Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
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Grand Theft Auto: Vice City US box art

Developer(s) Rockstar North (PS2, PC); Rockstar Vienna (Xbox)
Publisher(s) Rockstar Games
Release date(s) PS2: September 2002, PC: May 2003, Xbox: November 2003
Genre Action
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: Mature (M), BBFC: 18+
Platform(s) PlayStation 2, PC, Xbox

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (released in October 2002) is the fourth video game in the hit Grand Theft Auto series. It is a Rockstar Games production, available for the PlayStation 2 video game console, Xbox video game console, and PC. It uses the same game-engine as its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto III, and similarly presents a huge cityscape, fully populated with buildings (from hovels to skyscrapers), vehicles (cars, bikes, boats, and planes) and people. GTA: Vice City was the best selling video game of 2002.



View from a plane, PC version
View from a plane, PC version
The game is set in the fictional Vice City which is based on Miami, Florida. The game's look, particularly the clothing and vehicles, reflect (and sometimes gently parody) its 1986 setting. In contrast to the gritty urbanism of GTA 3, Vice City is (mostly) clean and classy, with golden beaches, waving palm trees, and beautiful purple sunsets.

Vice City is a loose prequel to the preceding game in the series, Grand Theft Auto 3, which took place in the present day at the time of its 2001 release. Although the main character is not the same as the one in Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City contains a few characters from GTA 3 at an earlier point in their lives. Donald Love, a business tycoon in GTA 3, makes an appearance as an apprentice to real-estate mogul Avery Carrington. Lazlow, the host of the talk radio station in GTA 3, is the DJ for the hard-rock station in Vice City. Toni, the female DJ of the 80's music radio station in GTA 3 also appears as a DJ in Vice City's pop music station. Finally, Fernando, a self-glorifying procurer of women ("not a pimp... a savior" he claims) who appeared on Lazlow's show in GTA 3, runs the Emotion radio station.

The player takes the role of Tommy Vercetti, who has recently been released from prison in Liberty City. While attempting to re-establish himself within the mafia, local boss Sonny Forelli sends Tommy to Vice City to supervise an important drug deal. At the exchange, masked gunmen kill several of the people involved in the trade, stealing both the drugs and the money Tommy was charged with protecting. Vercetti narrowly escapes and informs Sonny, who demands that Tommy get back both the "product" and the money. Killing those responsible for the theft... well, that'd make both Sonny and Tommy happy.

Much of the action in Vice City concerns Vercetti's burgeoning criminal empire, spanning drug trafficking, murder for hire, counterfeiting, and protection. The player progresses through the game narrative by performing a series of missions, most of which involve criminal activities. This takes Vercetti from being a small-time hood staying in a cheap hotel to being the city's crime kingpin.

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Ocean Beach at night, PC version
Many themes are borrowed from the Brian De Palma movie Scarface and from the hit 1980s TV show Miami Vice. Vercetti's opulent mansion, and the climactic battle which takes place in it at the game's end, is very similar to their counterparts in Scarface. Most of the characters wear the then-fashionable white or pastel baggy cotton suits and, like Miami Vice, much of the action takes place in mansions, on speedboats, or in other glamorous settings. In fact, if the player's "wanted level" reaches four stars, a sports car joins the police in chasing the player; the occupants of the sports car are two undercover police officers who dress in a manner reminiscent of Miami Vice's lead characters.

Various radio stations can be received on radios in most vehicles in the game; one is an interview and chat station (KCHAT), another (VCPR) consists of the public access debate show Pressing Issues, and the remainder are music stations which cover particular musical genres such as rap music (Wildstyle (Radio)), rock (V-Rock) and (most predominantly) pop music (WAVE 103, Flash FM). The tracks are for the most part licensed works from various real-life artists such as Aneka, Blondie, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Mr. Mister, and other artists that fit the retro 80s theme. The radio stations and the game story also feature a fictional band called Love Fist. The multi-CD soundtrack to the game was an instant best-seller. In addition to music and interviews, the stations also include fake commercials such as the Degenatron, a fictional video game console (Save the green dots with your fantastic flying red square!). The commercials and the game setting are consistent: Degenatron advertisement appear on billboards, and ads air for stores in which the player can actually shop, such as AmmuNation.

