estate, Tommy attempts to give them their tribute in counterfeit money, and confronts Sonny over the hit he was supposed to pull on one man that turned into an eleven-man killing spree. However, Lance, having come to resent Tommy's substantial share of their profits, reveals to Tommy that he made a back-room deal with the Forelli's to topple the Vercetti family, and informs Sonny that the tribute money is counterfeit. In the game's climax, Tommy stands alone as Lance, Sonny, and Sonny's henchmen raid Tommy's Mansion.
Tommy first chases, ridicules, and finally kills Lance on the rooftop helipad, then storms downstairs where he faces off with Sonny. During the gunfight, Sonny reveals he is the one who set Tommy up fifteen years before, sending him to kill the eleven men who were expecting him. Tommy eventually kills Sonny in the main hall of his estate. With his enemies vanquished, Tommy establishes himself as the undisputed crime kingpin of Vice City. Ken Rosenberg, who has worked with Tommy throughout the events of the game, becomes his right-hand man.
The game is set in fictional Vice City, which is based on Miami, Florida. The game's look, particularly the clothing and vehicles, reflect (and sometimes parody) its 1980s setting. Many themes are borrowed from the major films Scarface and Carlito's Way, along with the hit 1980s television series Miami Vice. Vice City also parodies and pays tribute to much of 1980s culture in the cars, music, fashion, landmarks, and characters featured in the game.
Ricardo Diaz's opulent mansion and the climactic battle which takes place in it at the story's end, are very similar to their counterparts in Scarface. Another reference is the game's overall storyline, as it is highly similar to the film, as is the design of the final mission. There are also more subtle references, such as an apartment hidden within the game with blood on the bathroom walls and a chainsaw (in a nod to the film's "chainsaw torture" scene).
Vice City features dozens of characters, many appearing only in the cut scenes which describe each mission. The voice-talent includes Ray Liotta as protagonist Tommy Vercetti, Tom Sizemore as Sonny Forelli, Robert Davi as Colonel Juan García Cortez, William Fichtner as Ken Rosenberg, Danny Dyer as Kent Paul, Dennis Hopper as pornography Director Steve Scott, Burt Reynolds as Avery Carrington, Luis Guzmán as Ricardo Diaz, Miami Vice star Philip Michael Thomas as Lance Vance, Danny Trejo as Umberto Robina, Gary Busey as Phil Cassidy, Lee Majors as "Big" Mitch Baker, Fairuza Balk as Mercedes Cortez, and porn actress Jenna Jameson as Candy Suxxx. The voice of the taxi dispatcher is provided by Blondie singer Debbie Harry.
Although the main character is not the same as the one in Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City contains a few characters from GTA III at an earlier point in their lives. Donald Love, a business tycoon in GTA III, makes an appearance as an apprentice to real estate mogul Avery Carrington. The one-armed Phil Cassidy from GTA III appears in Vice City as well, with both arms intact, and one mission actually explains when and how he lost his arm.
Several of GTA III’s radio hosts can also be heard in Vice City: Lazlow, who was the host of Chatterbox, the talk radio station in GTA III, is the DJ for the hard-rock station, V-Rock, in Vice City (he mentioned in passing in GTA III that he used to be a DJ on a rock station). Toni, the burned-out, female disc jockey of Flashback 95.6, the 1980s music radio station in GTA III, also appears as a young, club-hopping DJ in Vice City's pop music station, Flash FM. Finally, Fernando, a self-glorifying procurer of women ("not a pimp... a savior," he claims) who appeared on Lazlow's show in GTA III, runs Emotion 98.3. Also naturist Barry Stark, a caller for Chatterbox in GTA III, appears as a guest on VCPR in Vice City.
Because Vice City was built upon Grand Theft Auto III, the game follows a largely similar gameplay design and interface with GTA III with several tweaks and improvements over its predecessor. The gameplay is very open-ended, a characteristic of the Grand Theft Auto franchise; although missions must be completed to complete the storyline and unlock new areas of the city, the player is able to drive around and visit different parts of the city at his/her leisure and otherwise, do whatever they wish if not currently in the middle of a mission. Various items such as hidden weapons and packages are also scattered throughout the landscape, as it has been with previous GTA titles.
