Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is one of the best games in the highly successful franchise. It’s style, setting, and advances in graphics and gameplay options make it a necessary and fulfilling precursor to modern GTA games. Vice City dropped in 2002 as the fourth game in the series, taking the franchise to the next level.
Miami is a famous Hollywood local for some of the most iconic screen gangsters ever. The setting also invites more variety when it comes to vehicles, chases, and assaults than in previous settings. This game really feels like a movie taking nods from plenty of greats before it.
The missions aren’t your standard ‘kill everyone in the building’ or ‘escape the police via car chase’. The assignments are well thought out, entertaining, and complex. Add to that the humor that the writers inserted amid the chaos, and you have an unforgettable experience. Looking back at the game, it’s easy to pick out a favorite mission from memory, but do you know the top ten? It’s time for a nostalgia trip down memory lane. Here’s the list of the top ten best missions in Vice City.
Runner Up – Death Row
This is a reasonably standard assault mission to rescue Lance. It stands out because you get a vehicle to use, you get to pick how you go about your assault, and the attack is on a junkyard. It’s a very fortified junkyard, but it’s still filled with cars and car parts to use as cover.
The mission feels like a classic hero rescuing a distressed maiden, but this time, your maiden is Lance Vance. To up the urgency and reinforce your will to kill, Kent Paul tells you Lance is being tortured when he gives you the mission. There’s not too much else out of the ordinary here, so the mission doesn’t make the top ten, but it’s still an entertaining classic.
10) Phnom Penh ‘86
GTA is usually all about the balance between efficiency and style. This mission similarly combines the practicality of getting the mission done using sufficient firepower and the overkill of flying in using a chopper. “Eradicate them!” You get the task from Diaz, and then Lance takes you to the island you need to assault in a helicopter.
This mission lets you fly across Vice City and take in the sites before the fun begins. Then you get to blast away as a gunner on an unsuspecting fortress as Lance makes passes. Then, once you’ve stirred up the pot and done some real damage, you get dropped off. The moment you transition from blasting in the chopper to running towards the compound toting some heavy firepower screams GTA. Then, you get to clear out the remnants of the compound before getting whisked away and receiving your reward.
9) Demolition Man
This list wouldn’t be definitively about Vice City without a speed boat chase. In Demolition Man, Ricardo Diaz sends you to be the first one to a load of drugs you must bring back. This mission feels like Mad Max on the water, which is a good thing.
You start with a cutscene featuring Lance (decked out in his Miami Vice outfit of course), lounging in a speed boat and the ’80s classic song “Dance Hall Days” playing in the background. Then you must race other boats through a winding course and do what you must so you’re the first to load. Then, you blast away at the other boats while Lance is your wheelman. It’s a fun mission that certainly belongs in this game.
8) All Hands On Deck
As previously mentioned, not all great missions are related to the story, especially for GTA. Sometimes, you just want to look cool or blow stuff up. This mission from Colonel Cortez charges you with kind of doing both. The Colonel asks you to protect his boat, which seems simple enough until the hordes of his enemies come at you.
This mission lets you stand your ground in a cool location. It forces you to move around the boat and use different tactics to defeat enemies from afar, up close, and overhead. The battle goes on for a while, meaning you’ll have to hunt down health, too, making things more thrilling. It all comes to a head once the helicopter shows up, though, and the explosions continue to increase. Finally, this mission ends with you getting a speed boat, which is always a good gift.
7) Publicity Tour
This mission allows you to live out a couple of iconic fantasies while laughing at its ridiculous dialog. Love Fist, the made-for-GTA ’80s Scottish rock band, needs your help to escape a psycho who’s upset with them. While it’s not Tommy’s usual forte, he takes on the role of Limo driver. Now, suddenly, you get to experience what it’s like to be in the car with an intoxicated and hilarious ’80s rock band. “Shut up, you muppet.”
The fun doesn’t stop there, though. There’s a bomb in the limo planted earlier by the same psycho that will explode if you drive too slow. Now you’re starting to feel like Keanu in Speed, tasked with driving fast until the drunken fools in the back stop fighting long enough to figure out how to disarm the bomb. “That’s not vodka, that’s BOOMSHINE.” The mission is a unique one that basically just provides a little humor break. It’s a good thing you save Love Fist, though, as they still make cameos in GTA games today.
