Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for iOS Review: Solid Port Of A Classic Console Title
Any console gamer worth their salt is at least familiar with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, one of the top entries in the popular franchise. When it came out a decade ago it was lauded for its deep story, great gameplay, and retro 80s flavor. The good news is, none of these elements has been diminished in the game’s port to iOS. The better news is, they’ve also done a great job in adapting the game to the touch format.
As with any port of this type, I am reluctant to review Vice City as a game. It’s a decade-old classic that lives by its reputation in the minds of gamers everywhere. It’s the story of Tommy Vercetti (voiced by Ray Liotta), the low-on-the-totem-pole crook who rises in the criminal ranks in Vice City by any means necessary. It’s set in 1986, the era of big hair, bright clothes, and awesome pop music. And it features the open-world gameplay that the GTA series helped popularize. It’s all still good as it was a decade ago, and just as complete; as far as I’m aware, Rockstar didn’t remove a single element of the game for this release.
As for the port itself, it is very well executed. The console controls for GTA: VC could get very complicated, but Rockstar has done a good job of adapting those controls to the simplified touch format. They make good use of contextual buttons to prevent crowding the screen with different control buttons. Driving is less fluid, and I wish they’d done a little more work to make driving similar to what you might get in an iOS racing title; but then, that would have meant changing the game beyond what was needed for porting. That wasn’t their goal here.
Well, almost. Rockstar did decide to revise the graphics of the game for this release. Still, the graphics are not the best you will see on iOS. They improved, but they’re still built around decade-old polygons. Honestly, they’re at about the level of design and detail as Gameloft was putting out around 2010 (think Zombie Infection or the original N.O.V.A.). That’s still plenty good enough to enjoy, though, and the retro-ness only adds to the nostalgia.
One thing that is gloriously unchanged is the sountrack. All the original voicework is there, and all of it is still better than your typical iOS game. And then there’s the awesome 80s music. Love it!
That’s not to say Vice City is a perfect game. The original was excellent, but the game was prone to stretches of tedious driving and grinding of small missions. That’s still a problem here, love it or hate it. Then there’s the game map, which is small and pixely and not very helpful for navigating; the little corner map, especially, is useless for anything but navigating towards very close objectives. I would have loved to have seen some sort of transparent overlay map on-screen, or something. At the very least, I wish they’d made the existing map a bit clearer and higher-resolution.
If you have fond memories of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and wish to relive it again on your iPhone, you should grab this game. If you’re new to the franchise and want to experience GTA for the first time, you should grab this game. It’s a great port and a welcome addition to the App Store.
Our Score: 4.5 out of 5.