I’ve never been horrible at Grand Theft Auto games. Not great by any means, but good enough to beat any mission I play, even if it takes me multiple attempts. As Rockstar release newer titles in the GTA series, the better I get. Out of the eight GTA games that I have played, only GTA: San Andreas and GTA IV have had the honour of gracing me with their ending credits. Even then it took me well over 12 months to beat each one. That’s not even 100% completing it either, just completing all the missions.
This is not due to any flaw by Rockstar. In fact it’s due to great game design. The nature of a GTA game is that it entices me, and most people, away from the story missions and into a wide open world, full of discovery, humor and secrets with hidden packages, secret areas and stunt jumps. I like to call these distractions “screwing around”.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice city was the first GTA with 3D polygons that I spent a countless amount of hours in. Although I had played GTA III before, the entirety of my time with that game was only 24 hours. Actually it wasn’t even that long. I had hired a Playstation 2 from the local video store along with GTA III and 007: Agent Under Fire. After being hooked on Goldeneye 64, I wanted to play the poop out of the new James Bond game. This meant I only got a few play sessions with GTA III.
The first time I played Vice City, it was at a friends house. It was 2002 and I was yet to acquire a PS2 of my own. We spent the day driving, exploring, shooting, killing and running away from tha po-po. We didn’t even attempt a mission. We were just screwing around. Our play session was only interrupted by my friend’s mother asking if I wanted to stay for dinner. HELL’S YES! All this AND dinner! I was in.
Dinner was oven baked fish. I did not know this. I do not like fish. It was the first and the last time I can recall eating any seafood since I was a young child.
After food time we continued playing throughout the night.
Sometime shortly after that, probably just a few days if my memory serves me, which it often doesn’t, I went to EB Games (Electronics Boutique at the time)and purchased Vice City for PC and a Microsoft Sidewinder gamepad. In retrospect, the gamepad probably contributed to my sucking at the game. Vice City, a game designed to be played with twin analogue sticks, takes a hell of a lot to play with a single directional pad.
No camera control. No analogue movement. Only two trigger buttons. A butt-load of face buttons. I had to customise the button layout multiple times before being able to do basic things in-game. Sure it crossed my mind to use a keyboard and mouse, but I was a console gamer. I’d never even heard of WASD. At some points I had to give up the traditional “two-thumb control” style and adopt an “over the top multiple fingers on face buttons” technique. It worked, but it definitely didn’t stand up to the PS2 controller and it’s natural layout crafted by the game’s developers.
Another thing that led to me never completing Vice City is my short attention span. Besides getting distracted in-game by the temptation of killing hookers and running over girls in bikinis, my interest would go towards other things and GTA would be put on the back burner. Every time I decided to go back to my game I would feel the need to start from the beginning again. This happened on too many occasions and coupled with the sidewinder gamepad, I never got around to completing the story.
Now a decade later, Rockstar have celebrated by releasing a tenth anniversary edition of GTA Vice City for Android and IOS. I am currently playing it on my Samsung Galaxy S III and I hope that my experience in playing the first half of the game over and over again for the last ten years has given me enough skill to complete the main story missions at the least. Frankly I have no idea what happens at the end of the game and it’s one of the few I would like to see the ending credits for.
Look for the video review of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soon.