A year after Grand Theft Auto III tore up the gaming world, Rockstar Games topped it with the sequel, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.Unlike its predecessor, Vice City features a full-fledged protagonist in "The Harwood Butcher" Tommy Vercetti, who has just finished spending fifteen years in jail for killing eleven people during a job to assassinate one man in the neighborhood of Harwood. The Forelli mob family knows Tommy will cause more trouble if they allow him to roam Liberty City unchecked, so they send him down to Florida's Vice City to keep him out of the way — and to help the family get into the new "businesses" growing there.Things don't go well on Tommy's first job, though: one of Vice City's mob bosses betrays him, he loses all of his money (and the cocaine he intended to purchase with it), and Sonny Forelli starts breathing down his neck for the failure. Tommy decides to get even with everyone who set him up — and possibly carve out a criminal empire of his own in the process.Since Vice City takes place in 1986, Rockstar did its best to capture the look and feel of that time — or, at least, how it looked inMiami Vice. It helps that the game had a killer '80s soundtrack to go with it.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City contains examples of the following tropes:
100% Completion: It gets you +100 on your armor and health, a new shirt, cash, and unlimited ammo.
All Bikers Are Hell's Angels: Big Mitch Baker and his gang, whose trust you have to earn in order to employ him and his gang as security at a Love Fist concert.
Amazon Brigade: The Counterfeiting Syndicate, surprisingly enough. There's also a cheat code which gives the player his own bikini clad, M4 packing amazon brigade in place of his regular goons.
Ambulance Chaser: Rosenburg qualifies, and is described as such by Kent Paul. He's shown not to be a particularly good lawyer or mobster. Yet he remains loyal to you and is still alive at the end of the game. Getting busted at any point during the game nets you a randomised soundbite of Rosenburg defending Tommy against the police. It seems that befriending a lawyer when in Vice City is a most wise course of action.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: You get outfits as a reward for numerous missions. That and money, but the money usually isn't very good. Beating the game also gets you an outfit, in addition to several other benefits.
Pastor Richards: Every time a culture has taken on the doctrine of helping your fellow man, we get thrown into the dark ages. Look at Russia! They keep trying to help each other out; extend a hand to a neighbor. And guess what? Every ten years, someone's invading, burning down their homes, and taken their toilet paper.
The Machete may look like a great weapon to carry, but once you have access to the Katana, Machetes are harder to justify due the Katana still allowing the use of sprinting and still being quite deadly.
The Sawed-Off Shotgun seems like it could be quite potent and it may be in certain situations, but its range is shorter note meaning that it is likely to not hit across a street than the SPAS-12 and the spread is so wide that it is tricky to find the perfect situation to use it. It deals the most damage per shotgun shell note all shotguns use the same shotgun shells in this game but the SPAS-12 tends to be better all-around due to its 7-shot-magazine and fast-for-shotguns automatic fire.
Ax-Crazy: Tommy, not for nothing he was named "The Hardwood Butcher".
Bait and Switch: After the main storyline ends, Tommy gets a call from Colonel Cortez. Cortez has been hearing rumors about his daughter Mercedes that have him very distressed. Tommy, who let her star in an adult film he was backing and basically pimped her to a rock band, becomes increasingly nervous. Cortez asks him to tell him that it isn't true—that Mercedes isn't going to become a lawyer. Tommy laughs, and assures Cortez that there's no chance of that happening.
Pastor Richards: Well, let me say that money could have gone to much better things, like reserving a place by my side in the Pastor Richards Salvation Statue, but I digress and plug.
The Cameo: Donald Love, the media-kingpin from III appears in Vice City as a toadying businessman for Texas real estate baron Avery Carrington. He has no actual speaking lines. As a Call Forward, Avery uses several lines that Love uses in III, showing where Love picked them up.
The Cartel: Ricardo Diaz's organization until Tommy and Lance take him down for good.
Chainsaw Good: Debuts in this game. It can be used as an effective way to mow down pedestrians in seconds (and squirts blood on the screen).
