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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Adult action video game offers musical bonus

By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service

 •  'Grand Theft Auto: Vice City'

Platform: PlayStation 2

Genre: Action adventure

Developer: Rockstar North

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Price: $49.99

Rated: "M" for Mature

Web Site: rockstargames.com

Score: 4.5 out of 5

The 1980s — complete with tacky linen suits, Hall & Oates tunes and "Miami Vice" videos — set the scene for the latest title from Rockstar Games.

"Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" is the controversial and much-hyped sequel to "Grand Theft Auto III," the best-selling video game of 2001.

"Vice City" takes place in a Miami-esque cesspool of organized crime known as "Vice City," where players assume the role of an up-and-coming thug, Tommy Vercetti (voiced by actor Ray Liotta), who sets out to recover stolen cocaine and money following a dope deal gone bad.

The third-person perspective game play involves taking on assignments by car or on foot (ideal for raising cash and making connections in the underworld), hijacking cars and motorcycles, edging out rival gangs and eventually taking control of Vice City.

Rated 'Mature'

"Vice City" is rated "mature" (17 and older), and with good reason — players can engage in a number of morally and legally reprehensible acts such as shooting at cops, robbing stores, starting riots or beating up pedestrians.

Like past "Grand Theft Auto" titles, "Vice City" features radio stations to toggle through while driving, which is a big part of the game. More than 90 licensed songs, which add up to about nine hours of music, range from familiar '80s metal (Judas Priest's "You Got Another Thing Coming") to pop (Laura Branigan's "Self Control") to New Wave (Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran"). Music lovers with a penchant for this decade can even play the tunes in a jukebox format outside the game. The music also is probably worth the game's $50 price tag.

"Vice City" offers a few improvements over its predecessors. New features include more weapons (with a new targeting system), new vehicles (120 in total, such as '80s sports cars, motorcycles, boats and aircraft), better artificial intelligence and the ability to enter buildings. In addition, Vice City is bigger than Liberty City, featured in earlier titles, so there's more room to drive.

Addictive adventure

After playing "Vice City" for a few hours, it's easy to see why this game is so popular (many retailers say they can't keep it on store shelves).

Controversial content aside, "Vice City" provides a perfect balance between an open-ended adventure that rewards players for exploring their environment while also giving them goals to complete the game. Few titles strike this balance so nicely.

What's more, the catchy songs, cinematic visuals and intuitive control also make "Vice City" perfect for music lovers, film fanatics as well as serious gamers.

Bottom line: PlayStation 2 owners old enough to purchase (and appreciate) this mature title won't be disappointed. "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" is a "must have" single-player adventure for adult gamers.