Five reasons why GTA Vice City was such a major success

Vice City, the playground of Tommy Vercetti (Image via Rockstar)
Vice City, the playground of Tommy Vercetti (Image via Rockstar)

"Okay, lets take this up to the next level." Rockstar certainly applied Tommy Vercetti's quote to the gameplay design of GTA Vice City.

From the glitz to the ghettos, this game provides open world design with an 1980's approach. Released a year after the revolutionary GTA 3, Vice City was a major success for Rockstar. Despite a few controversial aspects, critics praised it for its playability, improvements over the previous title, and music selection.

Vice City has sold millions of copies since 2002, and it was the best-selling game of that particular year. Several factors contributed to the significant popularity of this game. Vice City was successful because its fans wanted more from Rockstar, and Rockstar was more than happy to deliver a great product.

Five Reasons Why GTA Vice City Succeeded

#5 - It Was Hot Off The Trails Of GTA 3

Where it all started (Image via Rockstar)
Where it all started (Image via Rockstar)

GTA 3 is a landmark title whose significance cannot be overstated. Rockstar made a successful transition from 2D to 3D with the 2001 release of this title. GTA 3 changed the entire landscape for open world games, as it completely redefined the concept of sandbox gameplay. Liberty City was a living and breathing creature.

Rockstar capitalized on their exponential rise in popularity with GTA 3 and Vice City was originally a mission pack for GTA 3. However, the development team made the right decision to release it as a standalone title. One year later with a $5 million budget, Vice City was completed and the rest is history.

Vice City proved once and for all that Rockstar was here to stay. They weren't a one-hit wonder, but a highly successful video game publisher.

#4 - Vice City Was A More Colorful Experience

The afternoon glow of Vice City (Image via Wikipedia)
The afternoon glow of Vice City (Image via Wikipedia)

GTA 3 was dark and gloomy, with sunlight barely shining through the streets. The cold atmosphere also extended to the radio stations and in-game dialog. Rarely was there a serious attempt at laughs.

Vice City is a major departure in this department. The color palette is far more vibrant with beautiful sunsets and clear blue skies. From expensive mansions to brightly-colored sports cars, Vice City is a visually stunning game.

In comparison to the cardboard dialog in GTA 3, there is a vast improvement in Vice City. Humorous characters like Ken Rosenberg, Kent Paul, and Love Fist provide comic relief largely absent in the previous installment.

#3 - The In-Game Engine Saw Major Improvements


Rockstar made a few gameplay adjustments between GTA 3 and Vice City. For starters, players could control their vehicles better. High-speed luxury cars were more common in the streets, so it was important to have good turning and acceleration. Vice City also allowed players to bail from their vehicles while driving, a first in the series.

Storyline missions were more open-ended, although they followed a linear path. Unlike GTA 3, players could not miss out on supporting missions in Vice City. Speaking of the storyline, Rockstar made it easier to emotionally invest in the characters. Claude only did what he was told, while Tommy wanted to take over the city.

#2 - Rockstar Used An All-Star Voice Cast


With the possible exception of San Andreas, no GTA game since Vice City went all-out in the voice acting department. Rockstar put their GTA 3 money to good use by hiring A-list actors to bring the characters to life.

Everybody does a fantastic job with the material they are given, such as Burt Reynolds, Gary Busey, Jenna Jameson, Dennis Hopper, and Danny Trejo. Even minor characters who only show up in one cut-scene did a great job.

Far and away, Ray Liotta is the recognizable voice of Vice City. Tommy Vercetti delivers memorable one liners as he guns down enemies on the streets. Lance Vance is also voiced by Philip Michael Thomas, a nice callback to the 1980's television show "Miami Vice".

#1 - The 80's Inspired Soundtrack Was Legendary

Flash FM (Image via Rockstar)
Flash FM (Image via Rockstar)

The crowning achievement of Vice City is the soundtrack. Millions of players were introduced to the 1980's via one of the greatest musical selections in video game history. Due to the industry connections of the Houser brothers, Vice City brought a varietal mix of legendary tracks from artists like Michael Jackson and Motley Crue.

Before Vice City, mainstream songs were pretty rare in video games. 2002 was the turning point thanks to Vice City. Both small and big-name musicians left behind an enduring legacy with this soundtrack. With the rise of vaporwave, '80s electronic music has only grown more popular in recent years.

Music provides a powerful atmosphere for GTA players. A midnight drive to the Malibu Club was made greater with the song "Sunglasses at Night". Vice City is a melodic testament that stands the test of time.

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

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Edited by david.benjamin
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