6) Bombs Away
This mission makes the list for its funny and weird factors. Tommy meets with a priestess who drugs him and then sends him on a hypnotized mission. Tommy knows something’s off and feels like he’s in a dream or memory. Then suddenly, he’s enacting the will of a voodoo master like a Hawaiian shirt-wearing zombie.
To take the mission to the next level of wackiness, you fly a small remote-controlled biplane that drops old-school-looking bombs. It’s funny and fun at the same time, but there’s also the challenge of timing everything right. To make things more interesting, you’re not just blowing up stationary targets or somebody standing outside a coffee shop. Flying over the water and bombing ’80s speed boats with a remote control plane is GTA gold.
5) Sir, Yes, Sir!
So you’re early on in the game and don’t have access to much firepower or regenerating health. Sounds like the perfect time to take on the army. While it’s not exactly what you’d expect to be doing in a city-based GTA game, it has a level of ridiculousness and overkill that does. In Sir, Yes Sir! You are tasked by Colonel Cortez with acquiring a tank from the military.
The mission is not easy. You have to overcome multiple setbacks and a lot of opposition while you’re somewhat underpowered. You’ve got to distract the military, get in the tank with a hatch that doesn’t want to open, and then move quickly before it self-destructs with you in it. This mission allows you to be both daring and powerful. It rewards you with a bit of time behind a potent weaponized vehicle. This mission gives you an early taste of the good to come later in the game and franchise.
The final mission in the Malibu Club quests comes from the InterGlobal Studios. This mission is not your typical GTA fare, but at the same time, its ridiculousness and fun factor fit right in with what players have come to expect. Sometimes, a nice break from shooting and killing is what you need to make you love the game more rather than get bored by it.
In this mission, you get to be a movie star who does his own stunts. Tommy’s movie is ready to debut, but to make it a real hit, you’ve got to advertise it. In this case, advertising involves a spotlight and a motorcycle flying through the air. To pull it off, you drive your motorcycle on a long path and jump from rooftop to rooftop until you reach the top of a skyscraper. It’s fun, absurd, and a nice change of pace.
3) Cop Land
In this mission, Tommy and Lance must figure out how to blow up a police-guarded cafe. There’s nothing bolder than doing a guns-blazing drive-by on a police station to get their attention. The exception may be kidnapping two cops and stealing their uniforms to impersonate them. The gutsiest move of this mission, though, is impersonating the officers so you can walk into a mall filled with them on high alert to plant a bomb.
This is another multifaceted mission that’s just fun to pull off. It’s not so much about killing or fighting but sneaking and getting away with it. You get to pull one over on the authorities and make an exciting getaway like something out of The Blue Brothers. Cop Land is a unique and creative mission with Hollywood feels.
2) The Job
Enter one of the most iconic missions in Grand Theft Auto history. The Job is the basis for many missions in future games as it pushes the complexity and fun of what an assignment can be. No, you don’t steal any cars, but you do rob a bank with a crew, with everyone looking like Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th while doing it.
This final mission from the Nightclub has everything you would want in a GTA game. You have funny characters, you’ve got a realistic crime-based objective, you’ve got surprises that make things more complicated, a shootout, and finally, a getaway chase. This mission feels like a movie and is very satisfying to pull off. Plus, you get a huge payoff for your hard work.
1) Keep Your Friends Close
This is the final mission of the game. Many final missions are epic, and so is this dramatic shootout finale. While it may seem like a given that the last mission would make this list, not all final battles are fun. Sometimes, they are all about replaying it repeatedly until you beat it. These usually end with you feeling relieved you don’t have to do that again.
Lance Vance, Tommy’s partner throughout the game’s story, betrays Tommy and sides with the Italian mob. This betrayal is a surprise, and the shock of it helps propel you to really want to kill Lance and come out on top, despite the overwhelming forces attacking. The mission pushes the story forward, feels cinematic, and certainly has nods to the endings of at least one major gangster-themed classic. As a bonus, you get to shoot a bunch of guys who deserve it.