Chekhov's Army: The party on Cortez's yacht serves to introduce a plethora of minor characters, all of whom play bigger roles later down the line (with the exception of Pastor Richards; see Author Existence Failure above).
Child Hater: The owner of the ice cream factory. Which is funny considering the lack of children in any GTA game.
Cool Plane: Also the first to feature accessible helicopters, or indeed, any useful air transport, not counting the barely-airborne and aptly-named Dodo in Grand Theft Auto III.
Crapsaccharine World: Vice City seems to be a nice, clean place on the surface, with bright colors and summer in full swing, but it's still a city filled with criminals, mobsters, drug lords and gang-bangers.
Deadpan Snarker: Tommy, who sometimes has a few things to say about his employers, and lets the player in on his thoughts.
Also Maurice Chavez, host of the "Pressing Issues" show on VCPR, given that he's the Only Sane Man, relatively speaking, compared to all the guests on his show.
Disc One Final Boss: Ricardo Diaz, after he reveals to Lance that he was responsible for the death of Lance's brother, Victor, during the botched transaction in the intro. The game doesn't end with Diaz's death; it means the first half of Vice City is complete.
Disc One Nuke: The mission called "Sir, Yes Sir" makes it very easy to acquire a Rhino before they can even start appearing on the Wanted Meter. Just take the tank over to a garage and fail the mission.
The Python is an endgame-viable weapon that can kill just about everything in one hit. It will spawn in Tommy's main hideouts just by collecting 30 hidden packages, which can be done before even completing the first mission.
Drunk Driver: One mission has Tommy driving Phil Cassidy to the hospital after a boomshine explosion. Problem is, Tommy is drunk as a result of merely smelling the boomshine, and the cops notice. The screen gets blurry and the car starts swerving. Thankfully, it's pretty easy to adapt to.
The Eighties: Hawaiian shirts, sports blazers, neon everywhere, pastels, polyester, Michael Jackson and Hall and Oates on the radio, and '80s Hair, among other things. This game is pure Eighties distilled into one package.
Et Tu, Brute?: Lance Vance, in the last mission, betrays and tries to kill Tommy.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: There is no question that Tommy is an unrepentant killer, but he genuinely cares for Old Man Kelly and will exact righteous vengeance on those who harm him. In a more platonic sense, Cortez seems to be the only other man in the city Tommy truly respects as a friend and ally.
Evil Versus Evil: Almost every character in Vice City is a criminal, from murderers, drug lords, corrupt managers or mobsters. Much in the same way, Tommy, is a Villain Protagonist who does not seem to be any better than his enemies.
Tommy could be seen as one for Tony Montana from Scarface — having a very similar character arc and very similar surface similarities (similar outfits and mansion). However, unlike Montana, Tommy never uses his own product and thus manages to retain his sanity while Tony slowly slips into madness towards the end of his story.
Pastor Richards has more than a few similarities to faith healer/scam artist Peter Popoff, who became well-known around the time the game takes place.
Eureka Moment: In "G-Spotlight", the following takes place after Tommy asks Steve what to do for the launch of their film:
Steve Scott: In the old days, we used to have gala events: stars, limos, the night sky crisscrossed with searchlights...
Tommy: Searchlights! I've got an idea...
The idea? Using a PCJ-600 to jump from rooftop to rooftop Downtown starting from a office building and ultimately ending at a building with a searchlight... then Batman-ing it to display this◊.
Face-Heel Turn: In the final mission, Lance sells Tommy out to Sonny Forelli, his reasons being that he was sick of "being treated like a little kid" and wanting a bigger slice of the action. Tommy wastes no time chasing Lance up to the roof of the mansion and killing him.
Game-Breaking Bug: The "super cop", a glitched police officer that could catch you literally anywhere, be on a roof, in a car, or even in the air. This could result in an instant arrest if you are missing a door or starting a chopper, though thankfully the guy gets tossed off as long as you've got momentum.
