Sonny Forelli — a mob boss who is trying to crush Tommy's fledgling empire, or somebody who is justifiably concerned with the fact that a made man in his organization has built a criminal empire for himself in South Florida and is now openly defying his authority?
Tommy Vercetti — is he a smart entrepreneur who managed to live out the American Dream, or a jerkass thug who bought out the city and betrayed the men that he had sworn an oath to in the name of personal gain?
Examination of the motives of Sonny Forelli and Tommy Vercetti can easily turn them into, respectively, an Anti-Villain and a Villain Protagonist. Sonny sent Tommy down to Vice City to make a drug deal, and when it goes wrong, Tommy tells him that he will recover the money and the coke for him. However, Tommy then stabs him in the back by creating his own criminal empire in South Florida and keeping everything for himself. Sonny had every right to do what he did to Tommy and his business.
It is heavily implied in the dialogue between the two in the final mission that Sonny set up the drug deal to go wrong deliberately and did not intend for him to survive. It is also implied that Sonny had also set up the incident that landed Tommy in jail several years prior. This is supported by the cutscene straight after the drug deal goes wrong: Sonny phones Tommy and on the table he's sitting at are both the coke and the money, indicating he sold Tommy out from the start and simply used him to build an empire he thought he could take over after having Lance bump off Tommy. Fortunately for the player, it doesn't go down that way...
Lance Vance — a jerkass who betrayed Vercetti simply because he was a greedy bastard? Or, perhaps, his tragic life and drug use made him feel compelled to betray his comrade, with Tommy dressing him down publicly before "Bar Brawl" and giving a Backhanded Apology afterwards not helping matters?
Badass Decay: Lance Vance gradually becomes less chill and more Wangsty the more he appears in the game.
Best Level Ever: Vice City actually had many of these, "Publicity Tour", if not for the actual mission, then for the dialogue.
The actual mission arguably counts as well. Basically, you're escorting the band Love Fist to their concert, but their crazed stalker rigged the limo to blow up if you drive below a certain Speed. So you're driving through town like a maniac, avoiding traffic and sliding in the rain (it's always dark and raining during this mission to conceal the game's graphical limitations: everyone in the car is technically sitting still) until the band figures out how to disarm the bomb. Definitely one of the more different GTA missions.
The fast-paced "Phnom Penh '86". In a total reminiscence of Vietnam-era aerial raids, you team up with Lance and fly in a helicopter to a drug gang's stronghold of three mansions, and while Lance drives the helicopter you fire an M60 machine gun at gangsters which continue to appear from the mansions corridors, terraces and backyards, you eradicate them.note Diaz' request in the mission introductory cutscene. Also note that the mission's name is actually the capital of Cambodia, rounding off the "jungle war" theme. Bonus if played while playing Radio Espantoso's tropical music.
"Bombs Away!" arguably fills, you remote-control a RC toy plane carrying homemade bombs to sink escaping Cuban boats all while Cubans shoot at your plane. This is the GTA series' introduction to an aeronaval styled combat.
Hell, any RC mission can qualify (note that curiously they always feature carrying bombs...)
In "All Hands On Deck!" you again engage in aeronaval combat, you must protect Colonel Cortez in his way out of Vice City, which results in fighting in his yacht against a group of armed French agents which come aboard attacking from boats, helicopters and forming a boat's barricade to block Colonel Cortez's way out. Eventually a Hunter helicopter comes firing all over the yacht, and you must take it out.
Probably the most cool and badass mission in the entire game, "The Job", where you, Phil Cassidy, Cam Jones and Hilary King rob the Vice City's El Banco Corrupto Grante. The SWAT storming into the bank later makes it even more epic. This is the kind of mission that paved the way for Grand Theft Auto V's heist missions.
No love for the final mission, "Keep Your Friends Close..."? You know, the one that is a total Shout-Out to the finale of Scarface (1983)?
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Apartment 3C, which is an eerie shout out to Scarface 1983, and not only it's unmarked, it has no significance to the plot or everything whatsoever.
Even Better Sequel: While GTA 3 was already revolutionary when it came out, this game cranked everything Up to Eleven; A larger map, controllable helicopters and planes, more weapons, a more colorful setting, actual 80's music and a more coherent plot.