The game features dozens of characters, many appearing only in the cut scenes which describe each mission. The voice-talent includes Ray Liotta as Vercetti, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds, Luis Guzmn, Miami Vice star Philip Michael Thomas, Danny Trejo, Gary Busey, Lee Majors, Fairuza Balk, and porn actress Jenna Jameson. The voice of the taxi dispatcher is provided by Blondie singer Debbie Harry.


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Police trouble, PC version
The gameplay is very open-ended (a groundbreaking characteristic of the Grand Theft Auto franchise) and although missions must be completed to finish the game, the player is able to drive around and visit different parts of the city (once "unlocked") and otherwise do whatever they wish if not currently working on a mission. Various items such as hidden weapons and packages are scattered throughout the landscape, and certain buildings can be bought by the player and then used as save points or sources of revenue.

Players can steal vehicles (cars, planes, boats, motorcycles, and helicopters), become involved in drive-by shootings, and generally create chaos. However, doing so generally attracts unwanted and potentially fatal attention from the police (or, in extreme cases, the FBI and even the U.S. Army).

Unlike previous games in the franchise, the player can also purchase a number of properties distributed around the city. Some of these are additional hideouts (essentially locations where weapons can be collected and the game saved). There are also a variety of businesses which the player can buy. These include a pornographic film studio, a dance club, a taxi company, an ice-cream delivery business, and a printing works. Each commercial property has a number of missions attached to it, such as eliminating the competition or stealing equipment. Once all the missions for a given property are complete the property provides an ongoing income, which the increasingly-prosperous Vercetti must periodically uplift.

Attacking a gang in Little Havana, PC version
Attacking a gang in Little Havana, PC version
Various gangs make frequent appearances in the game, some of whom are integral to story events. These gangs typically have a positive or negative opinion of the player and act accordingly by shooting at the player or following him. Shootouts between members of rival gangs can occur spontaneously and several missions involve organized fights between opposing gangs.

One is also able to carry out productive and (mostly) non-violent activities in the game such as pizza deliveries, driving injured people to a hospital with an ambulance, extinguishing fires with a fire truck, and much more, usually with a monetary reward. Although these activities often result in unique rewards, they are not integral to the main thrust of gameplay.

In addition, a wide array of guns and arms become available to the player as he or she completes more and more missions. Guns may be purchased at firearm store AmmuNation and other types of weapons (such as baseball bats, hammers and chainsaws) can be bought at various hardware stores.

The PC version of this game features improved performance over the PS2 version of GTA III, although the police AI seems to be lacking at times in comparison.


Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has been labeled as violent by many special interest groups, and is considered highly controversial. Some suggest that parental supervision is necessary when young people play this game. The ESRB rated this game "M" for Mature. In Australia, it was heavily modified to comply with current Australian censorship laws. Prostitutes and pimps were removed allowing the game to be given an MA15+ rating. In the UK, Vice City received an "18" certificate from the BBFC.

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GTA: Vice City, Ocean Beach in morning, PC version

In December, 2003, Cuban and Haitian groups in Florida targetted the title. They accused the game of inviting people to harm immigrants from those two nations. However, as is obvious to anyone who played the game, the lines such as "These Haitians! We take 'em out!" refer to members of a Haitian drug cartel, not every Haitian person. Interestingly, the line "Kill all the Haitians" often quoted by the media does not appear to be in the script. Nevertheless, the group managed to attract a lot of public attention to this non-issue. Rockstar Games had to issue a press release stating that they understood the concern of Cubans and Haitians, and that they believe those groups are blowing the game's actions out of proportion. Under further pressure, including threats from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to "do everything we possibly can" if Rockstar didn't comply, Take-Two (the game's publisher) did agree to remove several lines of dialogue.