A fun game to do is to find a really secluded area and run around in circles. You can catch the game spawning supercop out of thin air into an area he couldn't have possibly gotten to if you're quick enough.
There are several ways to get past the Broken Bridges early in the game (parking an ambulance on top of a Cheetah using its ramp-like hood and then climbing on top and jumping is a popular method) and there's no penalty unlike every game afterwards until V (SA and IV, for instance, immediately give you a full wanted level for sequence breaking like this). The downside is of course there isn't a whole lot to do on the second island until it's officially opened, but can lead to a few odd out-of-whack sequencing in the storyline.
Saving the game at the ice cream factory has been known to corrupt many a gamer's save file.
The Malibu crash (for lack of a better name), exclusive to the PC version (and possibly the PS2 version as well), causes the game to immediately crash when nearing the vicinity of the Malibu. It's not known what causes it, but it causes the game to crash, saying "Error reading the Grand Theft Auto Vice City DVD."
Gatling Good: The most powerful weapon in the game is the minigun. It can blow up anything short of a tank in seconds, and mows down crowds like dominoes.
Get Back Here Boss: Lance does this in the final mission. It can be subverted if you have a minigun, which can kill him before he has the chance to start running.
Guide Dang It: Most of the commercial properties you can buy have some sort of mission attached to them which unlocks their revenue generation. Not the strip club. There, you just have to fork out cash to the strippers for ten minutes to reach the maximum amount of revenue. There is not a hint about this.
If you hadn't figured out that you need to press the L3 to turn on the ice cream truck's music by the time you attempt to do the "ice cream" selling side mission, you will pull your hair out trying to figure out how to get people to buy your goods. The controller scheme on the pause menu does not show this feature, nor does the game ever tell you this is what you need to do.
Gratuitous French: Rarely, Haitian gang members will say "Attention!" during fights, using the French pronunciation ("attention" means "Beware" or "Watch out" in french).
Gratuitous Spanish: Pepe, the DJ from Espantoso, speaks almost exclusively in Spanish. The Cuban gang members also use random Spanish words.
Hair-Trigger Temper: Tommy and Ricardo Diaz, but the latter isn't competent enough to compensate for it.
Hand Cannon and Revolvers Are Just Better: The third most powerful gun by far is the Colt Python revolver, which can kill regular enemies with one shot and armored enemies with two. However, it also has a low ammo capacity and slow fire rate compared to the regular pistol, and a shorter range than the assault rifles and sub-machine guns, which balances it out.
Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Tommy Vercetti's default outfit consists of acid-washed jeans and a jaunty blue Hawaiian shirt.
Helicopter Blender: Any helicopter can do this, even the little RC helicopters. The bigger ones have a harder time with it, naturally.
Hotter and Sexier: Of all the GTA sequels, this was the first to have girls with bikini on the beaches. And even one of them appears on the game poster.
Hypocritical Humor: A good chunk of the guests on VCPR's "Pressing Issues" flat out contradict themselves or don't practice what they preach. An example, from the episode about morality: Jan calls the video game Degenetron a "crock of shit", but then says she beat her son for using some of the so-called bad words in the game (such as "rad", "cool", and "stick it").
Impersonating an Officer: Tommy and Lance disguise themselves as cops at one point. After this, the cop disguise is made available at the VCPD office near the Malibu. Donning it lets you walk around the police station and military base without getting shot at.
Jerkass: Almost everyone, including Tommy, but specially Lance Vance, Sonny Forelli, Maude Hanson and Ricardo Diaz.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: It's debatable how moral Tommy Vercetti was. But he definitely get one of these moments in the mission "Messing With The Man", killing civilians and causing destruction in the city.
Lighter and Softer: While the game isn't lighter itself, the story is very optimistic and fun, plenty of references of movies of The Eighties and despite Tommy's rather unpleasant personalty, he does seem to generally care about his friends. Not to mention a fairly happy ending.
