Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Disaster Year 2002: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Rockstar North followed up Grand Theft Auto 3 with obscene speed, producing this pastel accented summer holiday. In contrast to Liberty City's docksider sprawl, Vice City is all beaches, high-rise spring-ups, and neon smog burns. The update adds missile speed motorcycles; a variety of aviatables; and a massive shipment of hysteria weaponry. Missions are structured a little looser too, players can catch a cab ride straight back into action should they fail. It doesn't quite provide the much needed checkpoints, but it's a gesture. All this topped off with a caricatured 80s time-frame that firmly locks this title in an Americana wonderland, reconfigured out of Dundee kid deconstructions of import television and scuzzy gangster epics.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is also the only, to date, installment to be rooted around a central celebrity appearance. Ray Liotta stars as Tommy Vercetti, a venomously aspirational thug clashing with his surroundings. Little effort is extended to disprove the notion that you are playing as Henry Hill vacationing in De Palma land. This doesn't work as a disconnect though, Vice City's tone is consistently referential. The game more an escalating TV stunt playset spectacular than a tome serious criminality muddle. Everything geared towards fun and sweaty excess. Players scheme and plunder with their Liotta doll to secure bankable real estate, then kick back and collect the vig. The allowance quickly rolls in, offering easier access to the bigger toys. Vice City is the boozy spend-thrift entry, dizzy from an unexpected windfall, and generous to a fault.