Players can steal vehicles, (cars, boats, motorcycles, and even helicopters) partake in drive-by shootings, robberies, and generally create chaos. However, doing so tends to generate unwanted and potentially fatal attention from the police (or, in extreme cases, the FBI and even the National Guard). Police behavior is mostly similar to Grand Theft Auto III, although police units will now wield night sticks, deploy spike strips to puncture the tires of the player's car, as well as SWAT teams from flying police helicopters and the aforementioned undercover police units, à la-Miami Vice. Police attention can be neutralized in a variety of ways.
A new addition in the game is the ability of the player to purchase a number of properties distributed across the city. Some of these are additional hideouts (essentially locations where weapons can be collected and the game saved). There are also a variety of businesses called "assets" which the player can buy. These include a film studio, a dance club, a strip club, a taxi company, an "ice-cream delivery business" (acting as a front company), a boatyard, a printing works, and a car showroom. Each commercial property has a number of missions attached to it, such as eliminating the competition or stealing equipment. Once all the missions for a given property are complete, the property will begin to generate an ongoing income, which the increasingly prosperous Vercetti may periodically collect.
Various gangs make frequent appearances in the game, some of whom are integral to story events. These gangs typically have a positive or negative opinion of the player and act accordingly by following the player or shooting at him. Shootouts between members of rival gangs can occur spontaneously and several missions involve organized fights between opposing gangs.
Optional side-missions are once again included, giving the player the opportunity to make pizza deliveries, drive injured people to a hospital with an ambulance, extinguish fires with a fire truck, deliver passengers in a taxi, be a vigilante, using a police vehicle to kill criminals, and the ability to drive a bus, transporting fare-paying passengers. Monetary rewards and occasional gameplay advantages (e.g. increased health and armor capacity and infinite sprinting) are awarded for completing different difficulty levels of these activities. Different sums of money are awarded for landing trick jumps in motorcycles or fast cars depending on the number of flips and height achieved.
The weapons system used in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is derivative of those from its predecessors, but has been significantly expanded. Compared to 12 forms of weapons from Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City features a total of 35 weapons divided into 10 classes (classified by portability, firepower or function), with the player allowed to carry only one weapon from each class. Each class presents a set of weapons with each presenting their own strengths and weaknesses, such as weight, damage and efficiency. For example, when a player has semi-automatic pistol in hand (which inflicts lower damage, but has a higher firing rate and larger magazine capacity) and encounters ammunition for a Colt Python (which inflicts a large amount of damage, but is weak in firing rate and more frequent reloading), he or she can only choose to replace the automatic with the revolver or choose not to replace the automatic. Because of this, the player is only allowed to carry up to 10 weapons at once while being allowed to pick specific weapons from each class.
The weapons, which range from a variety of mêlée weapons and firearms become available to the player as he or she completes more and more missions. Guns (such as pistols, rifles, thrown weapons and heavy weapons) may be purchased at firearm store Ammu-Nation or obtained via a weapons dealer, and other types of weapons (such as baseball bats, hammers and chainsaws) can be bought at various hardware stores. There are also heavy-duty weapons such as flamethrowers and rocket launchers. These can be found in various corners of the city. Another quirk is the inclusion of a camera, which is used in only one mission to capture pictures. There are certain mistakes like the Colt Python ejecting the spent casings, the M1911A1 holding 17 rounds and the PSG1 and SPAS-12 holding 7 rounds.
Various ports of Vice City also present modifications on the inventory of weapons. The PlayStation 2 version is the only version of the game to feature tear gas, while the PC version and the Xbox version from Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack features modified names of weapons (i.e. the MP5 renamed as "MP" and the PSG-1 sniper rifle renamed as ".308 Sniper") The Ruger assault rifle has changed color as well.
Vice City includes a large collection of licensed music from 1986 and before that can be listened to by means of various in-car radio stations. Each station covers a particular music genre, such as rap music (Wildstyle), rock (V-Rock) and (most predominantly) pop music (WAVE 103, Flash FM). The tracks are for the most part works from various real-life artists, such as Megadeth, Electric Light Orchestra, Judas Priest, Toto, Blondie, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, David Lee Roth, INXS, Michael Jackson, Kate Bush, Bryan Adams, Go West, Luther Vandross, Kool & the Gang, A Flock of Seagulls, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Spandau Ballet, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Hashim, Corey Hart, Laura Branigan, REO Speedwagon, and Eumir Deodato. Additionally, a talk station (KCHAT) and a public radio debate show Pressing Issues (VCPR) are included. The radio stations and the game's storyline also feature a fictional heavy metal band called Love Fist. The multi-CD soundtrack to the game was an instant best-seller.
