Review: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City iOS makes a glorious, cheap return on the mobile front

It's been ten years since Grand Theft Auto: Vice City came out for the PlayStation 2.  Think about that.  Ten years ago, Rockstar Games redefined open-world action/adventure – again – but this time with an 80's theme that was undeniably loyal.  Hell, Philip Michael Thomas from Miami Vice was in the game.  The experience doesn't go any deeper than that.

Now that same game has been crammed down into a mobile experience, as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is now available for iPad, iPhone and other devices for a meager five bucks.  Unless you're one of those people that just doesn't like to have fun in video games, you have no reason to pass over this.


The game revolves around Tommy Vercetti, lovingly voiced by Ray Liotta, who's merely trying to survive in the underworld of 80's Miami.  He's completing various missions for people left and right while keeping out of harm's way, and, of course, stealing vehicles and getting in a few fistfights along the way.  Your job – essentially, take over the city's criminal element and make it your own.  Obviously not everyone is going to be thrilled with your approach…

Earlier this year, Grand Theft Auto III also came to the mobile market, with mostly strong results.  Vice City somehow tops it in a number of ways, mainly with presentation.  The graphics in this HD transfer are quite remarkable, especially if you've got an iPhone 5 or higher-end iPad, as the textures really pop to life, especially going off into the distance.  The animation is also impressive, even if Tommy does look a little sluggish during melee confrontations.  No matter – he can still get the job done.


And all of the radio stations are intact, complete with classic 80's tracks from a variety of bands (it's weird hearing Talk Talk again) and the DJ's that run them with sweet efficiency and personality.  The voice acting is stellar across the board, as you'll hear everyone from Thomas and Liotta to the likes of Burt Reynolds and Dennis Hopper.  It's surreal, and they really lend a lot to their characters.

But, really, it all comes down to gameplay, and Vice City has a little bit more to offer than GTA III did, surprisingly enough.  The controls are touch-screen, so you've got a little bit of adjusting to do when you first start it up.  However, after just a couple of missions, you'll become quite comfortable with them, especially as you get into high speed pursuits with the police and beat some thugs down relentlessly with a bat.  We prefer an old-school controller, but this is hardly an unlikable control set-up.


And for five bucks, Vice City will keep you VERY busy.  Along with various missions to complete around the city and places to buy up for your own, you'll also have fun tracking down hidden packages and getting into all sorts of trouble, even if you're just hopping into a car and mowing down pedestrians.  (There could be more of them running around the city in the game – the body count is slightly lower here – but overall it's still fun.)

If you haven't experienced Vice City yet, you won't find a better opportunity to do so.  And even if you have, this walk (or rather, trample) down memory lane is worth revisiting.  Now let's see how the forthcoming San Andreas port fares…we'll bet it's the best one of all.