The beta map found in Sunshine Autos showcases a lot of interesting differences between it and the final map used in GTA Vice City.
Rockstar Games is notoriously stingy when it comes to sharing beta content with the public. The most common way they do it is when they do so in-game, like with the Sunshine Autos example above. A beta map doesn't seem too useful on paper, but there are some crucial things to note.
Having access to a beta map gives GTA Vice City players an idea of what the game could've looked like originally. These are not just minor changes; there are some significant modifications between the beta and final maps in GTA Vice City.
Five major differences between GTA Vice City's final and beta maps
5) The beta map didn't showcase alleys
GTA Vice City's beta map did not have the small gray lines that represent the alleys in the final version. It's possible there were alleys, but it wasn't included for whatever reason. It's also possible that there were just buildings everywhere, and the alleys were added to make navigation easier for the player.
While the beta map looks cleaner as a result, it also makes it look more boring. This feature is present on the entire beta map, as players can see at the top of this article.
4) The final version of GTA Vice City added the lighthouse
The previous entry also showcases how there was no lighthouse in the beta version of GTA Vice City. It lacked the other rock formations in that general area, which also meant that the beta map was smaller.
Like with some later additions to the GTA Vice City map, the lighthouse is largely useless. There is a Hidden Package here, but the pier around it only serves to see pedestrians fall to their watery graves.
3) The bridge above Starfish Island was curved in the beta map
Vice City is based on Miami. Unsurprisingly, much of its architecture and geography resembles the real-life location. The MacArthur Causeway seems to be the main inspiration for the awkwardly curved bridge that connects the Leaf Links Golf Club to Little Haiti in the beta map.
In the final version of GTA Vice City, this bridge is largely straight and is otherwise forgettable. It's not a particularly useful bridge in GTA Vice City, so changing its design is a rather odd choice if it was for a reason other than simplicity.
2) No Fort Baxter Air Base, but the airport was bigger in the beta
The Escobar International Airport is one of GTA Vice City's largest areas. There isn't much to do here other than collect numerous Hidden Packages. It doesn't help that the Dodo is the only plane in GTA Vice City, which is useless on land.
Surprisingly, the map indicates that the airport was even bigger in the beta version (mostly on the northern side). There was also a straight runway in the beta, rather than the unrealistic curved one seen in the final version.
1) There was no Hyman Memorial Stadium in the beta
One of the most glaring omissions between the beta and final release is the lack of the Hyman Memorial Stadium in the former. It looks completely tacked on in the final version, especially since the beta map looks cleaner in that area.
On a side note, the beta map lacked the beach south of the Hyman Memorial Stadium. It's not particularly useful in the final version of GTA Vice City, but it's still a notable difference.
Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.