In addition to music and interviews, the stations also include satirical commercials, such as the Degenatron, a fictional video game console (Save the green dots with your fantastic flying red square!), likely a parody of the Atari 2600. The commercials and the game setting are consistent: Degenatron advertisements appear on billboards, and ads air for stores in which the player can actually shop, such as Ammu-Nation. Months before the release of Vice City, Rockstar Games created a Degenatron "fansite", which allowed users to actually play the "emulated" games, there is also a commercial for the "popular" weapons store Ammu-Nation ("We even have the rocket launcher that was used when we whipped Australia's Ass"), a deodorant named "Pitbomb", which is a parody of Right Guard, and a car called the Miabatsu Thunder, a parody of the Mitsubishi Starion, which was a favored import sports car of the day.
The Windows Version of the game allows users to import MP3 songs, allowing users to listen to their own music while playing the game. To be able to do this the user must go to the folder mp3 ( *:\Program Files\Rockstar Games\Grand Theft Auto Vice City\mp3 ) and copy the songs they want to play in their radio station.
As of September 26, 2007, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has sold 15 million units according to Take-Two Interactive. As of March 26, 2008, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has sold 17.5 million units according to Take-Two Interactive, making it the fourth highest selling video game for the PlayStation 2.
Like Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has been labeled as violent and explicit, and is considered highly controversial by many special interest groups, some of whom suggest that parental supervision is necessary when young people play this game, since children were never the game's intended audience. The ESRB rated this game "M" for Mature. In Australia, it was pre-censored in case of it receiving a refused classification rating in which the ability to pick up a prostitute was blocked, so the game could be given a MA15+ rating. In 2010, these small cuts were added back and the game still retained its MA15+ rating.
In November 2003, Cuban and Haitian groups in Florida targeted the title. They accused the game of inviting people to harm immigrants from those two nations. The groups' claims of racism and incitement to genocide attracted a good deal of public attention towards Vice City. Rockstar Games issued a press release stating that they understood the concern of Cubans and Haitians, but also believed those groups were blowing the issue out of proportion. Under further pressure, including threats from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to "do everything we possibly can" if Rockstar did not comply, Take-Two (the game's publisher) did agree to remove several lines of dialogue. This seems to have largely satisfied the groups who raised the complaints, although the case was then referred to a state court, downgraded from the initial decision to refer the case to a federal court. In 2004, a new version of the game was released, removing and changing those lines of dialogue.
In February 2005, a lawsuit was brought upon the makers and distributors of the Grand Theft Auto series claiming the games caused a teenager to shoot and kill three members of the Alabama police force. The shooting took place in June 2003 when Devin Moore, 17 years old at the time, was brought in for questioning to a Fayette police station regarding a stolen vehicle. Moore then grabbed a pistol from one of the police officers and shot and killed him along with another officer and dispatcher before fleeing in a police car. One of Moore's attorneys, Jack Thompson, claimed it was GTA's graphic nature — with his constant playing time — that caused Moore to commit the murders, and Moore's family agrees. Damages are being sought from the Jasper branches of GameStop and Wal-Mart, the stores from which GTA III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, respectively, were purchased and also from the games' publisher Take-Two Interactive, and the PlayStation 2 manufacturer Sony Computer Entertainment. The case Strickland v. Sony was heard by the same judge who presided over Moore's criminal trial, in which he was sentenced to death for his actions. In May 2008, he was criticised by Judge Dava Tunis for unprofessional conduct during the Strickland v. Sony case.
In September 2006, Jack Thompson brought another lawsuit, claiming that Cody Posey played the game obsessively before murdering his father, stepmother, and stepsister on a ranch in Hondo, New Mexico. The suit was filed on behalf of the victims' families. During the criminal trial, Posey's defense team argued he was abused by his father, and tormented by his stepmother. Posey was also taking Zoloft at the time of the killings. The suit alleged that were it not for his obsessive playing of Vice City, the murders would not have taken place. Named in the suit were Cody Posey, Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive, and Sony. The suit asked for US$600 million in damages. The case was dismissed in December 2007, as New Mexico held no jurisdiction over Sony or Take-Two.