Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was released in October 2002, just a year after the hit Grand Theft Auto III was released, and preceeded Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which was released two years later. It is the second 3D game in the Grand Theft Auto series and the second to use the RenderWare engine. It has sold worldwide, and was eventually made a Platinum game on the PlayStation 2, an honour reserved for games which sell over a million copies on that platform, and is still seen today as one of the greatest games on the PS2, and one of the greatest of all time.
It is set in the year 1986 in Vice City (based on Miami, Florida), following criminal Tommy Vercetti through a whole new series of missions. It follows a typical Grand Theft Auto "rags to riches" storyline, where the main protagonist starts as a nobody and works their way up to the top of the criminal hierarchy. Vice City is also used in the prequel, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories which is set in 1984.
 Story Overview
Related article: List of missions in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
The story starts on the east island of Vice City, whilst the west is blocked off due to a hurricane threat. Tommy Vercetti has just been released from prison in Liberty City after fifteen years inside for mass murder. Soon after his release, his old boss Sonny Forelli sends him over to Vice City to do some more dirty work for him, so he gets on a plane, where he and the other two men are met by lawyer Ken Rosenberg. Unfortunately, whilst he is doing a cocaine deal with the Vance brother, the group are ambushed, killing Victor Vance and the two men who arrived with Tommy. Lance Vance flies off in his helicopter, and Tommy and Ken escape in a car. A short while after, Sonny finds out that Tommy has lost all the money, but because they are old friends, Sonny gives Tommy a chance to get the money back. Tommy soon meets Lance in person and together they investigate the ambush and after building up many contacts throughout the city, they trace the problems to coke lord Ricardo Diaz. Together they work to become good friends with Diaz, and strike at the last moment to kill him and take control of his mansion. Tommy starts to build up an empire around the city and increases his status in the criminal underworld, and soon becomes one of the most rich and powerful criminals in the city. At the end of the storyline, Sonny sends some of his men over to Vice City to collect his money back, however Tommy doesn't stand for this and kills them. When this happens, Sonny comes over to deal with it himself, and Lance soon reveals that he has been working for him. Lance then tells Sonny that the three million dollars in the briefcases is in fact fake, and whilst Sonny's men begin to empty Tommy's safe for the real money, Tommy chases Lance to the roof of the mansion, where he kills him. He then re-enters the mansion and kills Sonny, and regains his money. He and Ken are then seen walking off and the credits roll, after which Tommy gets a phone call from some of his better friends in the city.
 Tommy Vercetti
Tommy Vercetti is an Italian American who has spent much of his life working for the Forelli family mafia. During one of his jobs in 1971, he was sent by Sonny Forelli to kill a man, but when they knew he was coming, he ended up killing eleven. He was caught by the police and later dubbed the Harwood Butcher (named after the district of Liberty City were the murders took place). After spending fifteen years in prison in Liberty City, he was sent over to Vice City to do a cocaine deal, which was ambushed; luckily, however, Tommy made a narrow escape. He makes several good friends in the city, along with several enemies, and with this he becomes one of the most rich and powerful criminals in the city, and becomes the owner of several asset properties and several non-asset properties. After this stage it is unknown what happens to him, however it is known that he is still alive in 1992, when Ken Rosenberg makes a call to him from outside Fort Carson Medical Center in the San Andreas Introduction DVD.
 Vice City
The game is set in 1986 in Vice City, based on Miami, Florida. The city is split up into two main islands, with two smaller ones in the middle. On the east is Vice Beach, made up mainly of residential areas, construction sites, a large golf club and beaches. In the middle is Starfish Island, which is home to the rich and (in)famous including coke lord Ricardo Diaz. North of this is Prawn Islands, which homes some run-down houses and a large film studio, and is controlled by the Streetwannabes. To the west is the life of Vice City; the downtown area, Little Haiti and Little Havana (which are controlled by immigrant gangs), Vice Port, Escobar International Airport and Fort Baxter Air Base.
The game features a wide range of characters, from the rich and powerful coke lord Ricardo Diaz to the corrupt lawyer Ken Rosenberg, and also features a large number of famous voice actors, including Ray Liotta, Tom Sizemore and Burt Reynolds just to name a few. This large cast of Hollywood celebrities made the game one of the most expensive video games ever in terms of voice actors. Along with a large new cast of characters, the game also features several returning characters from Grand Theft Auto III, including radio DJ Lazlow and arms dealer Phil Cassidy.
Vehicles and driving is a big part of the Grand Theft Auto series, so naturally there is a huge range of vehicles in the game. There is a much larger range of vehicles than there were in Grand Theft Auto III, including the Caddy (golf cart) and the PCJ-600 (motorbike). Perhaps the most noticeable additions to the game are motorbikes and helicopters, neither of which had appeared in Grand Theft Auto III.
Vice City inherited a similar weapons system to that of Grand Theft Auto III, but expanded into a larger range. There are thirty five unique weapons on the game, each of which can be put into one of several categories (hand-to-hand, melée, pistol, shotguns, sub-machine guns, rifles, heavy weapons, snipers, grenades and miscellaneous). Players can only carry one weapon from each category, and each weapon ranges in firepower, firing rate, accuracy and portability. For example, an SMG has a fast firing rate and relatively high capacity, but has low firepower and accuracy. Another example is a shotgun, which has a slow firing rate, and is very powerful, but only over short distances. The weapons play a big part in Vice City, and are a necessity for game completion.
The game featured a lot of popular real-life artists from the 1980s, from Michael Jackson to Iron Maiden, again making the game expensive to produce because of the music licenses required. Each radio station in the game covers a particular genre, ranging from rap through to rock. The radio stations and genres are as follows:
- Wildstyle - rap, hip-hop
- Flash FM - pop
- K-Chat - talk radio
- Fever 105 - soul, R&B
- V-Rock - heavy metal
- VCPR - public radio
- Espantoso - Latin jazz
- Emotion 98.3 - power ballads, rock
- Wave 103 - pop
 Game Launch
After the launch of the game in October 2002, it became one of the most famous games in the world, not scoring anything less than 90% from the major critics, and being dubbed as an almost perfect game by many. Nevertheless, as with every game in the Grand Theft Auto series, the game received bad words from some and has caused a lot of controversy.
Since the game was released, several concerns have been raised about it, claiming that it is the cause of some murders and other crimes:
- The game has become easily accessible to minors - some people claim that parents are allowing their children to play the game, and even going out specifically to buy it for them. In addition to this, it is also said that stores selling the game do not have strict enough policies and allow minors to get their hands on it too easily.
- Several lawsuits have also been made against the game, including two problems involving murder. One of these lawsuits was filed by Jack Thompson, who is renowned for his movement against the video game industry, claiming that games such as Grand Theft Auto are a major cause of problems in society.