In February, 2005, a lawsuit was brought upon the makers and distributors of the Grand Theft Auto series claiming the games caused a teenager to shoot and kill three members of the Alabama police force. The shooting took place in June of 2003 when, Devin Thompson, 17 years old at the time, was brought in for questioning to a Fayette police station regarding a stolen vehicle. Thompson then grabbed a pistol from one of the officers and shot and killed him along with another officer and dispatcher before fleeing in a police car [1] ( Thompson's attorney claims it was GTA's graphic nature - with his constant playing time - that caused Thompson to commit the murders, and Thompson's family agrees. Damages are being sought from the Jasper, Alabama branches of Gamestop and Wal-Mart, the stores from which Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, respectively, were purchased and also from the games' publisher Take-Two Interactive, and the PlayStation 2 manufacturer Sony Computer Entertainment.


A number of recurring characters appear during the various missions or cutscenes in the game. Prominent characters are listed here in rough order of appearance. (Note that the order in which some of these characters appear in-game depends upon the sequence in which the player completes certain missions.)

Tommy Vercetti

Tommy Vercetti is the game's protagonist. Vercetti's father worked at a printing shop, but he became a criminal in the employ of the Forelli family of the Liberty City Mafia. Tommy Vercetti was jailed in Liberty City for 15 years for multiple counts of murder, earning the nickname of the "Harwood Butcher." He is released in 1986 and is quickly sent by mob boss Sonny Forelli to the beach paradise of Vice City. There, Vercetti meets up with various underworld figures and begins his own vast criminal empire dealing in drugs, stolen vehicles, guns, and any other odd jobs (mostly illegal ones) that could provide a little extra cash.

It is eventually revealed that the incident which resulted in Vercetti's fifteen year imprisonment was an ambush and setup orchestrated by Sonny Forelli. Vercetti is said to have had his suspicions, but the truth is not unambiguously revealed until the final confrontation between both men.

He is voiced by Ray Liotta.

Sonny Forelli

Sonny Forelli is the head of the Forelli Mafia family in Liberty City circa 1986. After 15 years in the slammer, Vercetti agrees to take one last mission on for Sonny: a routine drug deal in Vice City which goes wrong. Vercetti loses both the money and the drugs, which Forelli orders him to retrieve. While Vercetti investigates and builds his crime empire, Forelli calls to check on him periodically. After he hears that Vercetti has gone solo, he sends enforcers to (unsuccessfully) rough up Vercetti's men and take his money. Finally, Forelli comes to Vice City to kill Vercetti himself. Vercetti fights off hordes of Forelli's goons, and kills both Forelli and former partner Lance Vance, who has betrayed him.

Forelli has notoriously poor taste in clothes and is voiced by Tom Sizemore.

Ken Rosenberg

Ken Rosenberg is a shady, neurotic lawyer who is closely affiliated with Tommy Vercetti. Rosenberg meets Vercetti at the Vice City airport and remains his ally throughout the game. He secures Tommy's release from prison whenever he is arrested, and his voice is sometimes briefly heard in these situations ("Tommy Vercetti is an innocent man!!!"). He has been reported to have problems with narcotics and egomania. He is also suspected of cheating on law school exams and having employed heavies on numerous occasions to intimidate and corrupt juries. Rosenberg's character parallels the lawyer David Kleinfeld (played by Sean Penn) in the movie Carlito's Way - both have the same frizzy hair and bad suits, and both are rendered increasingly paranoid and incoherent by their cocaine addictions.

Rosenberg has a very poor success rate at trial and is referred to as a "bonkers ambulance chaser" by Kent Paul, who goes on to state "that guy could defend an innocent man all the way to death row". He is voiced by William Fichtner.

Lance Vance

Lance Vance is a drug dealer who soon becomes Tommy Vercetti's partner in crime.

Lance worked in the narcotics trade with his brother, Victor: Lance piloted the helicopter and Victor conducted the deals themselves. In the game's opening cutscene, Lance flies Victor to a cocaine deal with Sonny Forelli's men (Ken Rosenberg and three others, including Tommy Vercetti). But before the goods could change hands, Victor and two of Forelli's men are shot down in an ambush. Lance, still in the helicopter, flies away unscathed, while Vercetti jumps into the car with Rosenberg and narrowly escapes.