Evil Is Cool: Tommy Vercetti, who else? He is one of the few GTA protagonists who does't mind committing crimes, knows exactly what to do at almost any given moment, and doesn't let anyone stand on his way.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Phil Cassidy accidentally getting his arm blown off can be this for some, who are quite aware of his voice actor, Gary Busey's motorcycle accident that currently leaves him with severe brain damage.
The minigame "Cone Crazy" is a driving challenge that rewards you $200 the first time you complete it, then it rewards you double the highest reward you got every time you beat your best time. In other words, the money output grows exponentially. The first time you beat your high score, you'll get $400, second time $800, third $1600 and so on. This means if you intentionally go very slowly on your first try and then just barely beat your best time each time after that, you'll stack a lot of money fast. As this speedrunner demonstrates, it is an effective strategy for overcoming the Cash Gates later on in the game.
The free aim on the PC port turns the assault rifles, M-60, minigun, and the SPAS-12 Auto-Shotgun into this. With the clunky analog stick aiming substituted for mouse aiming, you can hit enemies at sniper distances, without recoil, with ease. It also makes shooting drivers out of their cars and popping tires a breeze.
The helicopter is this for missions. As soon as you can access one, you can bypass a lot of problems that were specifically set up to hound people in cars. With the exception of missions that force you into vehicles, taking a helicopter is always a better choice than driving. The Hunter helicopter also enables Vigilante missions to be done by Death from Above, making it very easy to amass a millionaire fortune.
Good Bad Bugs: In rare instances, a glitch may occur within your save file that gives you unlimited ammo for this gun, which can make breezing through enemy laden levels a cakewalk.
The SPAS-12 Auto-Shotgun is no slouch either; It is able to empty its 7-round magazine in just over 1000 miliseconds allowing one to mow down a group of people, or detonate a non-bullet-proof car in one magazine or even less. It isn't as versatile as the aforementioned riffle-class weapons, but damn is it still deadly.
Genre Turning Point: Before Vice City, music in video games was limited either to original tracks or from very obscure artists. Even Grand Theft Auto III was mostly made up of new songs for the game. After III's success, the Houser Brothers believed they could still make money while populating their game with a vast amount of licensed tracks. They used their contacts in the music industry to put together a tracklist of some of the biggest pop/rock music from The '80s. To this day, it's still regarded as one of the best soundtracks in gaming history and played a huge part in establishing the game's atmosphere. Afterwards, the number of video games using licensed music for their soundtracks jumped up.
Most Wonderful Sound: That smooth, smooth synth piece that plays whenever you successfully complete a mission.
The Scrappy: Hilary also counts as this, not just for being a pain in the ass to recruit, but ultimately failing in his mission by getting killed mere minutes into the heist and rendering his tedious level completely pointless.
Scrappy Mechanic: The police spawning. In an effort to correct III's laughably easy to avoid police (once you got used to the game's quirks), they overdid it. It's next to impossible to lose even a two-star wanted level without going to a Pay 'N' Spray. This is because once you hit two stars, the cops continually spawn everywhere. No matter how far away you get from those following you, no matter how inconceivably remote of an area you attempto hide in, they will show up. Also, see the supercop glitch. SA and onward adjusted this, but it's still really hard to get away from even a two star level until IV.
This scrappy mechanic eventually returned in GTA V and even worse as you can no longer use Pay 'N' Spray to evade the cops.
The race against Hilary. You have to race him in a BMW E28 expy sedan while he uses a special version of the Chevelle expy Sabre muscle car. You can't steal a better car, assuming you could even find one, because the sedan is mission-critical. Even if it weren't, in the time it takes to stop your sedan and jack another vehicle, Hilary will either catch up to you and pull ahead (if you're fortunate enough to be in the lead) or put even more distance between the two of you. The VCPD try to arrest you, and only you, for street racing. Assuming you get ahead (or fall behind), Hilary actually drives even better because game mechanics only spawn NPC traffic in relation to your car (the road is functionally empty from his POV). Finally, there's a glitch on the bridge near the end of the track which can cause you to clip through and fall to your death. This one mission has singlehandedly spawned countless pages of text on Game FAQS consisting of nothing but every method and theory in the world to win it.
At the very least in the PC version you can change the handling.cfg so Sentinel will have the performance of a Hotring Racer or sports cars.
Right after you off Diaz and become the new boss, you have to go to the mall to smash store windows. The clock is set to five minutes... starting from your house! For reference, the mall is at the back end of the first island, and you start from the center island. A good driver with a fast car (which the house will provide) can get there within 1-2 minutes, leaving three minutes to kill everything in sight, but if you get bogged down you fail. There's a helicopter on the roof that can get you there even faster, but there's a chance that won't spawn, forcing some Save Scumming to get it.
