Although it doesn't play a major role in the game, it's worth mentioning that Rockstar decided to add the bicycle made famous in San Andreas. I didn't notice it until late into the game, but after I located my first bike I ended up ripping through the town in a way that seemed more personal than before.
It wouldn't be a Grand Theft Auto game without a great set of radio stations to choose from, and Vice City Stories definitely doesn't disappoint. If you're one of the millions of gamers who played Liberty City Stories last year then chances are you noticed that the soundtrack was not up to snuff. It's not that the music was bad, but given its 1990s setting most people were hoping for some big name bands, perhaps a Nirvana, Metallica, Pearl Jam or something. Instead we got a bunch of no-name artists cluttering up the airwaves.
This time around Rockstar decided to go all out and give us some real 1980s tunes to listen to. Vice City Stories manages to pack in more than a hundred songs from the decade that brought us big hair, tight fitting pants and sexually confused men. The music is split up into nine different radio stations, from your rock to your new wave to your rap. You'll be driving around the city listening to selections from Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, INSX, Hall & Oates, 10CC, Eddie Money, Run DMC, Rick James, Barry White, Blondie, New Order, Human League and dozens more. And if that's not enough, Vice City Stories even continues the tradition of including a hilarious talk radio station full of jokes about the era. Sadly you can't add your own favorite music into the game like you could with the PSP version, but there's enough solid music here to where you probably won't need to.
The great audio doesn't end with the music; you will also find that the voice acting is top notch. While Liberty City Stories didn't feature a lot of recognizable names, this time around we actually have a few voices you might know. The most obvious character would be Phillip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice) who reprises his Lance Vance role. Also included are Gary Busey (The Buddy Holly Story), Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights) and Phil Collins as himself.
Phil Collins may seem like a strange choice at first, but given the context of the story it makes complete sense. While he won't be giving out orders, you will have to drive and protect Phil Collins as he attempts to play a sold out concert in Vice City. These moments with Phil Collins are among the most inspired in the entire game. There's a moment towards the end of the game where you actually get to help Phil put on a show that is easily one of the greatest moments in Grand Theft Auto history. The moments with the ex-Genesis leader are almost worth the price of admission alone. You can tell he had a lot of fun playing a fictional version of himself from nearly 25 years ago, and Rockstar even managed to get three different Phil Collins songs on the soundtrack.
Like the PlayStation 2 port of Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories doesn't offer any of the multiplayer games. For the most part this isn't a bad thing (most of the multiplayer stuff in the PSP game was bordering on useless), but it would have been nice if they could have added something to this game, even if it's just one on one action. That's really the biggest problem with the game, as a PSP game it felt fresh and new, but as a PlayStation 2 game it feels more like a big step backwards. San Andreas had so many good ideas that it's hard to go back to this game on a home console. That's not to say that this isn't a solid action game, but it's painfully clear that it was intended for a handheld system and ported (albeit successfully) to a home console at a budget price. Had they spent more time with it they could have improved on the game and added something new, but that wasn't the idea, they just wanted to get it out there to make a few extra bucks off of this newest Grand Theft Auto game.
The good news is that people who don't own the PSP will now have a chance to experience a brand new Grand Theft Auto game, even if it is set in a location they are likely already familiar with. While the story isn't nearly as good as the rest of the games in the series and it will likely feel like a step backwards for those who loved San Andreas, Vice City Stories may be able to stamp down your excitement for the upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV for at least a few hours. At $20 it's hard to pass up, but if you're one of the many that already own the game for the PSP then there's no reason for you to buy this game again. For me I think I'm going to stick with the portable version.
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!