Lance meets Vercetti face-to-face shortly after Tommy murders a small-time gangster/cook named Leo. Each agrees to help the other get revenge on whoever wrecked the cocaine deal. Lance, however, comes to resent Tommy's attitude and greater share of their money, and eventually betrays Vercetti in the last mission of the game.

Lance Vance is voiced by Miami Vice star Philip Michael Thomas, one of Vice City's many references to Miami Vice.

Juan Garcia Cortez

Juan Cortez, a retired Central American Colonel, is an acquaintance of Ken Rosenberg. He helped set up the failed exchange that brought Tommy Vercetti to Vice City. He throws huge parties on his extravagant yacht for his beautiful daughter, Mercedes, and fellow crime bosses. He has managed to survive up to 30 coups in his native country and has been sentenced to death nine times. Colonel Cortez enjoys dining on endangered species, which he considers a hallmark of fine living. He also ties together nearly all areas of criminal activity, including narcotics, firearms, weapons, and military secrets.

One mission in particular that Vercetti has to complete for Cortez was borrowed from the movie Scarface. Because the French military won't let up, Cortez must flee Vice City. Tommy helps the Colonel escape and is given the Colonel's eternal gratitude.

Juan Cortez is voiced by Robert Davi.

BJ Smith

BJ Smith is the former tight-end of the Vice City Mambas professional football team. He is a frequent guest at Juan Cortez' parties, and has had a little trouble adjusting to life off of the gridiron. He created the exercise video "BJ's Fit for Football" and owns BJ's Used Autos.

BJ Smith is voiced by real-life former professional football player Lawrence "LT" Taylor.

Mercedes Cortez

Mercedes Cortez is Juan's daughter. She is initially set up as a possible love interest for Tommy Vercetti, but this plotline is never explored.

Mercedes Cortez is voiced by Fairuza Balk.

Kent Paul

Kent Paul is probably an assumed name; his real name is unknown. He also goes by "KP", "Paulo" and "Kent". Paul is an English Youth who works in the music business but claims to be a criminal mastermind. He has contacts with biker gangs, but has had a falling-out with Big Mitch Baker's gang. He is very "good with rumors", has information on most of the major crime units of Vice City, and seems to have contacts in certain SWAT divisions. He is also, however, a pathological liar and a suspected drug addict. Kent acts as a manager to the rock band Love Fist and is usually found at the Malibu night club.

Kent Paul is voiced by Danny Dyer.

Avery Carrington

Avery Carrington is a Texan property magnate and real estate developer. He likes to talk about his father and about the good ol' days. He is an extreme capitalist who is willing to do anything to manipulate property prices and land value, including arson, rioting, bribery, intimidation, murder. He always wears a cowboy hat and is believed to be involved in several developments and slum-clearance programs. He is a frequent guest at Cortez' parties. He uses Ken Rosenberg for legal advice, which may be his weak point. He has an apprentice, Donald Love, who is a major character in Grand Theft Auto 3 as a business tycoon.

Avery Carrington is voiced by Burt Reynolds.

Ricardo Diaz

Ricardo Diaz is the extremely dangerous individual behind the ambush of Vercetti's drug deal. He later recruits Vercetti to run errands for him, but eventually Vercetti discovers Diaz' role and takes him out, seizing his estate in the process. Diaz bribed the INS for a green card in 1978, after entering the country from Colombia. His contacts there believe he is a major player in the illegal drug industry and anti-government activity. Diaz is an extremely popular philanthropist who gives money to foundations across Vice City and Central and South America, but all are believed to be fronts. He is short in stature and is thought to suffer from a Napoleon complex. His medical records show he has over-active glands and sweats more than is socially acceptable. He is a noted gun collector and is always armed; he has a private militia and is heavily guarded at all times. He has been involved in a long-running battle for control of the drug business in Vice City and has bribed most police and officials within the town. He is feared due to his reputation of unpredictable behavior and may be responsible for 18 murders.

Ricardo Diaz is voiced by Luis Guzman.

Love Fist

Love Fist is a Scottish hard-rock band in Vice City, managed by Kent Paul. The band's members are Jezz Torrent, Willy, Dick and Percy.