"Death Row", which is easily the most hated mission next to racing Hilary. To explain, you now know that Diaz is the one that messed up your deal at the beginning of the game. Tommy is content to wait it out, but Lance, like an idiot, jumps the gun and gets himself captured. You have to rescue him before he's beaten to death. You have to do this starting at the Malibu, while Lance is being held at the dump on the other side of the map. His remaining health is your timer, and starts right away. Sounds annoying yet? Good, because it gets worse. The dump is barricaded by mooks armed with automatic rifles and high-powered machine guns which will chew through even an armored Tommy or a helicopter if you do a flyover. They're positioned high up on cover to make killing them harder and more time-consuming. Once you rescue Lance, you have to get him to the hospital, which is when three sports cars with goons decide to chase you down. If you blow them up, a fourth comes along. It also respawns (albeit slowly). On top of all of that, there's literally no reward. You don't get paid jack for one of the hardest missions in the game. Perhaps to make up for it, the next mission gives you the most powerful assault rifle in the game and is practically a cakewalk unless you're criminally incompetent.
Well, the mooks do drop a nice amount of cash, so you do get some green for this mission.
The one wear you dress up as cops and set up explosives at the mall. You can only drive to the mission in a standard cop car, with all other traffic in the area also being cop cars, and RIGHT after you set the explosives off, and despite wearing cop uniforms you IMMEDIATELY gain a five star wanted level and everyone zeroes in on you, somehow. Since you presumably don't have a regular car and the Pay 'N' Spray won't take a cop car, the point of the mission is to get back to the mansion from the other side of the island with a near full wanted level and survive. It's incredibly tough to do even in a fast, tough cop car. Did we mention this mission is only at the halfway point of the story mode? Adding to the frustration is that you need to keep Lance from getting killed, and he's relatively easy for the cops to kill. If all you needed to do was get yourself to safety, it would be significantly easier.
One of the exploits to the mission is to manage to steal an FBI Rancher (which is possible, if not also fairly difficult) at the mall. The Pay 'N' Spray doesn't recognize it as a police vehicle and will "respray" it (it actually doesn't change colors), which will nullify your wanted level. The other is of course to try to steal a civilian car on the way to the mansion and then hit a Pay 'N' Spray. This is also incredibly difficult, as VC is a near ghost town during the chase (presumably this was done on purpose) and getting out of the cop car into another one with a ton of cops right on you without you or Vance dying or getting your tires shredded before you even get the car moving is also really hard. Another option is to get a high wanted level prior to the mission to the point where cops come after you in VCPD Cheetahs, steal one of those, and have it ready. The game recognizes that as a cop car and the Pay 'N' Spray will respray that. (Of course, in real life it would probably raise a few eyebrows why uniformed cops are driving around in an unmarked car, but in this case it's best not to look a gift horse in the mouth.)
And of course you can try to steal a helicopter from the scene also, but taking off before the helo takes too much damage is essentially luck, and then you have to avoid air-to-air fire all the way back to the mansion, and THEN get to the save circle from wherever you manage to land. Of course, if you're really good with flying, its a great opportunity to get a helo early by landing it on your helipad and then rushing to the save circle before you're shredded by the cops (who will spawn right at the mansion, no matter how far ahead you flew of them).
The RC helicopter side mission. Remember when you blew up that building? Good. Because this mission is a slap in the face to that. The helicopter, in complete defiance of the perfectly manageable one you flew before, is so damn sensitive that you'll literally do flips if you press a directional key. Not press and hold, just press. At least it's a checkpoint mission and the time limit doesn't affect 100% Completion.
Melee weapon rampage events. Targets tend to appear in groups, and being gang members they are armed. Sometimes with guns. This is especially bad with the chainsaw, since you can't run while they can.
The Untwist: It's pretty obvious after the first mission that Ricardo Diaz was behind the attack on the drug deal at the beginning of the game. In his first appearance, he tells Cortez there are "barbarians at the gates" who are trying to muscle in on his business, and Mercedes even describes him as Vice City's coke baron. In fact, it's so obvious that there's no real reveal; Tommy and Lance just casually mention that they figured it out and implicitly did so when they started working for him, if not before.