GTA Vice City and Vice City Stories compare to one another favorably in terms of a high-quality overall package.
It isn't easy to compare two incredible games, especially when they're so similar. Sure, one game came out after the other, but both games' location is still Vice City. There are plenty of similarities in characters, vehicles, music, and graphics. The significant differences lie in how both focus on these aspects.
Quality is often seen as a subjective trait. Ergo, those comparing the two games have to consider the general consensus that players have of the two games (assuming they played Vice City Stories, as it's not uncommon for players to only play GTA Vice City).
Of course, even if one game is considered better than the other, that doesn't mean that the second title is bad.
Comparing GTA Vice City to Vice City Stories
Both games are simply amazing. Fans of the GTA series should remember their first time playing it, while newer fans would love the unique game experience that both can provide. In terms of overall quality, both GTA Vice City and Vice City Stories should be considered high-quality.
The differences between the two games aren't so prominent that one game completely overshadows the other. Instead, several categories will be compared to see what one side does notably better than the other.
The map itself isn't that different between the two games, so it shouldn't be surprising to fans to see the two seem so similar despite their differences.
#1 - Characters
Character goes a long way in piquing a person's interest. Just as it is in dating, characterization helps endear players to certain characters in video games.
GTA Vice City is renowned for its engaging characters and its outstanding moments. Vice City Stories is more realistic in its characterization, but some players might find it less memorable.
Naturally, both games share plenty of characters (Lance Vance, Ricardo Diaz, Phil Cassidy, etc.), but there are some distinct differences in their portrayals.
Victor Vance, for example, is significantly more fleshed out in Vice City Stories. As far as unique characters go, GTA Vice City has the more memorable cast and a generally more praised voice cast.
#2 - Gameplay
Gameplay is one of the essential aspects of any video game. For some fans, it's the single most crucial aspect. As Vice Cities Stories came out after GTA Vice City, it shouldn't be a surprise to see it improve upon the original's gameplay. It even allows Victor to swim, which helps a player feel more immersed with the beach setting within Vice City.
Aside from minor improvements, Vice City Stories also introduces businesses for the player to operate and protect. In GTA Vice City, if the player purchased The Malibu Club, it would stay theirs forever.
In Vice City Stories, players have to make gang wars to acquire turf and protect it from other scheming gangs (although some find the latter aspect rather annoying).
#3 - Story
In terms of originality, Vice City Stories surpasses GTA Vice City. Both have good stories, but the latter seems a little too intertwined with "Scarface," which hurts its overall perception.
Vice City Stories' storyline and characterization have drawn comparisons to GTA 4, which is tremendous praise as that game is often seen as the high point of GTA storylines.
Vice City Stories takes place two years before the events in GTA Vice City, helping set up the stage for the latter's story. Some differences aren't relevant to the later game's plot, such as Vice City Stories involving Victor Vance trying to save up money for his brother's treatment (Pete Vance is sickly and needs treatment).
In terms of sheer quality, Vice Cities Story is often seen as superior for its more unique twist on a character's arc through the vices of a drug empire.
#4 - Music
Musical taste is subjective. Some people love pizza; others love spaghetti. Just as somebody may enjoy both or prefer only one, a person might also enjoy a soundtrack of one game over its contemporary.
In this example, it's comparing the similar yet different soundtracks within GTA Vice City and Vice City Stories.
Many of the genres are shared between the two games, with some artists showing up in both (Foreigner, Toto, A Flock of Seagulls, etc.). No song is repeated between the two games, so players can freshly experience both GTA titles.
Objectively speaking, both titles host terrific soundtracks. From a subjective standpoint, it's challenging to rank which one is of higher quality. GTA Vice City typically ranks higher from an audience's perspective than Vice City Stories, albeit barely.
Disclaimer: This list reflects the writer's personal views.