This game is amazing. You could call it the ultimate driving simulation but that wouldn’t do it justice. You play Tommy a mafia hitman who is trying to find the guys who set him up and stole his bosses money. You have to complete various missions which vary from having to protect someone from another mafia gang to having to blow up a building with a model helicopter. The game is set in the US in a fictitious place called Vice City.
The game is very violent and has an understandably 18 rating. There is a lot of blood. You get to kill people with guns, chainsaws, golf clubs, hammers or just your own fists. You can also run people over. Most times they will get up and walk away but if they die watch out as the police will start chasing you. If you shoot someone in the head blood will pour out of their neck. This is very gruesome.
The city graphics are really good. There is a fully functioning traffic light system and every building is unique. Unfortunately you can’t enter most of the buildings. The character graphics are not so good but compared to everything else this doesn’t seem to matter. Each person in the city has their own personality. They
will even pick fights with other people and will always have something to say to you if you get too close to them. There are lots of nice special effects. Rain appears on your windshield, cars leave skid marks and walking through blood will leave bloody footprints. There are even women of the night who will get into your parked car. Watch out if this happens as your money will disappear fast!
There are hundreds of cars, buses, motorcycles and you can steal all of them. Just walk up to any vehicle and press the triangle button. You throw the driver out and take the car for yourself. Be careful you don’t do this near a cop or they will chase you. If you steal a car with a woman passenger she will sometimes get trapped in the car and keep screaming until you stop. Be careful if you try to steal a taxi that you don’t get in the passenger side as you will actually hire it and will soon run out of money.
Occasionally cars are fitted with an alarm which will sound continuously and attract the police. Sometimes drivers will try to steal their car back from you but most will just run off. Others will report you to the cops.
The game uses blue stars to indicate how much the cops want to catch you. When you have 2 blue stars the police will chase you with cars, when you have 3 stars they will chase you with helicopters. They will set up road blocks, try to run you off the road or just shoot you. As you commit more crimes your wanted level will go up and the police will use more and more force to stop you. If you are ‘busted’ by the cops you will lose lots of money, all your weapons and fail whatever mission you were on. You will then be dumped outside the nearest police station and have to catch a taxi back to the start of the mission.
Driving is very easy. One button for accelerate and another for brake. If you press brake when you are stopped you will reverse. All the cars are automatic so no need to worry about gears. You can also look left and right. The roads are typical US roads so there is usually plenty of room to pass on both sides. You use the left joystick to turn. The thing that makes this better than every other racing game I have played is it really feels like driving a real car. The camera angle can be changed to be behind the car, beside the car or directly through the windscreen. You can see other cars coming from a distance and overtaking feels very natural. In addition you can shoot out of your car window if you want to kill someone beside you.
You have to be fairly careful when driving not to have too many accidents. Every time you crash the car it gets damaged. This is actually visible on the car! Windshields will smash, bonnets will come loose, bumpers will fly off, doors will fly open. After you have crashed it several times the car will start to smoke and will eventually catch fire and explode. It’s a good idea to not be in the car when that happens.
The sound in the game is excellent. There is full speech throughout and cars are fitted with a radio which plays a different music channel depending on the sort of person who was driving it. You can then use the L1 button to change to a channel of your choice. There are a lot of different channels to select from ranging from soul music to rock.
There is a map which shows you important buildings such as shops and the target for the mission. There is also a clever circular radar on the bottom left of the screen which shows you the immediate surrounding area and any important buildings. This is invaluable as it shows you which roads are coming up as well as the general direction to anything important which is off the screen.
There are many important buildings dotted around the city. These include gun shops, hardware stores, clothes shops, a safe house and a pay and spray. This is especially important when the police are chasing you. If you drive into the pay and spray, your car is repainted and the police lose track of you.
When you get out of the car the controls totally change. There are buttons for sprint, shoot, jump and change weapon. When holding a gun you can lock on by pressing the R1 button. It’s a good idea not to be carrying a gun when the police see you or they will immediately start chasing you. Sprint is especially useful, it enables you to run for a short while and is an excellent way to get away from the police.
Overall this game easily earns its place as the number 1 playstation 2 game in the charts. If it was just a driving game it would be incredible but with the missions unbelievable car chases and nail biting excitement this is definitely a game everyone should have.