Review | Grand Theft Auto Vice City – Definitive Edition

Review | Grand Theft Auto Vice City – Definitive Edition

LifeisXbox Grand Theft Auto Vice City: The Definitive Edition Review | Following on from the semi disastrous GTA 3 Definitive Edition review, GTA Vice City has had its turn in trying to set things right in terms of user experience. Whilst all 3 games no doubt play out the same with controls and handling being the same, there are a few noticeable differences that set the trilogy apart. While Grand Theft Auto 3 paved the way for the open-world sandbox genre to flourish, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City took the foundation of its predecessor, fine-tuned it, and dabbed the game into the neon 80s lifestyle of Miami. With memorable characters, a gripping crime story inspired by crime movies like Scarface, and tons of pop culture references, the game introduced an entire generation to the open playing field of craziness made by Rockstar. It’s safe to say that Developer Grove Street Games hasn’t changed much of the formula that made Vice City so great but there are some noticeable changes to the game’s undertones that fans of the original may not appreciate.

*Disclaimer – A lot of the issues and features discussed in GTA 3 is present in Vice City but I have focused on the main differences/features for this game specifically.

“Vice City The Definitive Edition feels like a shadow of its former self.”

ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.

What we liked!

  • A more stable game | Strangely enough Vice City has been the most stable out of all 3 of the games that I have tried from the Definitive Collection. Vice City had a near-constant frame rate (although it did dip into the low 20’s) but nothing I would say or would consider game breaking. I had no crashes as I did in GTA 3 and the overall experience playing Vice City was generally good.
  • Quality of Life Changes | The game features a Weapon and Radio select wheel, so if a player wants to change the song or their gun, they don’t have to manually scroll through each of them anymore. Instead, just hold the weapon/radio wheel button and choose the desired gun or radio station. On top of this, the restart mission screen has been implemented meaning if you die or fail a mission, you no longer have to revert to a previous save to load from. The game creates checkpoints and lets you continue or restart a mission using this method instead, a much welcome change indeed as one of the most frustrating things from the original trilogy was having to load back to a save hours ago because you died or failed a mission. On top of this, some of the more offensive stuff that the game featured back in the original trilogy has been removed which means designers were thinking about this before the launch. For example, the confederate flags have been removed as have some of the more tongue-in-cheek posters and radio conversations.
  • The Graphics | Vice City is very juxta-opposed to GTA 3. Vice City is full of colour and life, and with the ray-tracing bringing the colours out even more, with pink lights, neon signs, lamp lights, clothes, the beach, everything just looks so much more exciting. Out of the three games in The Definitive Edition, Vice City takes the cake for most impressive looking. It’s not all good though, as mentioned in the GTA 3 Definitive Review, Vice City still suffers from horrible character models.
  • Better Controls | The GTA Definitive Edition controls are more akin to the likes of GTA 5 with its better drive-by controls and Weapon selection system. This makes things a lot quicker and snappier in a gunfight and doing drive-by shootouts are now easygoing and very helpful on some of the game’s later missions. Unfortunately, the driving itself isn’t as simple. On top of the GTA 3 controls, we now have motorbikes, which strangely enough compared to the cars, haven’t had their handling messed with. They feel better. Popping wheelies is even easier than in the original and allows for more control.

Somewhere between

  • The Graphics Again? | Similar to GTA 3 Definitive Edition, all the grass foliage, palm trees, buildings, and item textures have been re-done to fit the more modern look these games aim for. But once again, the team ditched the intended art style and art direction the games were going for by making everything look too realistic. It just doesn’t sit well or match with the cartoony plastic-looking character models.
  • The Heavy Weapons | Vice City Definitive Edition does rely on its timed missions a little too much, and a majority of these timed missions rely on the use of heavy weapons. The handling of these weapons has become abysmal, to say the least. Gone are the intricate joystick movements and targeting system and instead, we have a spray and pray mechanic which will result in 90% of your shots being missed unless you are up close and personal. It’s frustrating because the helicopter missions and Speedboat shootouts all rely on this weapon along with the M4 which doesn’t use the new advanced targeting system. Be prepared to die and restart these missions a lot.
  • The Driving | Car handling mechanics have supposedly been improved to bring them in line with modern-day driving games, but it feels quite the opposite. GTA Vice City The Definitive Edition feels like a shadow of its former self. Where driving was responsive and felt great when you managed to swerve out of oncoming traffic. Now cars have a more life-like feel to them with more drift and a shorter braking distance. It’s a new learning curve for something that shouldn’t have been touched or needed to be touched in fact. It feels less like a Rockstar original game and feels like Grove Street Games wanted to make a mark on the game and somehow make the version they wanted. It’s a shame given how much time you spend driving in these games.

What we disliked

  • Less Music | We all know GTA Vice City had the best music throughout the entire PS2 trilogy, but with 22 fewer tracks than before and with GTA 3 seemingly getting all of the new ones, radio stations are somewhat sparse if you like listening to the radio whilst driving. A lot of the missing songs have been replaced by repeat adverts or just repeating the songs over and over. It’s an awful shame as I would have loved to have had something else, even if there were no lyrics. Just some smooth 80’s synth would have sufficed.
  • Buggy Cutscenes | One thing Vice City does differently than GTA 3 did is with its cutscenes. GTA 3 opted for scripted scenes where Vice City’s tend to be more in-game focused and as a result lead to some really weird stuff happening. For example, before taking out Diaz at his mansion I rolled up in an Ambulance which then lead to the ambulance taking over the entire frame of the scene that played out. I couldn’t see a thing. Not only at this point, but pedestrians driving in their cars would constantly run Lance over whilst I am talking to him, and although fun to see, on one occasion it did force me to restart the level because of this.
  • No New Content | It’s sad to say that despite having cut content laying on the design room floor, Vice City isn’t graced with having any of this added. It’s the same Vice City that you know and love from years ago.

How long to beat the story | 20 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 40+ Hours

62% out of 100%

Vice City The Definitive Edition is the best of the three but only marginally. Ultimately it has a better soundtrack and I could easily spend most of my time cruising and listening to the radio stations they created for this game. The story still holds up well compared to GTA 3 and San Andreas coming of age story but my point with this review is that if you are already a fan of these games, you would do better to just play the originals or wait until GTA: The Trilogy goes back on the Rockstar Store now that they have confirmed they are putting them back up on sale. If you are new to the franchise, then you will most likely be disappointed, and again, the $60/£50 asking price is just too much even for three games that are still not fixed. It’s never a good idea to forget that this is 2021 and with a year of botched launches, it makes you wonder if the new normal, and as consumers should we be demanding and expecting more. Although I enjoyed most of my time with Vice City, this is not the Vice City that I remember. is the largest Belgian Xbox centered website, your reading time is greatly appreciated! Please consider sharing this review with your friends on social media, that means a lot for us! If you are Dutch-speaking also consider joining our Dutch exclusive Facebook group Xbox Gamers Belgium. Feel free to use quotes for PR purposes.

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