Like ''GrandTheftAutoLibertyCityStories'', this game took a new plot to the same setting as a previous ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' game. But it avoids being a MissionPackSequel to ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoViceCity'' by including a lot of its own elements, such as improved gameplay, mission elements and the ability to swim. Some of the side missions now have continue points, for one. Like ''LCS'', it was originally a {{PSP}} exclusive, but was later ported to PS2. A fan-made PC version is being developed by doing a total conversion of ''GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas''.

The plot is stocked with ''a lot'' of DramaticIrony, as the game is both chronologically the earliest in the GTA 3D era as well as the last entry in that continuity, meaning that it is loaded to the brim with {{Call Forward}}s and {{Continuity Nod}}s to the other games in the 3D era.

This game is set in 1984, two years before ''Vice City'', and follows Victor "Vic" Vance, a former soldier who is dishonorably discharged after his corrupt commanding officer, Sgt. Jerry Martinez, pays him to shelter drugs and a prostitute on base -- both of which are discovered. The rest of the game is about him getting revenge on Martinez, who is part of a powerful drug cartel, as well as (reluctantly) building a criminal empire with his brother Lance.
Distinct tropes of this game:
* AntiHero: Victor Vance.
* AsHimself: Music/PhilCollins.
* BaldOfAwesome: Vic has a shaved head. Depending on how you play, this can also be BaldOfEvil.
* BrokenBridge: As in ''Vice City'', the bridges are closed at the start due to a hurricane warning, although this time you start from the opposite side.
* CampGay: Reni Wassulmaier. [[spoiler: At least until ''he'' becomes a ''she''.]]
* CollectionSidequest: There are [[ShoutOut 99 red balloons]] scattered around Vice City. Some of them are hard to miss, but quite a few of them are up high and require a sniper rifle (and in a few cases, a helicopter) to reach. It's well worth popping them all, as you gradually unlock valuable weapons and equipment at Vic's safehouses - having this gear available for free saves you thousands of dollars.
* ConflictKiller: [[spoiler:Sgt. Martinez]].
* DeepSouth: Marty Jay Williams and his Trailer Park Mafia personify this trope.
* DepravedHomosexual: The game briefly features a small biker gang called the White Stallionz that is composed of gay white supremacists. Vic destroys the entire gang.
* DirtyCop: Bryan Forbes, who is so bent that it would be more accurate to say he's a criminal who goes undercover as a cop.
* DoomedByCanon: [[spoiler:Vic is the first playable protagonist in the series to die, which comes during the intro of ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoViceCity''.]]
* DualBoss: [[spoiler:Sgt. Martinez and Diego Mendez]].
* TheEighties: Much like the original ''Vice City'', the Eighties setting is a huge part of the appeal.
* EightiesHair: Louise, which is even more clearly this in the art work.
* AnEntrepreneurIsYou: The normal business missions have been expanded to the "Empire Building" feature: You attack rival businesses, take them over, choose what type of business you want to set up (drugs, prostitution, etc.), and choose the size of the building (the bigger, the better). You can then take missions from these buildings to improve your reputation.
* EscortMission: Several characters, from Phil, to Louise, to Reni.
* EverythingsDeaderWithZombies: The mission "Brawn Of The Dead", which has you acting as a stuntman in a zombie movie that is an obvious ShoutOut to ''Film/DawnOfTheDead1978''.
* FallenHero: By game's end, Vic is a far cry from the straight-laced soldier he was at the beginning of the story.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Jerry Martinez and Armando Mendez.
* FurAndLoathing / PrettyInMink: Louise buys herself a pink fur jacket in the second half of the game (that can also be seen in the opening and one of the {{Loading Screen}}s). But before then, she was a good girl, just in over her head. After that, she was all coked-up and ditzy (just not to anywhere near the degree of the Vance boys' mother).
* GameplayAndStoryIntegration: Vic has military training and is easily among the most powerful of the GTA protagonists in a fistfight. He can also sprint while holding a rifle.
* HelloSailor: While giving a big speech on having balls, Umberto tells Vic to show the other cubans his balls. Vic replies "I was in the army, not the navy."
* HideYourChildren: Well, except for Mary-Beth, Louise's baby, who appears in several cutscenes.
* InsurmountableWaistHeightFence: Vic can't climb (unless it's up to shore out of water), even after ''[[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas San Andreas]]'' averted this.
* MacGuffinEscortMission: Don't let them "[[ShoutOut Kill]] [[Film/KillBill Phil]]"!
* TheMillstone: A lot of Victor's problems are due to Lance's screw ups.
* MissionPackSequel: Just not as much as ''[[GrandTheftAutoLibertyCityStories Liberty City Stories]]''.
* OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: Umberto Robina helps you to defend your businesses [[spoiler:from the Mendez brothers]] in "Blitzkrieg Strikes Again". In person. Too bad both of you are assigned different businesses to defend and you don't actually see him fighting.
* PinkMeansFeminine: Louise's fur coat is pink, and before that, her exercise clothes were part pink.
* {{Prequel}} Not only is this a prequel to ''Vice City'', it's chronologically the first game in the ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIII'' continuity. It takes place 17 years prior to the events of the original GTAIII, which is the last game in the series in terms of chronology.
* PsychopathicManChild: Lance Vance. He is an adult and a drug dealer, and is probably the only character in the entire series, at least in this sequel, acting childish, but nevertheless, is a sadistic murderer.
* RapeAsDrama: What Martinez does to Louise.
* RunningGag: Some missions involving [[TheLoad Lance]] usually end with Lance riding a vehicle alone and without even bother to offer Vic to ride with him, much to the latter's chagrin. This is PlayedForLaughs, because most of these usually happen right before the "Mission Passed" screen appear.
* SceneryPorn: Vice City at dusk. The neon is all lit up, and the sky is painted in glorious shades of orange and red.
* ShoutOut: [[ShoutOut/GrandTheftAuto All on this page.]]
* ShowWithinAShow: By this point, the idea of the game featuring an extensive array of in-game radio stations playing licensed and original music was old hat, so the programmers upped the ante by introducing several old-style dramatic radio programs into the mix, specially written for the game.
* StuffedIntoTheFridge: [[spoiler:Louise.]]
* TheLoad: Lance... even moreso that he was in ''[[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoViceCity Vice City]]''. See TheMillstone as well.
* ThisLooksLikeAJobForAquaman: Completing 15 firefighter levels will make Vic completely immune to fire. Not a single enemy throughout the game, be they naturally spawning or scripted for a mission, attacks you with fire... except [[BossBattle Armando Mendez,]] who will attack you with a flamethrower, does not switch weapons, and has no other enemies around him. This means that it's impossible to die unless you kill yourself on purpose with a grenade, turning this into a CurbStompBattle. You can just [[ShootingSuperman walk through the onslaught of flames]] and beat him with your bare fists if you so desire.
* TooDumbToLive: Lance, ''good God, Lance!'' [[spoiler: If you felt bad about killing him in Vice City, this game will rapidly change your mind]].
* ViceCity: Of course.
* WeAllLiveInAmerica: During one of Phil Cassidy's missions, you have to track down some Cholos so Phil can do a drive by on them. After failing to find any, Phil remarks that it could take awhile and it's "Good job I brought something to drink." "Good job" is exclusively a British phrase, and one someone as redneck as Phil would ''never'' say.
* WideOpenSandbox: Not to the same degree as GTA: San Andreas or GTA IV, in part due to the somewhat restricted geography of Vice City, but also because once you start "Empire building" you will constantly have to deal with gangs trying to take over your turf, reducing the opportunity to explore and do stuff on your own.