A handheld spin-off from the infamous Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, this one made by Rockstar Leeds (in association with Rockstar North), and published on the PlayStation Portable in 2006.
I have to admit to not being a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, even though it does have a special place in my heart (because I visited the developers when they were making the very first one and had a great time). I just find the whole characterisation of the modern GTA games to be too… socially suspect to be likeable. But that’s just me. Millions of people love these games and they are probably at the very top of the “crime simulator” tree, when it comes to gaming.
In this game you play a guy (Vic) who is at the mercy of his stupid army Sergeant, Jerry Martinez, an unlikable drug-smuggling pig who keeps sending you out on ever more dangerous (and stupid) missions, usually to pick something up, drop something off, rescue or rough someone up. I say “stupid” because the story and dialogue are exactly that… dumb. The game goes out to shock, but really is pretty puerile overall.
What makes the modern GTA games so good – and what makes this game so good – are the vehicular hijinks in an open world environment. Driving around (riding, if you’re on a motorbike) a big, living, breathing 3D city is so much fun. Whether you’re playing the game properly, or just wanting to run amok for an hour.
For those willing to put the hours in there’s a feature new to the series called “Empire-Building” and it’s all about building – yes, you guessed it – an empire of crime… by setting up and operating as many illicit businesses as possible.
There’s also an overhauled hand-to-hand combat system, which allows the player to grapple with and throw hostile opponents, and also stand on them if they are on the ground! Plus – if you’re caught – you can now bribe police or hospital staff to keep weapons that otherwise might have been confiscated.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories was so successful on the PSP that it was later converted to the PlayStation 2.