Grand Theft Auto Double Pack Review
If you're an Xbox owner who either hasn't played these games or is looking to play them again, the Xbox versions of GTAIII and Vice City are the best ones available.
GTAIII places you in the role of a nameless, voiceless thug and takes place in a fictional metropolis known as Liberty City. Liberty City is a largely corrupt place, with several warring criminal factions spread throughout its boroughs. You're a small-time crook who gets set up by his girlfriend during a heist. You take the fall for the crime but manage to escape when a posse of thugs overtakes the paddy wagon that you, along with a few other prisoners, are traveling in. This is where you hook up with the demolitions expert known as 8-Ball, who takes you to meet a friend in the early portion of the game, which also serves as a tutorial of sorts to help you get acclimated to the rules of the world. That friend is involved with the Mafia, of course, and he gives you tasks of increasing difficulty. As you proceed by completing these tasks, you'll bounce from crime boss to crime boss and play on various sides of a war between organized-crime families.
In a stark contrast to GTAIII's dingy, New York-like setting, Vice City, based in Miami, has a much brighter and more colorful setting. The year is 1986, and Tommy Vercetti, who talks up a storm throughout the game, has just been released from prison after doing a 15-year stretch for the mob. The mob--more specifically, the Forelli family--appreciates Tommy's refusal to squeal in exchange for a lesser sentence, so they send him down to Vice City to establish some new operations. Tommy's first order of business in Vice City is to score a large amount of cocaine to work with. But Tommy's first drug deal goes sour, leaving him with no money, no cocaine, and no idea who wronged him. The mob is, of course, angry over the whole situation, and now Tommy has to make up for the loss before the gangsters come down from Liberty City to clean up the mess. As Tommy, you'll start the investigation, figure out who ripped you off, take care of business, and set up shop in Vice City in a big, big way. Oh, and you'll also purchase your own taxi company, get involved in a turf war between the Cubans and the Haitians, befriend a Scottish rock group named Love Fist, become a pizza delivery boy, smash up the local mall, demolish a building to lower real estate prices, hook up with a biker gang, run an adult film studio, take down a bank, and much, much more. By comparison, Vice City certainly has a lot more depth than its predecessor, though both games hold up very well.
The gameplay in the two games is nearly identical, though a few things were added to Vice City that made it even more dynamic. For example, in Vice City, you can shoot out the tires of cars or even just nail the car's driver in the head through the window of the car. Tommy Vercetti can also duck, though to be honest, this doesn't come in handy as often as Tommy's ability to dive out of moving vehicles. Vice City lets you enter certain buildings and also contains fun-to-drive motorcycles and mopeds, while GTAIII only contains cars and trucks for ground transport. GTAIII's weapon system lets you carry just about anything you want to, but Vice City breaks weapons up into classes, offering multiple types of assault rifles, submachine guns, and so on. But even with these differences, the games both boil down to the same sort of structured, mission-based plot advancement.
Graphically, there are a few better-looking games on the Xbox than these two games. The characters' faces aren't as defined as they could be, for example. But the game makes up for its few downfalls by maintaining a good frame rate while displaying a positively huge world. Vice City also ups the ante by offering tons of graphical style. From the costumes to the neon lights of the Vice City streets, the game really does justice to its exaggerated '80s theme. The car designs are well done, and, as previously mentioned, the cars break up in a very satisfying way. Above all, the visual style of the games really separates them from other similar products, and they work together with the music and sound to create a very atmospheric universe. The addition of 480p support cleans the game up even further, which is a good addition for owners of higher-end screens.
GTAIII and Vice City also do a fantastic job on the audio side of things. The city streets sound alive with traffic, and the sounds of your squealing tires, gunfire, and explosions all sound authentic. The game is playable in Dolby Digital 5.1, and the game uses surround effects a bit better than the PS2 installments did, though some of the mixing seems to be a bit off, as the radio sounds very quiet by default. Considering how much the radio adds to the game, it's worth it to pump the music all the way up. The game also has support for custom soundtracks.
A cavalcade of star voice talent appears in both games, including Frank Vincent, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Madsen, and Kyle MacLachlan in GTAIII and Ray Liotta, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds, Luis Guzman, and Phillip Michael Thomas in Vice City. The game contains stars, but it doesn't lean on their familiar voices for a cheap thrill. All the voice acting in the game is top-notch, and the script they're working with is a fantastic one that manages to maintain a dark sense of humor while still delivering the gritty crime themes that you'd expect from a game about being all the criminal that you can be.
The music is another story entirely. Music is worked into the game by way of your car radio. You'll be spending a lot of time in vehicles, and there are a lot of different radio stations to choose from. The GTA series has always done this, but GTAIII takes it to a new extreme, mainly by adding a hilarious talk-radio station to the mix. Other stations play rap, licensed from Game Records, and the soundtrack to the movie Scarface. Vice City takes this concept one step further and tosses a ton of great '80s music onto its radio stations. Two talk-radio stations can be found here, though they aren't quite as laugh-out-loud funny as Chatterbox was in GTAIII. The acts in Vice City include Quiet Riot, Michael Jackson, David Lee Roth, Herbie Hancock, Judas Priest, Human League, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Lots of different genres are represented, and the music really plays a key role in making the '80s atmosphere very, very thick.
While these two games are one and two years old, respectively, they hold up extremely well. They're also unique due to the fact that there simply isn't anything else quite like Grand Theft Auto on the Xbox. Sure, other recent releases have attempted to duplicate specific portions of the GTA formula, but the real deal is still far better than any of the pretenders to follow in its wake. If you're an Xbox owner who either hasn't played these games or is looking to play them again, the Xbox versions of GTAIII and Vice City are the best ones available, and they're just as amazing now as they were when they were first released on the PlayStation 2.
- Player Reviews: 136
- Game Universe:
- Grand Theft Auto 2 (PS, PC, DC, GBC),
- Grand Theft Auto III (XBOX, PS2, PC, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto Double Pack (XBOX, PS2),
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2, PC, XBOX, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, PC, XBOX, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969 (PS, PC),
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PSP, PS2),
- Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, X360, PC),
- Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy (PS2, XBOX, MAC),
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2, PSP)
- Number of Players: