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Video Game / Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

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Due to the nature of being a prequel to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, expect Late Arrival Spoilers for that game as Vice City Stories ends in a Foregone Conclusion. You Have Been Warned!

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, released in 2006, is the tenth installment in the Grand Theft Auto series. Like Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, this game took a new plot to the same setting as a previous Grand Theft Auto game. But it avoids being a Mission-Pack Sequel to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 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.

The plot is stocked with a lot of Dramatic Irony, 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 Forwards and Continuity Nods to the other games in the 3D era. It would also be the last game in the series to be set in Vice City until Grand Theft Auto VI nearly 20 years later.

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:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Marty, in addition to be being a domestic abuser to his wife Louise, at one point even threatens to beat down on their infant daughter for crying too much!
    • Vic and Lance’s mother, Janet, is a crackhead who neglected her children, which eventually led to them living with their Aunt Enid. After briefly reuniting with the brothers she eventually steals all of their drugs and disappears.
  • Almighty Janitor: The Big Bad Jerry Martinez is officially only a sergeant in the army but is effectively one of the major crime lords of Vice City.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • There are checkpoints in sub-missions. Every five levels completed gives the player a checkpoint, meaning they can start at that level again if they fail it, instead of the very beginning.
    • Once you unlock the Empire missions, failing a mission for that business will put you back at the level you were at.
    • If you get busted or wasted, you can pay $2,000 to buy back your weapons.
  • Anti-Hero: Victor Vance is one even more so than CJ from San Andreas. He doesn’t even want to be part of the criminal world at first, instead earning money legitimately by enlisting in the army, and only gets roped into it after being manipulated and betrayed by Martinez. One of his primary motivations is to get money to provide for his sick brother Pete.
  • As Himself: Phil Collins appears in a few missions, complete with an in-game performance of "In The Air Tonight".
  • The Berserker: When a Mendez cartel member blows up Lance's Infernus in "Light my Pyre", he goes completely ballistic and rushes straight to Prawn Island without a care whether he gets shot or not, and later charges at the Mendez mansion through a hail of automatic gunfire in order to kill Armando. This fails as he gets knocked out next to a dying Louise.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Vic manages to get his revenge and kill both Martinez and the Mendez brothers but not only did he lose the one he cares so much about, but his entire business as well due to being forced to lay low.
  • Book Ends: The penultimate mission has you break into the same army base where you were stationed at the very beginning of the game to steal a Hunter military helicopter.
  • Broken Bridge: 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 of the map.
  • The Cameo: Phil Collins appears as a supporting character in some missions given by Reni Wassulmaier. Collins was the first real life celebrity to appear as a character in the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
  • Camp Gay:
    • Reni Wassulmaier. At least until he becomes a she.
    • The White Stallionz, despite being a white supremacist group, has shades of this. In the mission where they are introduced, two members are dancing together to 70s disco.
  • The Cartel: The Mendez Cartel is the main group of antagonists in the game. After the cartel's demise at the hands of Victor, Diaz's gang seized control of the drug trade in the city.
  • Caught Up in a Robbery: In the mission The Audition, Vic and Lance get caught in a robbery by a group of armed robbers in a King Knuts restaurant. Vic can kill the robbers to save himself and Lance, however, the cops mistakenly believe the brothers were the accomplices of the robbers.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: In the last mission, Lance arrives in a helicopter to help Vic to kill both Diego and Martinez, however, the battle has already ended with the deaths of the latter two.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Phil Cassidy was shown in GTA Vice City as a level-headed person, although he become hilariously Too Dumb to Live when he drunk. Turns out that in Vice City Stories, it is shown that he lost his sister, turning him into a drunk at times.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The pastel tone and bright lights of the night-time of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City are carried over, but Mood Dissonance and Vile Villain, Saccharine Show are in full effect. Vic starts the game being betrayed by his corrupt higher-up in the military, loses several of the people closest to them, and despite building an underworld "empire" in the name of vengeance, is forced to leave them all in the end to erase all his (along with his brother's) criminal traces in Vice City.
  • Collection Sidequest: There are 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.
  • Concert Climax: One of the last missions, "In The Air Tonight", involves Vic working as security during a Phil Collins concert, as the Forelli family tries to sabotage it. It's notable because Phil Collins can be heard singing the same-titled song on the background, and the scenes of Vic fighting the Forelli thugs are juggles with scenes where Phil Collins is shown performing. Overall, it ends up becoming one of the most memorable moments in the GTA franchise.
