5 major differences between GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas

Carl Johnson and Tommy Vercetti (Image via Steam Community)
Carl Johnson and Tommy Vercetti (Image via Steam Community)

GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas are beloved games in the GTA series.

Both games are set in completely different environments. Vice City is the personification of 80s coke-fueled craziness, while Los Santos deals with the depressing crack-addled streets full of drug addicts. The former game is a tropical paradise with summer heat, while the latter provides three distinct regions.

Physical appearances aside, Vice City and San Andreas both retain the high-quality gameplay Rockstar Games are known for.

For all intents and purposes, San Andreas made useful improvements to the overall GTA experience, given it was released two years after Vice City.

How are GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas different from one another?

#5 - Map regions to explore


The original Vice City map was comparatively small, slightly more so than a single region within San Andreas. The map is split into two major islands with a few smaller ones in between. However, there isn't as much to explore.

San Andreas, on the other hand, has three distinct cities - Los Santos, San Fierro, and Las Venturas. From the countryside to a desert wasteland, there are regional varieties for each location. There are also different skylines, such as a bright purple one for Las Venturas and a foggy blue one for San Fierro. Every single area has a personality.

The versatility in GTA map design allows San Andreas to be heavily modded. GTA players can use these locations to their advantage, depending on what kind of story they want to tell. One example is a zombie infestation in the rainy atmosphere of San Fierro or hunting down Bigfoot in the woods of Whetstone.

#4 - Ability to date


GTA Vice City's Tommy Vercetti is rarely interested in female companionship. This is most evident in his interactions with Mercedes Cortez. While Cortez is clearly interested in him and makes constant advances, Vercetti is more concerned with his daily drug operation.

GTA San Andreas' CJ, on the other hand, is a ladies man. The game allows players to date up to six girlfriends. Once CJ raises the relationship level to a certain point, he will receive useful rewards. These include getting out of the hospital for free and keeping weapons and armor after arrests.

#3 - Weapon selection

Vice City gave players a selection of hardware weaponry (Image via GTA Wiki)
Vice City gave players a selection of hardware weaponry (Image via GTA Wiki)

The weapons system in GTA Vice City is greatly expanded from GTA 3, with a total of 35 instruments of death. Only select weapons have an auto-aim feature. The game has the largest assortment of melee weapons in the GTA series (at least until GTA 5).

Through hardware stores and random pickup locations, Vercetti can wield a hammer, screwdriver, and meat cleaver. This is useful in one particular mission, Jury Fury, where Vercetti has to intimidate witnesses.

By comparison, GTA San Andreas has 38 weapons in total, along with consumable items. However, the auto-aim feature is a vast improvement in gameplay. There are also weapon skills for each class, which allows for more accurate shots at higher levels. CJ can also use parachutes and night vision goggles.

#2 - Swimming mechanics


Despite the beach setting and clear viewpoint of the ocean, Tommy Vercetti cannot swim to save his life. This makes navigating through ports tricky since one wrong step can result in a deadly splash. Stealing boats can also be a pain.

CJ is the first GTA protagonist in the GTA series with the ability to swim. Although he doesn't have good childhood memories of the sport, players can appreciate being able to avoid cheap deaths out of nowhere. No longer a lethal obstacle, CJ can dive underwater to train his lung capacity. However, players do have to be careful not to drown.

#1 - Riot mode


A GTA feature that is unique to San Andreas is the riot mode. In the final stages of the game, the acquittal of corrupt officer Frank Tenpenny provokes outrage among Los Santos citizens. They proceed to burn down the entire city until the player completes End of the Line, the final storyline mission in the game.

Random pedestrians can be seen running down the street, stealing television sets and picking fights. Carjackings are much more common now, so players have to be extra cautious. Even worse, cars now catch on fire and explode. Unlike the events of GTA Vice City, Los Santos has lost complete control of itself.

Players can also activate a cheat code to enable riot mode. However, they should be careful not to do this until they complete the Madd Dogg mission due to a game-breaking glitch. They should only activate the cheat afterwards.

Note: This article solely reflects the writer's personal views.

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