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Grand Theft Auto (GTA): Vice City The Definitive Edition Review

Leap back to the iconic 1980s in Vice City!

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a 2002 actionadventure game from Rockstar Games, which is now accessible on Netflix Games as part of the GTA: Trilogy Definitive Edition that launched in December 2023. This trilogy lets you relive the iconic GTA games that comprise Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City, and San Andreas. This review focuses on the main storyline and gameplay of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, providing a balanced assessment and making comparisons with other GTA titles.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City features the 1980s criminal underworld

GTA: Vice City follows the story of Tommy Vercetti, a former member of the Forelli crime family. After serving a 15-year prison sentence, Tommy is released and sent to Vice City to establish a drug trade operation for the Forelli family. However, things quickly go awry when a drug deal is ambushed, and Tommy loses both the drugs and the money.

Throughout the game, Tommy seeks to recover the lost money and drugs while navigating the complex criminal underworld of Vice City. Along the way, he forms alliances, makes enemies, and rises to power in the city’s criminal hierarchy. The story is filled with betrayal, revenge, and the pursuit of wealth and power, all set against the backdrop of the vibrant and neon-soaked 1980s Miami-inspired atmosphere of Vice City.

Grand theft auto vice city storyline
Image via Rockstar Games

Having experienced Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, it’s evident that the game’s storyline is a gripping journey through the 1980s criminal underworld. The narrative is rich with twists, turns, and memorable characters.

The vibrant setting of Vice City in the ’80s, complete with iconic music and cultural references, keeps the game’s authenticity to the storytelling. The missions are diverse, ranging from high-stakes heists to intense shootouts, keeping the gameplay engaging and dynamic. Vice City’s narrative, coupled with its nostalgic setting, contributes to its enduring appeal and status as a classic in the Grand Theft Auto series.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Gameplay is great but lacking

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is often praised for its engaging and immersive gameplay set against the backdrop of a meticulously crafted open-world environment. The game, released in 2002, was a significant step forward for the GTA series, building upon the success of its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto III.

While the gameplay mechanics, such as driving, shooting, and exploring the city, were commendable for their time, some critics argue that certain aspects may feel dated compared to more modern titles. The controls, graphics, and mission structures, while groundbreaking in their day, have seen advancements in subsequent games in the series.

Grand theft auto vice city gameplay
Image via Rockstar Games

However, the game compensates for any perceived shortcomings with its compelling narrative, memorable characters, and a good amount of side missions and activities. In the Definitive version of the Netflix mobile game, cheat codes are still available, adding a constant source of fun. Players can engage in a variety of pursuits, including property acquisition, asset management, and various criminal enterprises, contributing to the overall depth of the gameplay.

One notable drawback is the protagonist’s inability to swim, a feature that was introduced in later entries in the series. This restriction can sometimes feel restrictive and counterintuitive, especially in an open-world setting where water is prevalent. Despite the limitations, Vice City remains a time capsule of gaming nostalgia, a testament to the series’ evolution.

Retro-like graphics with old-school music

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City captivates players with its charming retro-like graphics, reminiscent of a bygone era. The pixelated visuals exude a nostalgic charm, transporting players to the vibrant and sun-soaked streets of 1980s Miami. Despite the passage of time, the game’s stylized graphics retain a unique appeal, effectively capturing the essence of the era it seeks to emulate.

Grand theft auto vice city graphics
Image via Rockstar Games

While there are some graphical hiccups like pop-ins and minor issues such as clipping during cutscenes, these shortcomings are easily overshadowed by the game’s more commendable aspects. Notably, the scriptwriters and voice actors steal the spotlight in cutscenes, showcasing rare emotional impact in-game dialogue. Almost every scene in the game manages to deliver an impressive narrative, making these graphical quirks mere blips in an otherwise compelling and engaging experience.

Grand theft auto vice city audio
Image via Rockstar Games

While Grand Theft Auto 3 introduced new music, Vice City took it a step further with a range of radio stations featuring over 100 tunes from the 80s. The soundtrack includes songs from a diverse set of artists like Lionel Richie, Wang Chung, Ozzy Osbourne, and Run DMC, enhancing the gaming experience.

The music proves instrumental in shaping the game’s atmosphere, surpassing what newly commissioned works could achieve. Additionally, the humorous commercials and talk radio segments, are independently entertaining, contribute occasional laughs, and further breathe life into the game world.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Mobile Controls and UI is well-made

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’s mobile adaptation excels in its well-crafted controls and user interface (UI). The transition to mobile platforms seamlessly integrates intuitive controls, allowing players to navigate the bustling streets of Vice City with ease.

Grand theft auto vice city controls
Image via Rockstar Games

The touch-based commands for driving, combat, and exploration are thoughtfully designed, providing a responsive and enjoyable gaming experience. The UI, adapted for smaller screens, remains efficient and user-friendly, ensuring players can effortlessly access essential information and game features.

Comparison with other Grand Theft Auto: Trilogy Games

In the Grand Theft Auto trilogy, where Vice City finds its place alongside 3 and San Andreas, we can position it in the mid-tier, distinctive in its own right. Unlike the sprawling expanses of San Andreas or the pioneering urban landscape of 3, Vice City’s standout feature lies in its iconic retro graphics.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition
Image via Rockstar Games

The pixelated visuals, while not reaching the technical prowess of their counterparts, exude a charming nostalgia, taking us into the neon-soaked world of 1980s Miami. Despite not being the best in size and perhaps scope, Vice City’s allure lies in its unique time capsule, capturing the essence of a bygone era through its vibrant visuals and a soundtrack that stands the test of time.

Final Verdict

From a reviewer’s perspective, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City stands as a timeless testament to the cultural impact and immersive storytelling capabilities of the GTA franchise. The game’s retro graphics, though dated by modern standards, contribute to its nostalgic charm.

The narrative, filled with betrayal, revenge, and memorable characters, remains a high point, delivering an emotionally resonant experience rarely found in gaming. Vice City’s enduring popularity can be attributed to its unique fusion of engaging gameplay, a distinctive setting, and a soundtrack that continues to resonate with players.

It may not be the largest or most complex in the trilogy, but Vice City’s enduring appeal cements its status as a classic that has left an indelible mark on the open-world gaming landscape.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Review by GamingonPhone

Gameplay Mechanics - 8
Storyline - 8.5
Character and Environment Design - 7.5
Graphics and Music - 8
Controls and UI - 8.5



Grand Theft Auto: Vice City stands as a timeless testament to the cultural impact and immersive storytelling capabilities of the GTA franchise. The game's retro graphics, though dated by modern standards, contribute to its nostalgic charm.

That’s all from us for the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Review! Did you find our Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Review helpful? Do let us know in the comments!

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