  • Conflict Killer: Sgt. Martinez is an annoying example, where he interrupts the plot near the end, thinking that the player is the same nobody he pushed around in the beginning, despite the player at this point having taken out Martinez's bosses, and can buy and sell his entire racket millions of times over..
  • Creator's Culture Carryover: 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.
  • Dark Action Girl: During Unfriendly Competition, Vic must deal with a group of armed women in bikinis when he tries to kill one of the dealers for the Mendez brothers. To make things worse, they can even operate a helicopter during the chase segment.
  • Depraved Homosexual: The game briefly features a small biker gang called the White Stallionz that is composed of gay white supremacists. Vic and Lance end up destroying the entire gang.
  • Dirty Cop: Bryan Forbes, who is so bent that it would be more accurate to say he's a criminal who goes undercover as a cop.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Marty Jay Williams the leader of the Trailer Park Mafia. Killing him is what unlocks the Empire Building mechanics for the game.
  • The Ditz: Lance, which, of course, isn't helped by the fact that he constantly puts Vic through hell throughout the story due to his incompetence.
  • Doomed by Canon: Vic is the first playable protagonist in the series to die, which comes during the intro of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
  • Dual Boss: Sgt. Martinez and Diego Mendez are both fought alongside each other for the final fight.
  • Easy Level Trick: "Hose the Hoes" has you stealing a Firetruck in Little Haiti before you rescue the prostitutes trapped in a fire. However, this mission can be made a lot easier by stealing a firetruck beforehand and then starting the mission.
  • Easy Sex Change: Reni, the German film director who has had three sex changes in the past. And eventually has a fourth during his/her final mission.
  • '80s Hair: Louise, which is even more clearly this in the art work.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: 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.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: The mission "Brawn of the Dead", which has you acting as a stuntman in a zombie movie that is an obvious Shout-Out to Dawn of the Dead (1978).
  • Fallen Hero: By game's end, Vic is a far cry from the straight-laced soldier he was at the beginning of the story.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jerry Martinez and Armando Mendez both act in a overly friendly manner towards Victor even as they are blatantly manipulating him for their own ends and both eventually decide to discard of Victor when they have no further use for him.
  • Flanderization: Lance is even more immature, whiny, self-centered and irrational. Not to mention, he is an even bigger attention hog than he was in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and that's saying something (given how already unlikeable he was during his debut).
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Vic is the level-headed responsible brother while Lance is the coked-up foolish one who is constantly getting the pair of them into trouble.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Vic starts out as a newly enlisted ensign in the army. After he is set up for a number of infractions by his CO and discharged, he turns to crime to support his family and ends up running a major criminal empire with his brother.
  • Fur and Loathing: 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 Screens). 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).
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: 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.
  • Gangbangers: The Cholos, as stated by Phil Cassidy as "bunch of Mexican gang-bangers".
  • Grand Finale: Of the 3D era. While San Andreas was the final major GTA in the 3D era, this one is the last one period. Which is funny, since it's the first one in a chronological sense.
  • Hello, Sailor!: 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." This line itself is an Ironic Echo of a line from main antagonist Jerry Martinez earlier in the game ("this is the army, not the navy").
  • Hide Your Children: Averted for the first time in the series with Mary-Beth, Louise's baby, who appears in several cutscenes.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: In this game, the Bikers used to own several illegal businesses across Vice City, however, most of them are taken over by Vic and his gang, reducing their influence to a bar in Downtown. This also applies to the Sharks, they used to own several illegal business in most parts of the Vice Beach, but two years later, their territories are reduced to the Prawn Island and the northern part of Vice Point.
  • Incompatible Orientation: In one humorous cutscene Umberto repeatedly tries to flirt with a female welfare collector who dryly tells him that she’s a lesbian in a committed relationship.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Vic can't climb (unless it's up to shore out of water), even after San Andreas averted this.
  • Jerkass:
    • Marty Jay Williams is a racist and misogynistic asshole who is also verbally and physically abusive to his wife Louise.
    • Martinez, a buffoonish clown who repeatedly mocks and insults Victor while sending him to do his dirty work before eventually betraying him twice.
