The 80’s meant pink neon, sunshine, shorts that were far too short and cell phones the size building blocks. It meant the Cold War remained cold while the East coast of the USA was drenched in sunshine.
GTA Vice City is the latest release from Rockstar for Android – an exact port of the 2002 bestseller. Unfortunately it was pulled from the Play Store almost instantly after its release in December because of an issue. It simply wouldn’t download for most people and refused to work for those that did manage a download.
Finally however, Android users can download the game for $4.99. Be prepared however, the file is huge. Almost 1.5 GB. Do not download it over your data connection – WiFi is your friend.
The average person with a smartphone is in their 20s. This is particularly of smartphone power users. So chances are most of us have already played the original for PS2 or the original XBOX. Instantly the memories came flooding back as the game started up and the open cut scene dialogue slated our protagonist Tommy Vercetti.
The controls are exactly the same as in GTAIII for Android. While driving at the bottom left of the screen there are directional buttons and the right thumb is used to brake and accelerate. From here the horn can also be activated and an Uzi shot (if equipped). Tilting your phone also steers.
Unfortunately the exit car button and the handbrake button are very close. In the heat of cop chases I was ‘Busted’ a few times by accidentally exiting my car. That said, Android users who really love their games are in luck as controller support is available on the Android version for those of us who bought a third-party gaming controller. iPhone users will have to do without.
On foot the left thumb moves Tomy while the right thumb fires weapons or changes them. I was disappointed that Rockstar didn’t change the camera and aiming system for this port. It’s easy (tap to shoot) but very clumsy and not good in shootouts where you need to be putting out as many bullets as possible.
The original game’s graphics were hailed not only for being great in themselves but highly artistic. The pastel colours, bright blues and stunning scenery fit the 80s setting so well. Time has since moved on and so has Rockstar.
For this port they’ve given the game a new lease of life by texturing the world and objects. The general improvement in the capability of the devices means the world itself is more highly refined with smoother actions and greater levels of details noticeable in areas such as a cars engine or the movement of trees.
That said, not all devices are supported. My Galaxy Tab 2 wouldn’t run the game. Check your phone against the Playstore list and comments before buying. Refunds are of course available anyways.
The storyline was much improved in comparison to GTAIII. You play Tommy Vercetti, a mob crook just released from prison in Liberty City. Only you’re not such a hot shot there any more so you’re dispatched to VC so the mob can gain control over the valuable cocaine market from the Cubans, Mexicans and Haitians. Things quickly go wrong and you’re left with a massive debt owed to your bosses. It’s up to you to steal turf from rival gangs and stake your claim in VC.
The game had one of the most memorable soundtracks in videogame history; cult classics from the 80s such as Michael Jackson give it an authentic feel and others lending the game a Scarface aura such as ‘Push it to the Limit’.
The characters are extremely entertaining and are seen to partake more in the Vice City lifestyle and be ‘around town’ than in GTAIII. The voice acting in cut scenes is amazing. This combined with a better plot line delivers awesome missions which, even on the relatively small screen of my Google Nexus phone, kept me entertained for hours.
The addition of motorcycles and new (and better) weapons make intimidating bosses and collecting debts a load of fun. Nothing gears you up for a mission quite as much as being handed a chainsaw as the ‘tool for the job’.
Trying to clear the game outright is missing the whole point of existing in a sandbox universe however. The city is crying out for exploration. Plus there’s tonnes of things to keep you busy such as cop chases, stunts and robberies to turning over a new leaf and punching a guy that’s running from the police for a citizens reward. Oh, and golf carts. They’re a blast.
To really enjoy this game you have to look beyond the obvious fact that it’s a console port. Yes it can be clumsy. Yes it can be frustrating. But this game drags you into an immersive world of crime, sex, drugs and pop music.
Today’s Android developers simply don’t have the budget Rockstar did for Vice City so as the trusty Ammunation guy says – “Take it. Hold it. Love it”.