Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is now available in the New Zealand App Store, and it should be available later tonight in the US as the title continues worming its way around the globe. As you probably expected, this is a port of Vice City. Minus a few touch enhancements, this is the same game you played back in 2002 -- the same 80's-themed, open-world shooter you fell in love with as you cruised a color-infused Miami and jammed to Flock of Seagulls in a stolen car.

Vice City follows Tommy Vercetti, a mafia hitman and ex-convict. In the opening moments, Tommy finds himself in the middle of a drug deal gone bad. People die in a sneak attack, and Tommy loses both the money and drugs. The story revolves around Tommy trying to get the people responsible for setting him up. As the player, you'll meet a lot of horrible people, probably accidentally kill thousands more, steal a bunch of cars, and listen to some really neat music along the way.

The game's setting, Miami in 1986, is outrageously colorful. You'll see a lot of bright whites, blues, and pinks as you cruise the open-world city, either on a mission or just farting around causing trouble. Miami in Vice City isn't serious; its vibe is light and its people are ridiculous. This tone extends into the missions and writing. Even though a lot of bad things happen, you rarely feel weighed down.

On touch devices, you control Tommy with virtual buttons and a roving virtual stick. It isn't the best solution in the world, but it works OK. Punch, car jack, and sprint are presented on the right half of the screen. Movement is available on the left. When you jump into a car, the controls change. A two-button directional pad replaces the stick, and car-specific actions like hand brake pop up on the right.

We haven't noticed many notable mobile-specific features. Our gut says that the textures on the buildings in particular have been cleaned up a bit. Also, the frame rate seems a little bit smoother, maybe on par with the PC and Mac versions.

We've been playing on an iPad mini, and it runs perfectly. We tried it out on an iPhone 5, too, and got tricked into thinking it wasn't a native app because of the letterboxed opening cinematic. But the actual game supports widescreen.

In the TA Plays, Eli and I play through the opening of the game and the first mission, which should give you a taste of what to expect from the game as well as its characters and the writing. There's some salty language in there, so take that as a fair warning.

We're pretty happy with how Vice City turned out, which is similar to how we felt about Grand Theft Auto III's mobile treatment. We're going to spend a lot more time with this and get a review out to you in the near future. That said, you're probably going to dig this, especially if you dug GTA III on iPhone and iPad.

  • ltcommander_data

    How's the quality of the soundtrack? I've heard Rockstar is using even lower quality mp3's than GTA III Anniversary used. GTA III Anniversary had 96 kbps, 32 kHz mp3 while Vice City Anniversary is apparently using 64 kbps, 24 kHz mp3. That might be okay over the build-in device speakers, but how does it hold up using decent headphones?

    • bradnicholson

      Interesting question. I'm not sure. Without headphones, it sounds fine. At least, I didn't catch any weird audio burps or quality issues.

      • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

        I think music is fine, but the noises of weapons and cars are weird, just use a Paggio or a Chainsaw and you will hear that too.

      • http://www.facebook.com/opy.lopy.5 Opy Lopy

        i feel the same way

    • http://www.facebook.com/opy.lopy.5 Opy Lopy

      why dont u just stop being a nerd

  • Flare_TM

    You're out of touch! I'm out of time!
    Take...these broken wings...and learn to fly again!
    I said you wanna be starting something,you got to be starting something!
    Gold! Always believe in your sooouuul!
    When two tribes go to war, A point is all that you can score!
    She's just a girl who, dreamt that, iii am the one, Billie Jean!

    ...the soundtrack is worth the price of admission alone my friends!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaushal17 Kaushal Thakkar

    So r there gonna be cheats this time around. Gta 3 never got the cheats. Half the fun of the game is to get weapon cheats and just go crazy on people.

    • http://twitter.com/josh_hofer Josh Hofer

      Agreed 100%

  • killer006

    FarCry 2 is amazing! I already beat Farcry 3 haha. Thank you Eli for making this point!

  • http://twitter.com/BulkSlash BulkSlash

    The vehicle models are from the Xbox 1 version of the game so you get extra detail there as well. The best example is the back of the Infernus- the "round" rear lights are hexagons on the PS2/PC version whereas there's perfectly circular on iOS. Also, they've brought over the detailed hands from the Xbox version as well.

    The more advanced lighting from the Xbox version which included more realistic reflections, coloured lights casting a glow over things and the reflective rain drops appear to be missing but so far I've only played it on my iPad 3. It's possible the iPad 4 and iPhone 5 have these as extras.

    I've not got past the title screen on my iPhone 5 as I can't seem to get it to find my cloud save from the iPad. I don't want the same situation as GTAIII where I have two parallel games on the go. Anyone know what I might be doing wrong?

    • ltcommander_data

      One new Anniversary edition graphical exclusive seems to be full skeletal shadows for the main character. I believe previous PS2/PC/XBox versions all used blob shadows.

      Sorry I have no suggestion for your iCloud problems.

  • http://twitter.com/HamlinRacing Rayz

    It's a stealth bomb! Love it!

  • olio

    The link at the bottom show Modern Combat 4 for me.

    • http://profiles.google.com/fleshman1992 Laszlo Tuss

      Its just the trash:)

  • AbsolutePhenom

    Just beat it on my iPhone 5 in 9 hours and 21 minutes. This game rocks!

  • CherryPopsicles

    I really love the water graphics, and the sound the waves make is cool. It's a shame you can't swim though :/