We could specify that even the game's physics is lighter and softer, considering that they are brightly colors, summer weather and a cleaner city, in contrast with Grand Theft Auto III, that has a winter weather and a more serious plot.
Limited Loadout: Since there's a lot more guns in this game than in the previous installment, you can only carry one of each type at a time, and have to swap them if you want to use a different one.
Limited Wardrobe: The first GTA game to avert this. The game had pick-up icons that spawned at fixed locations which changed Tommy's default outfit to a different, pre-set costume. While it lacked the numerous customization options seen in later titles, the Clothing pick-ups were very handy for, among other things, quickly erasing a two-star wanted rating. Some notable examples listed below:
A Police Uniform that allows you to sneak into the Police HQ, allowing you to collect one of the Hidden Packages inside as well as to be permitted entry into the National Guard base to steal the Hunter and Rhino parked there.
Living Legend: Tommy Vercetti was sent to Vice City because, as "The Harwood Butcher", he was too hot for Liberty City.
Loony Fan: A couple of missions involves Tommy hired as a bodyguard for Love Fist, after an obsessed fan attempts to kill them.
Loophole Abuse: Due to the way checkpoints and the like work, some missions could be performed in unintended vehicles. For example, the "G-Spotlight" mission expects you to use a motorcycle to jump from roof to roof, but these same stunts can be done with a helicopter, making the mission a lot easier.
Metallicar Syndrome: The assassin Lance Vance and his immaculate white Lamborghini. Granted, he's driving it around a town that is analogous to 1980s Miami, but it's still a bit flashy for a career criminal with a price on his head.
Mugged for Disguise: One mission has Tommy and Lance knock out some police officers and take their uniforms. As is common with this trope, the officers are left Bound and Gagged (though not seen as such) and never mentioned after this.
My Girl Is a Slut: Tommy has no problem with Mercedes being in a porn film he produces, or "entertaining" a rock band he's helping out.
The Napoleon: Ricardo Diaz. Seeing as he's also Vice City's most prolific drug lord, (before Tommy kills him, that is) this also overlaps with Mister Big.
No Honor Among Thieves: Unfortunately for Tommy, he believes the family to firmly adhere to the principle of Honor Among Thieves. This makes him somewhat naive in his dealings with fellow Mafia members. When Sonny proves this is not the case, it seems Tommy is equally upset over the betrayal of this principle (if not more so) as he is for the personal slights against him.
Oddly, there is nothing at all in Harwood besides the radio station. (And the pier, which was demolished between Liberty City Stories and GTAIII.) Although it could be that the place was differently populated in the 70's when the incident happened.
Punched Across the Room: If you take the steroid power-up, Tommy can punch people ridiculous distances and run much faster. Unfortunately, so much as hitting a slight bump while running can kill you due to the 'stubbing your toe' issue from curbs and other such short drops.
Retcon: Phil Cassidy loses his arm in a different way than he claims to have in III, and he couldn't have been that drunk. Not a "hard" Ret Con since Cassidy is shown as being a military fanatic who would turn an embarrassing story into another aspect of his fantasy.
Roof Hopping: Done twice: First in the mission "The Chase", where you have to pursue a rogue Diaz goon across some rooftops before the chase moves to the streets. The second time is the mission "G-Spotlight", where you do this with a motorcycle to project a porn ad on the side of a building.
Running Gag: Whenever he is offered food or alcohol, Tommy always refuses. During the Cuban gang missions, he'll often try to get a cup of coffee only to be dragged off on a mission by Umberto.
Whenever Tommy meets up with Kent Paul, he ends up manhandling him. Guy must hate Brits.
Whenever Tommy purchases a new business, no matter how innocuous it seems on the surface, it ends up being a front for illegal activity. An ice cream factory? They use it to sell drugs. A cab company? They're in a literal war with a rival cab company. A printing press? The printer is a counterfeiter. Tommy only finds out about all of these after he buys the business. Note that, in the last example, Tommy actually wanted to run a legitimate business; the owner, an old friend, convinced him that counterfeiting was more profitable.
