You can have multiple radio stations so EVERYBODY can be happy!
These days games with top 40 bands are a dime a dozen ... but few are anything near as populated as Vice City! Your usual game gives you fifteen, maybe twenty songs, usually specific to one or two genres. Look at Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, for example, between punk and rap, there's little variation to speak of. But Vice City gives you SEVEN radio stations with seven genres of music. Everything from the Zapp & Rogers to Hall & Oates, from Megadeth to Blondie, from the Cutting Crew to Two Live Crew, Vice City has hours upon hours upon hours of 80's tunes! 105 '80s tunes in all, with some of the best-known artists, coupled with dozens of one hit wonders. I found myself singing along more than a few times while cruising the city, and it was usually to songs I never thought I would. Oh sure, I figured I'd know the words to the Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star", but "Two Tribes" By Frankie Goes to Hollywood?? All this game needs is a karaoke mode with the lyrics at the bottom so I can sing ALL the songs, not just the ones I'm embarrassed to remember.
Commercials can be excellent fodder for humor!
Perhaps it's because most games come from Japan, or because many programmers don't have a sense of humor, but in countless games jokes about advertising was as painful as a real advert. The norm, it seems, is to simply change a products name, and that should be funny. But Grand Theft Auto has changed all that. Never has a pastry ever been advertised like a porno, never has Ice Cream been linked to losing your virginity, and never before has there been a gun/ammo store in a mall. Without a doubt, Vice City is alive with advertisers targeting the "me" generation. From now on it would be nice for other games to put a little time and effort into their humor, and not just write it in a weekend (like this site).
Pornography is an untapped source of humor!
And who would have known? Outside of moviegoers, fans of porno out takes, and just about every teenage boy! It amazes me that it has taken so long to fully realize pornography as a joke in video games. But then, I'm sure it's not the porno side story that is going to make you buy this, but it doesn't hurt any. These days porn stars are almost as popular as rock stars, and so it certainly makes sense to mine that industry for humor. Vivid Video girl Jenna Jameson is not only a resident of Vice City (she's known as Candy Suxx in the game), but also appears in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. I'm sure given enough time even pornography can be reduced to a lame on-running joke, but for now, let's bask in the enjoyment.
The era you set the game in IS important!
Oh sure, the Shenmue series is set in the 1980s, and there is a massive collection of games set in the future, but if none of them really nail the era like Vice City does. Shenmue offers arcade games, and some funky clothes, but let's face it, not many of us lived in that part of the world when big hair ruled, and cocaine was the drug of choice. Vice City, on the other hand, gives us an era we can easily relate to. Any American gamer over the age of twenty should relate to a good portion of the humor that resides in Vice City. It's not just the music and the outfits, but rather the small touches that make this new Grand Theft Auto feel like the 80's. Be it jokes about the personal computers, or upcoming (and at that time unknown) success of the Compact Disc, or the occasional butt rocker whose hopped up on cocaine, Vice City is the place to be if you're yearning for an '80s revival!
Dennis Hopper is a REALLY great voice actor!
We knew he could act (I mean, who can forget his role as Frank in Blue Velvet?), but I never even considered Dennis Hopper as a voice actor. He's been in games before, including the much hyped, but poorly received Hell, so it's not that much of a stretch to see him as a voice actor. But what I wasn't prepared for was how much "cool" he could bring to a cut scene. As veteran porn director Steve Scott, Dennis Hopper gives the most memorable performance of anybody in Vice City. An even harder task when you consider the cast of characters involves the likes of Burt Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Luis Guizman, and Gary Busey! On a side note, in Boogie Nights Burt Reynolds plays veteran porn director Jack Horner, who sees his share of violence in the 1980s ... it's nice to see the creators of Vice City didn't just use past experience when casting.
Question: Wow, that's a pretty convincing list. But I'm sure the game isn't ALL good. What about some of the things that should be included in the next Grand Theft Auto?
There certainly is a lot to love about Vice City ... but some improvements I wouldn't mind seeing in future titles. For example, I'd love to be able to hop on a street bike (or even a mountain bike) and tour the city slower than a car, but faster than running. In the same vein, how about roller skates? After all, many characters in Vice City already have their own roller skates. I would like to interact with certain environments more. If I have a saw, I should be able to cut down a tree. And if you're going to introduce airplanes, then why not give us a parachute? But of all the things I would like to see, it's playable arcade games in bars, clubs, and the like. If Rockstar Games is going to pay money to license music, then why not a few REALLY old emulations or arcade games? Other than those things, I can't wait to see what else is included in Grand Theft Auto 4.