As a PSP game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories stands as one of the best handheld games on the platform, it's a great looking game with a lengthy story, a few memorable characters and a lot of fun 80s music. This PlayStation 2 port may have a lot of the same features as the original PSP game, but at the same time it feels somewhat unnecessary due to the fact that we've already had a Grand Theft Auto game based in Vice City on the format. Still, this "new" Grand Theft Auto game is a steal at $20 and does offer enough exciting missions to warrant a try ... especially if you're the type of person who didn't catch Vice City Stories last year on the handheld console.
Welcome to Vice City ... again. This is Vice City Stories, a prequel to 2002's runaway PlayStation 2 hit, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Set in 1984, Vice City Stories is the beginning of the modern Grand Theft Auto tale. As you might expect from a prequel like this, Vice City Stories manages to introduce us to several popular characters and makes a lot of fun of things that eventually happen in future installments. Being a port of a PSP game it's not nearly as daring or imaginative as what we saw in 2004's San Andreas, but that shouldn't keep you from having a great time playing through this violent (and often funny) Grand Theft Auto game.
Vice City Stories tells the tale of Vic Vance, brother of Lance Vance (who you may remember from his turn in the original Vice City). After being drummed out of the Army, Vic finds himself running missions in order to make money to support his ailing brother. At first Vic seems completely against the idea of doing any kind of illegal activity, but it doesn't take long before he gives in and spends the rest of the game delivering drugs, running from the police and killing hundreds (if not thousands) of people.
Eventually Lance Vance shows up in Vice City to create some real problems. Together Vic and Lance piss off a bunch of drug lords and other gangster types and are forced to figure out a bunch of creative ways to keep the heat off of them. In your time in Vice City you will meet a number of memorable characters, including an abusive white trash husband, a pre-op transsexual, a whole lot of Cubans, and even Phil Collins. Yes, that Phil Collins.
The game's progression is no different from that of any Grand Theft Auto title; you make your way from mission to mission in a semi-non linear fashion. That's to say, you will occasionally have the choice of which mission you want to do first, ultimately leading you through several different story lines that eventually get wrapped up in a fairly satisfying way. If you've played any of Rockstar Games' recent games you will no doubt recognize what's going on here, this is all standard stuff by now and it's clear that Vice City Stories is not trying to reinvent the franchise.
Rockstar Games is often hailed as one of the few game developers that really understands how to weave an interesting story. While that's definitely true here, early on this game wants you to be a little more trusting than you normally would be. Although Vic starts the game as a new Army recruit, he'll be asked to do some pretty questionable acts. Literally the first thing you do is secure some drugs, kill a bunch of Cubans and pick up a hooker for your superior officer, Sgt. Martinez. All of this seems a little out of place at first, but eventually the story calms down and turns into a traditional Grand Theft Auto plot.
Forget Liberty City, as the days get longer and the temperature goes up there's only one super violent community you need to think about -- Vice City! Vice City Stories doesn't reinvent the Grand Theft Auto formula, but it is a solid port of a fantastic PSP game. With its budget price and great action this game may prove to be too difficult to pass up, even if they didn't do anything special for this console port.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!