Rockstar's GTA series of games is pretty famous –and that is not surprising. The series offers players a huge amount of freedom to go all over the map, cause some destruction, and then pick up a story related mission whenever they want. The general formula has not changed over the years –even the newer GTAV shares the same gameplay pattern. What has changed are the details, graphics, better controls, more car varieties, and so forth. Bringing back an older GTA title like Vice City to the mobile is an impressive thing especially for those who appreciate the nostalgia. But if you got introduced to GTA with the HD era games (IV and V), expect to be a little bit disappointed.
What is GTA Vice City?
Vice City is basically GTA's version of Miami (the name is a play on the show, Miami Vice). What makes it even more interesting is that aside from the fact that it is located in a unique area outside of Liberty City and Los Santos, it is also a prequel story set in the past (or what is basically GTA's equivalent of the 80's). Big hair, tucked in shirts, popped collars, aviator shades, you name it, this game has it. Even the soundtrack is a mix tape of the era, and the mobile version has every single one.
The story revolves around Tommy Vercetti, the same protagonist of GTAIII. Back then, most people who played Vice City had already played GTAIII, so it was an interesting hook that drew in the fans who wanted to know more about the character (since GTAIII opens with Tony busting out of a prison transport). Of course, the mobile release has none of that, so it feels like a completely new story. While this should not really matter, the lack of context for players does make the overall feel of Vice City quite different.
Sharper Screen, Same Software
This is not an HD remake of an old game, so don't expect better models, new textures or even better lighting effects. But the visuals has been upscaled to be compatible with higher resolution screens. The effect is that the lines look a little sharper and clearer –which is a good and bad thing. It all looks a little neater than it was before, but at the same time, the glaring visual issues are now more noticeable.
Use a Controller
GTA Vice City is a game that was developed with the intention of being used with a controller, and you will need it. While the developers have been nice enough to add new features to help touch screen players compensate (there is now a very user-friendly auto-aim feature that makes the combat very easy to deal with), it still feels more natural to have buttons. And even then, the actual game response to input does not feel as sharp as with the original versions.
Simple driving is easy enough even on the touch screen, but if you want to do some fancy powersliding, you will need a lot of practice. That's a little sad, since GTA is mostly, a driving game. You hop into a car (which is often not yours), then drive around the city. Making the shooting mechanics simpler makes sense –while still part of the game, they feel like a side thing. It would have been nice if the controls were given more though in regards to driving.
For the Fans
Vice City Mobile is easy enough to enjoy and love if you have already played GTAIII before. The best part of Grand Theft Auto Vice City are the moments when you see how certain characters become who they are in Liberty City, and Tommy Vercetti's rise through the ranks of organized crime makes for a pretty great action story. On the other hand, if you are simply hoping to bring the GTAV experience to your mobile, this is not the answer. Vice City is a lot less than a watered down version of the current generation titles, it's practically bare bones.