Scenery Porn: Despite the dated graphics, Vice City can be quite gorgeous, especially at dawn and dusk.
Barry: My mother understood I was special! She made me wear a bonnet as a child. And when I demanded to go to school naked, she was fine with it! After social services moved me, she would still write to me. I still remember when she kissed me goodbye.
Maurice: But Barry, earlier you said you discovered Naturism, taking your clothes off, whatever it is in Germany.
Barry: I know, but I lie a lot. Uh, I got a lot of personal issues. Look at me! Please, Maurice! I need a hug!
Shameless Self-Promoter: On the VCPR show "Pressing Issues", two guests in particular couldn't resist plugging their projects: Pastor Richards and his "Salvation Statue" that was allegedly supposed to blast off into space with his loyal followers, and Jeremy Robard, a shyster who promotes his "positive thinking" self-help guide every chance he gets. Both guests piss off Maurice Chavez for doing this, especially the latter (Maurice eventually punches him in the nose!).
Shout-Out: The game's chock full of them. Here are a few:
The game's biggest reference to Scarface aside from Expy Tommy Vercetti has got to be the lavish Diaz Mansion / Vercetti Estate, mirroring Tony's mansion in the film. The final mission, a shootout that takes place in it is pretty much a reenactment of the film's finale, except Tommy doesn't die.
There's a room labelled "Apartment 3C" where one can find a bloody bathroom and a chainsaw pickup, another Scarface reference.
Triggering a Vigilante Mission inside a Hunterattack helicopter changes the text prompt informing you that you've started a Vigilante Mission to an announcement saying Brown Thunder!
The missions wherein you have to impress Mitch Baker's biker gang to obtain their services as a security detail for a Love Fist concert may be a reference to the real-life Altamont Free Concert Incident.
This is the only GTA game outside the original Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto II wherein the AK-47 is absent, with the Ruger Mini-14 serving as replacement. This may as well be a reference to The A-Team, wherein the Ruger was the team's signature weapon. It could also be seen as a nod to the Miami FBI bank heist shoot out, set in 1986 just like Vice City, wherein one of the two robbers used that rifle to kill two FBI agents.
When you get to a 5-star wanted level, one of the police units that comes after you is a Cheetah driven by two guys in flashy pastel suits. Yup — Crockett and Tubbs. And you thought Vice City was just a name?
Stripperiffic: It's harder to find hookers in this game than any other GTA. They're there, but since this is both the 80's and South Florida, every young woman walking the streets looks like she's... walking the streets.
Super Drowning Skills: Vice City, based off of Miami, is a very tropical place. So, of course, it's surrounded by water. Not being able to swim really sucks. Especially since it gets in the way of being able to enjoy the ocean and the boats properly. The manual handwaves this as being the result of shark infestation, but this isn't shown in game.
Vice Street Racer's tagline is "Earn Cash, Not Kudos".
Teleporting Keycard Squad: There's a few missions where this will happen. In some particularly poorly planned ones, you can actually see them spawning.
Tempting Fate: The city is actually named "Vice City". Were they expecting it to become a Utopia? According to one of the designers, the name came from the pronunciation vee-kay city, as in, victory city. The C just evolved into a soft C. It's also more funny this way.
Too Slow: If you're too leisurely in chasing Diaz's traitorous employee on the rooftop, the youth will shout, "Too slow, grandad!" before leaping into his car.
Video Game Caring Potential: Several times when walking or driving by you may notice cops chasing perps who aren't you for once, and you can even help them catch the guy. Not only is it the only time you won't be penalized for punching someone in front of a cop, you'll even be rewarded for aiding them.
Wealthy Yacht Owner: Near the beginning the player attends a yacht party attended by Vice City's rich and famous.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: So, you've taken down that sleazeball Ricardo Diaz, avenged Lance's brother, gotten Tommy's money back, and taken over Diaz's coke empire? Great! Now you're ready for the second half of Vice City.