|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rockstar North||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Rockstar||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Mike||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Mike Chasselwaite
Vice City Stories really doesnt take any chances. Its holds fast to the GTA formula which although is open-ended, really has a definite structure to it. There are lots of side-missions to make it feel as though you have total freedom of choice but if you want to complete the game you will have to follow a linear path, albeit one thats somewhat convoluted. Some of the side missions are redundant but then again so is working in a factory. These missions may be necessary to build up capital from which you can launch more extensive illegal activities. Even though Vice City Stories may lack some innovation this is a GTA title and easily the best ever for the handheld market.
In Vice City Stories you can walk, run, gun, swim, fight, drive, fly and pursue a slew of activities from repossessing vehicles to murdering gang members. Missions can be accepted or rejected, so there is some sense of freewill but to complete the game you will have certain ultimate objectives that must be met - the most important of which is pleasing your boss. These are offers that you cant refuse. The story is not very compelling. Its a blend of every GTA game thus far. It takes place a few years before the PS2 version. Its the early 80s and the city is booming. Construction is everywhere and the opportunity to cash in has brought a lot of the underground element to Vice City. Gangs, drugs, weapons, heists and prostitution play a huge role in the development of Vice City.
As Vic Vance you play a reluctant outlaw that is well equipped for the missions due to his extensive military background. He vows to take on these missions make something of himself and to help out his dysfunctional family. What never really made clear is Vics commitment to the evil deeds that he had chosen to undertake. All throughout the game Vic maintains that he detests the path he has chosen but the story glosses over his internal fight between good and evil. It seems to me that he should at least be seduced by the dark side; its lure of glamour, fame and fast fortunes. If Im doing something bad, I want to at least enjoy it and not have some goody-two-shoes character willing to go along for the ride but refusing to split the fare.
Despite the absence of dual analog sticks the control system on the PSP is excellent. In this game you get to drive a chopper around in the skies. Youll have to use both hands and perform some fancy digit dexterity to operate this thing since youll have to move it left to right, up and down, forwards, backwards and hover position. It will take some time to get used to but its nowhere as near as difficult as a flight sim. Other modes of transportation include cars, trucks, bikes and boats, all of which are responsive and exceptionally fun to drive. The city is huge and incredibly detailed, compared to Liberty City, so it lends itself perfectly for exploring. At the end of failed missions you can opt for a taxi ride back to your starting point. This quick trip feature saves time while still maintaining continuity and sustaining reality instead of having your characters magically reappear at the beginning of the mission. With money accumulated you can also buy back your weapons and tools from the police in the form of a bribe. It keeps things moving.
You will still be able to run around with pistols and your Uzi but other weapons such as the rifles will require you to stand in one position. You will have several melee weapons that will come in handy for one-on-one fights but youll have to access them quickly because if an enemy gets in too close to your character you wont be able to fire a gun. The guns have an auto-targeting feature that works great but you have to be some distance away for it to work properly. It doesnt target civilians as much as it did in the last game.