Big Mitch Baker

"Big" Mitch Baker is a Vietnam veteran turned motorcycle enthusiast. Vice City's cops tend to mistreat veterans, which has led Baker into many clashes with them. He runs the local bike gang at the Greasy Chopper bar and is extremely loyal to them. Tommy Vercetti has to earn Baker's respect before he can get the gang to provide security for a Love Fist concert. Big Mitch also occasionally calls into Vice City's rock-and-roll radio station complaining of the fact that they play too many hair bands and not enough hard rock.

Big Mitch Baker is voiced by Lee Majors.

Steve Scott

Steve Scott is a porn film director at Interglobal Films. He has an uncanny resemblance to Steven Spielberg. Tommy Vercetti buys his studio and brings him stars, while funding a new film starring Candy Suxxx. Steve is obsessed with making a movie about a giant shark; a movie poster for the Candy Suxxx movie Bite appears later in the game and is clearly an homage to Steven Spielberg's movie Jaws.

Steve Scott is voiced by Dennis Hopper.

Congressman Alex Shrub

Loosely based on George W. Bush, Alex Shrub became the youngest state congressman in Vice City history because, according to Maurice Chavez, "he has great hair and says things that make you nod your head." During his congressional campaign, Shrub called his opponent "a buffalo butt and a fat, hen-pecked wimp that couldn't fight his way out of a wet paper bag." His wife's name is Laura.

Alex Shrub is voiced by Chris Lucas.

Candy Suxxx

Candy Suxxx was originally a prostitute residing in the Downtown area; Congressman Alex Shrub is a regular of hers until she is hired by Tommy Vercetti to work at the Interglobal Films porn studio.

Candy Suxxx is voiced by real-life porn star Jenna Jameson.

Umberto Robina

Umberto Robina is a Cuban warlord who has been involved in a long-term Vice City turf war with Haitian criminals. He is an extremely macho man who wants to wage full scale war with the Haitian gang, however, he has never personally implicated in a crime and his bravery has been questioned within Cuban circles. He is good friends with Tommy Vercetti and treats him as an equal.

Umberto Robina is voiced by Danny Trejo.

Auntie Poulet

Auntie Poulet is a leader of the Haitian gang. She gives Tommy Vercetti mind-altering voodoo potions to get him to cooperate in the missions she wants him to undertake. This includes acting against the Cubans, with whom he has friendly relations. Ultimately, she cuts her ties with him, giving Tommy the opportunity to destroy the Haitians' main drug plant and make permanent enemies of them.

Auntie Poulet is voiced by Youree Cleomili Harris, better known as infamous "psychic hotline" spokeswoman Miss Cleo.

Phil Cassidy

Phil Cassidy is a gun expert and dealer who first appeared in GTA3, where he claimed to have lost an arm in Vietnam. In Vice City he appears with both arms intact and participates in "The Job". In Tommy's final mission for him, Phil loses an arm when his "boomshine", a homemade explosive/alcoholic beverage, explodes directly in front of him. After that point he continues to sell Tommy rare and powerful weapons. He possibly suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Phil Cassidy is voiced by Gary Busey.

Hilary King

Hilary King is a talented, neurotic, and highly dependent driver who is involved in two missions with Vercetti. In "The Driver", he agrees to help Tommy if he can beat Hilary in a street race. In "The Job", he participates in a bank robbery and is cut down in a hail of gunfire during the escape. This is a reference to the 1995 movie Heat, directed by Michael Mann, who was executive producer of Miami Vice.

Hilary King is voiced by Charles Tucker.

Cam Jones

Cam Jones is a safecracker Tommy frees from jail to recruit for his "bank robbery" team. He is a rather minor character; after he opens the safe, his death or survival has no bearing on the remainder of the game. (Phil Cassidy: "Too bad Cam didn't make it though." Tommy Vercetti: "But then again, more for us." PC: "You got that right!")

Cam Jones is voiced by Greg Sims.


Radio Stations

See Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack

  • V-Rock
  • Wave 103
  • Emotion 98.3
  • Flash FM
  • Wildstyle
  • Fever 105
  • Radio Espantoso
  • VCPR

External links


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