To reiterate my point from the first LOVE LETTERS, there are always games you never forget playing for the first game. The most obvious would be the first game you ever played, the next, maybe, a game that first ever made you feel an emotional connection or maybe just a game you fell head-over-heels in love with. I, however, think there’s another game you never forget playing and that game is your first ever Grand Theft Auto game.
Think about it, before that most of us were used to linear platformers or mission-after-mission shooters. Most of us weren’t used to seemingly endless open worlds or incredible amounts of freedom. The first GTA game I ever played was Vice City on the PlayStation 2. I was just nearing towards secondary school at the humble age of around ten or eleven and I remember getting a phone call from a school buddy of mine. He told me that whilst at a car boot sale he convinced his grandmother to buy him the game.
This wasn’t the first time I had heard of GTA — hell, it wasn’t even the first time I had seen it been played. I remember being at my aunt’s house when my older cousins (you can probably tell at this point in the series that my older cousin was my main influence in video games) but this time was different. I was actually going to be playing the game. Needless to say, I was excited.
I remember feeling blown away by the sheer size of the game alone. It seemed to never end. I remember the first time I managed to hijack my first motorcycle and just driving around for what seemed like forever.
Now, I love the 80s and always have so Vice City was a game I seemed to just “connect” with. One of the things I really do not think gets enough credit with the game is the setting. Going for a Miami type feel really does make this game stand out from other entries in the series. No dark alleyways or endless amounts of tall, dark, ominous skyscrapers. It was always sunny, the beaches always seemed full, their clubs with big neon lights. It had glamour. Unlike being in Liberty City and San Andreas, you actually feel good about being in Vice City; for the most part, it seemed kind of…. welcoming?
Unlike what most people seem to do in GTA games, I actually do play the missions to the end and Vice City has some of the best. They’re entertaining, fun and at some points incredibly tense and hard. Expect to take multiple trips to the emergency room.
Another thing that I adore about GTA games (not just this one), is the humour. I can’t begin to think of the amount of times I actually laughed out loud at some the stuff in this game. It’s seriously hilarious. If you have the time just cruise around and listen to KChat or VRock on the radios. Lazlow, the DJ at VRock, gets tons of laughs and the call-ins on KChat have almost brought me to tears at some points.
If you ever played GTA at a young age you’ll know how grown up you felt playing those games. Hearing the drug and mafia talk just made it seemed like you were really grown up. I remember multiple accounts of walking in and my dad watching The Sopranos and just thinking I “got” it because of those games. Honestly though, what can I really say that hasn’t been said before? All the games are great and Vice City doesn’t fall short of that whatsoever.