    • The Mendez Brothers as well, especially Armando who makes a big show of acting friendly, in a very smug, passive-aggressive manner towards Vic in almost conversation with him.
  • The Load: Lance... even moreso than he was in Vice City. See The Millstone as well.
  • MacGuffin Escort Mission: Don't let them "Kill Phil"!
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Vic briefly thinks that Louise and Lance are having an affair after he catches them alone together at Lance’s apartment. They were actually both getting high off the Mendez’s supply of coke. Vic thinks this is even worse.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Umberto Robina helps you to defend your businesses 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.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Louise's fur coat is pink, and before that, her exercise clothes were part pink.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • The White Stallionz, an all-gay, white supremacist biker gang that tries to rape and kill the dark skinned Vance brothers.
    • Marty Jay Williams is a misogynist hick who almost made his own wife one of his prostitutes.
  • Prequel: Not only is this a prequel to Vice City, it's chronologically the first game in the Grand Theft Auto III continuity. It takes place 17 years prior to the events of the original GTA III, which is the last game in the series in terms of chronology.
  • Profane Last Words: During the final mission, Diego Mendez tells Martinez "Vete a la mierda", which literally means in Spanish "go to the shit". Since Victor kills both of them immediately afterwards without a chance to say anything else, those end up being Mendez's last words.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Lance Vance. Despite being a grown man, he's terribly immature, is as insecure as a teenager, and is prone to take vengeance on any slight he suffers.
  • Rags to Riches: After getting kicked out of the army, Vic is virtually broke, and only has a place to stay because he helped Phil Cassidy clear out Phil's old place of gang members. At the end of the game, Vic is the leader of a massive criminal empire with countless operations all over Vice City, not to mention some pretty sweet living spaces.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: During the final mission, Vic assaults the Mendez building with a Hunter helicopter and murders both Diego and Martinez in revenge for Louise’s death at Armando’s hands.
  • Running Gag: Some missions involving Lance usually end with Lance riding a vehicle alone and without even bothering to offer Vic to ride with him, much to the latter's chagrin. This is Played for Laughs, because most of these usually happen right before the "Mission Passed" screen appear.
  • Scenery Porn: Vice City at dusk. The neon is all lit up, and the sky is painted in glorious shades of orange and red.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • The Fort Baxter is depicted as an army base for the United States National Guard in this game. However, in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, it belongs to the United States Air Force Reserves.
    • There is a small road that connects Little Havana to the Escobar International Airport. However, the same road is absent in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
    • There is a VIP terminal located in the western part of the Escobar International Airport, it is used in the first mission in the game. However, like the aforementioned road, the building is absent in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
    • The Enforcer uses black and white colors, as it did in Liberty City Stories instead of the evergreen and white colors it used in Vice City.
  • Shout-Out: All on this page.
  • Show Within a Show: 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.
  • The Syndicate: The Vance Crime Family is this, being organized criminals split into two groups.
    • When Vic runs a legal businesses, they will be crewed by low-end White Gangbangers wearing tracksuits and wifebeaters, and are only armed with baseball bats and pistols.
    • When Vic runs an illegal business, they will be crewed by goons wearing either a T-Shirt (bald Caucasian) or a suit (Blacks with a stocky build), and are better armed compared to their gangster variants (carrying either an AK-47 or a MAC-10).
  • A Taste of Power: For the first two and a half missions, you have easy access to a pistol spawn at the barracks and can appropriate assault rifles from your fellow soldiers. However, you are relieved of your firearms after Vic is dishonorably discharged and can't get them back.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: 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 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 Curb-Stomp Battle. You can just walk through the onslaught of flames and beat him with your bare fists if you so desire.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lance, good God, Lance! If you felt bad about killing him in Vice City, this game will rapidly change your mind.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Vice City is by no means a pleasant place despite its colorful exterior, but Sgt. Martinez and the Mendez Brothers are some of the most-menacing antagonists in the story, let alone the franchise.
  • White Gangbangers: In addition to the Street Wannabes (now named Sharks), it introduces other white gangsters in the form of Marty's Gang, known as the Trailer Park Mafia, whose turf is at Vice City's trailer park. Once Victor wipes them out, they will be succeeded by the Gangbanger branch of the Vance Crime Family (consisting exclusively of whites).
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: 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. Although once you take over every single Empire Building in the town, the gang attacks will stop and you can explore the city without worrying about the other gangs.