Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Review

By , on December 10, 2012

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Download on the AppStore
5 out of 5


  • Updated visuals add just the right amount of polish; less blurring, sharper textures and brighter lighting give the world a juicy retro feel.
  • Still the same Vice City full of crass, over-the-top excesses, motorbikes, boats and helicopters.
  • Fun missions full of variety; smaller town makes for a better paced game.


  • Despite control customization options, the game still tries to cram too much on to the screen; confusion, errors, and occasionally outright failures can bring the mood down.
  • Vehicle pop-in distance still far too low; driving is a haphazard nightmare.


It's hard to say no to Vice City and it's even harder when it looks and almost feels as great as it did 10 years ago; just be prepared to learn some new tricks to deal with the virtual control system.

  • Full Review
  • App Store Info

For those of you out there who are fans of Vice City and used to the quirks of iOS gaming (that is to say, touch-based gaming controls) then I can get you in and out of this review fairly quickly: 'It's everything you loved about the original, but with less adequate - though still useable - controls'. Also it's gorgeous.'

For everyone else, lets dig a little deeper.

Rockstar Games' second third-person foray in their Grand Theft Auto series is still regarded an all-time classic, even despite the slow loading and somewhat buggy implementation on some consoles and the PC at the time. Set on the sunny shores of a fictionalized Miami (the eponymously named Vice City), you're put in control of Tommy, a made man who is sent to cause havoc and potentially expand the family's business interests while also taking out the competition.

You start life on the East side of the river, unlocking the West side after completing enough story missions, and eventually score yourself a mansion to base your operations. It's a life of excess that's perfectly matched by the 80s-era setting, with streets full of bright pastels, neon lights, and plenty of fast cars, motorcycles, boats, and yes, helicopters.

Although the game area you're given is fairly small, it allows for a faster paced storyline and reduces the frustration of the ever-present collection based missions.

All-in-all, Vice City was a wonderful title and one that's even better now thanks to visual tweaks to sharpen up the textures, models and lighting. It really is a gorgeous game to play, whether on a smaller iPhone or the larger iPad - better still you'll be able to swap between the two with ease thanks to iCloud-based save slots.

However, as touched on in the beginning, there's a caveat - the quirks of the controls raise their ugly head early on and while practice can bring familiarity, it doesn't fix some of the more egregious errors such as the combat controls being sticky and at times entirely unresponsive. Also, hitting the 'leave car' button instead of the 'handbrake' button can be a deadly mistake followed by a possible mission reset.

Thankfully the incredibly polished core of the game remains steadfast and addictive enough in its charms to make this more of a frustrating quibble than a game-breaking one.

If you loved Vice City the first time around or feel you missed out on the hype, grab this copy and watch your week disappear.


Screenshot 1 of 8 Screenshot 2 of 8 Screenshot 3 of 8 Screenshot 4 of 8 Screenshot 5 of 8 Screenshot 6 of 8 Screenshot 7 of 8 Screenshot 8 of 8