I’ll never forget the first night I saw Grand Theft Auto III in action. We were working late at Blockbuster and some of my co-workers decided to hook up a rental PS2 to show me GTA. I was strictly an Xbox guy and hadn’t been following Playstation news all that much. The last time I’d seen GTA it was a top-down driving game that didn’t really do much for me. It took just a few minutes of GTA III to see what an amazing game I’d been missing out on.
I started following GTA a little closer and when it was announced that the next game would take place in the 1980’s, I was all about it. Thanks to The Wedding Singer a few years prior, I had 80’s fever and it hadn’t let up. The idea of playing three-dimensional game that took place in the 80’s was exciting enough for me to drive to EB Games the day Vice City was released and buy a Playstation 2 just to play it. (Vice City wouldn’t come out for Xbox until a year later.)
I drove the forty-five minutes to EB Games with my co-worker Richard. We had recently bonded over our love of 80’s music, which was quite uncommon in 2002. I remember specifically listening to Broken Wings on our drive back and once we reach his house, we popped the game into his PS2 and were greeted with Broken Wings playing in the first cut scene. It was an awesome moment that probably seems to small in today’s gaming world, but back then it was rare to even hear legit songs in cut scenes or anywhere in the game.
We played for an hour or two, but I knew all my progress would not be saved since I didn’t plug in my memory card. I anxiously wanted to get home, start over and play by myself, so Richard got a little pissed at me when I left with my new game and system, but it was the beginning of a love affair with a video game that I’ve played off and on every few months for almost twenty years.
There were so many things I loved about Vice City such as the open world, the 80’s décor, and the soundtrack. I loved the soundtrack so much, I actually bought a CD copy of my favorite station Emotion 98.3. Emotion included songs like Crockett’s Theme, Sister Christian, Africa, Keep On Loving You, Waiting for a Girl like You, and (I Just) Died In Your Arms. It was a brilliant station, hosted by the hilarious Fernando Martinez. You can listen to a Spotify version of the station nowadays.
Vice City introduced me to Miami Vice and Scarface, since I wasn’t overly familiar with either property until I played Vice City. It did a great job channeling that 80’s Miami vibe and got me interested in learning more about crime in the 1980s and the coke wars. Vice City also introduced me to my first major video game betrayal, which I never saw coming. It
Vice City is a game that just never gets old to me. I rarely play more than the first fourth of the game, but I’m constantly hammering out those first few missions and trying not to get frustrated with those horrible fighting controls.
Last night, I was in bed and needed something to do for a few minutes before falling asleep and so I booted up Vice City on my phone. Fifteen minutes later I was cruising through Vice City with a smile on my face.
I really hope the next GTA is set in Vice City, and I really hope it revisits the 1980’s. I’m not going to hold my breath, but it would really make my day if that happened.