GTA Vice City and San Andreas are two games that will be remembered long after several of their contemporaries have been forgotten.
Neither game is perfect, but they are timeless classics that have endless replayability. The most noteworthy drawback of both games is their outdated graphics, but everything else is passable to outright excellence.
These two games just won't be fondly remembered for being excellent GTA games, but they'll be etched into the fabric of video game history for years to come.
As it is with all forms of entertainment, one's enjoyment of these two video games is subjective. Some people are bound to hate it, some are bound to love it, and others are indifferent.
Regardless of one's subjective takes on the matter, it is impossible to deny how important the two games were for their time. It's not an uncommon sight for somebody to proclaim either game as their favorite GTA title, as there are valid reasons for why these two titles are held up well, even today.
GTA Vice City and San Andreas have aged better than other games from that period
To understand why GTA Vice City and San Andreas are remembered fondly, it is important to understand the significance of the two games in their own time.
Neither game was a cult classic. They were instant hits that were considered mainstream for their time. However, unlike GTA III, both games held up better by modern video game conventions.
The great aspects of GTA Vice City and San Andreas
GTA Vice City and San Andreas were two separate games that both accomplished similar feats.
Both were critically acclaimed and were financially successful. A memorable storyline, lovable characters, solid gameplay, top-tier music, and excellent voice acting were just some of the qualities that made the two games feel legendary.
This isn't to say later GTA games aren't great. That would be incorrect. In fact, games like GTA 4 and 5 are up there with GTA Vice City and San Andreas as terrific games. There's even a case to be made for more underrated titles like GTA Chinatown Wars being held in the same esteem.
The most undeniable aspect of these GTA games is their great audio. The voice actors are terrific and prolific, which in turn makes people appreciate the characters more.
The music chosen for the radio stations is usually highly successful, which means there is a demand by people to hear it. Even general radio chatter is often catchy and memorable.
GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas's legacy
While GTA San Andreas is more likely to be remembered as the better game, GTA Vice City will still be remembered as a great title. However, it is important to compare them to other games at the time.
A game like Hitman: Silent Assassin is a great game on its own, and it was also released around the same time as GTA Vice City. However, it doesn't hold up because of an archaic gameplay system, making it more of a niche choice for gamers.
Not to mention the lively GTA maps.
Sure, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas have more arcade-esque controls than modern GTA titles, but that doesn't mean that it's inferior. Other games released around the same time also had similar controls, except in a more archaic manner.
That's not even mentioning the games that came out around the same time and were hated even back then.
Naturally, the only thing left to compare is for the other traits both games had. Considering the GTA franchise is one of the largest video game series globally, it is a lot easier to go back to these two games.
Compare that to a dead video game series, and that can easily affect one's perception.
The parts about the two games that have aged poorly
Generally speaking, the graphics are easily the most outdated of the two titles. While mods exist to alleviate the severity of this problem, it is still an outside influence most casual gamers might not use.
The only other major obstacle for modern games is the gameplay of the two games.
The gameplay isn't bad, but it lacks the fluidity of modern games. This makes GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas feel less responsive than desirable. A player can quickly get used to it if they spend time playing it, but it is still worth noting.
Of course, a lot of their contemporaries aged even worse than these two games did. It's easy for a game like GTA Vice City or GTA San Andreas to stand out when the quality of games tends to be below average by modern standards.
The cream will rise to the top, and that's what GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas did.