Welcome back to Vice City. Welcome back to the 1980s.
From the decade of big hair, excess and pastel suits comes a story of one man's rise to the top of the criminal pile. Vice City, a huge urban sprawl ranging from the beach to the swamps and the glitz to the ghetto, was one of the most varied, complete and alive digital cities ever created. Combining open-world gameplay with a character driven narrative, you arrive in a town brimming with delights and degradation and given the opportunity to take it over as you choose.
Release Date: 08/03/2014
Available on: iOS, Android
Probably the best port that you could ever hope to play
I remember a time when I thought that playing the original Grand Theft Auto and machine-gunning innocent civilians on the streets from a top-down perspective was probably as good as this game was going to get. I was obviously quite the fool though, as since then, Grand Theft Auto has come a very long way in terms of both time and progress in every facet of what it has to offer. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City may be 11 years old, but playing the port for iOS is brings us the sense of nostalgia for the original as the original did for the 1980s Miami period.
If you didn’t spend your younger gaming days playing the original Grand Theft Auto, then you can’t really claim to have been around in the early days of the game where people thought nothing of the (what now appears to be) basic, birds-eye view approach and the relatively restricted number of weapons available. Fast-forward to the present day and the fairly recent release of GTAV and the original seems as if it was in a comparative dark age, when in fact it was, oh, actually it was 16 years ago, which is a damned long time in gaming terms. At the time of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, could you have ever imagined playing this game mission for mission on your phone? If your answer is anything other than no, then you are definitely a liar, but my point is that we have come a long way since then, and we now have Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for iOS, bringing us a portable version of the game that began the open-world revolution.
If for some crazy reason you are unfamiliar with the original Vice City, then in it you played as Tommy Vercetti in fictional 1980s Miami-esque Vice City, a place where crime paid and what you actually paid for was absolutely nothing. And this is exactly the experience you get with this iOS ported version of the game, right down to the voice of Ray Liotta being behind the super-criminal that is Vercetti. You can also hope to encounter every mission, steal every car, and listen to every song blasting through the radio from the original. Just think of it as an unadulterated Vice City in your pocket where car theft, murder, and general naughty behaviour can take place in the palm of your hand, and not in the way that you are thinking after that previous and unintentional innuendo.
The Good and The Bad (There’s No Ugly Here)
Due to the iPhone/iPad’s retina display, Rockstar couldn’t possibly get away with leaving the graphics as is and therefore has hit us up with some new character models, high-resolution textures, and lighting effects. Sure, the model of the city and the graphics in general seem fairly dated, but that is the price for you pay for nostalgia; the realisation that graphics simply weren’t as great ten years ago must be accepted if you are to fully enjoy this wonderfully violent yet handily portable trip down memory lane.
I hate to badmouth the classic Vice City, but with the good memories also come flooding back the bad ones including the boring inter-mission blocks of driving that take an age to get done, as does getting back to the start of a mission if you happen to fail it. The on-screen controls aren’t the most effective either, and even if you do have an external controller for it (defeating the purpose and negating the portability of the port), you will still find driving a little tricky to control. You can customise the on-screen buttons however, making it a much more flexible experience than the console version. Perhaps one of the greatest features is the ability to take your own songs and hear them play through the radios during the game (hearing Skrillex play in a 1980s surrounding is a little surreal, let me tell you).
Yes it has its flaws and yes the graphics and gameplay are a little dated, but this port of Vice City has improved visuals, a flexible system for controlling the action, and some customisable soundtracks to keep you happy. For those that can’t get along with 10-year old game design, then that’s pretty tough; you’re probably the kind of person that can’t appreciate a bit of nostalgia and thinks that The Beatles aren’t very good because their music isn’t less than 2 years old. I have no time for people like that, but I do have time for this game and all those that appreciate the warm, pink-hued nostalgia that this game brings.
Grand Theft Auto Vice City is developed by Rockstar Games.