Just over a decade ago at the spirited age of 15 (and I emphasis the word “just”), I received not only the most prestigious gift of my adolescence, but probably the most sufficient present of my tenure as a mature, responsible adult. No, not the sudden descending gravitation of my genitals, or the velocity of follicle endowment to the same area, but the ownership of a PS2. Not to mention an appropriate collaborator to accompany this distinguished acquisition, GTA Vice City. Of course technically I was too young legally to play the game, regulations that govern who can procure such titles were a little less stringent back then, and of course I had the opportunity to exploit my mothers ignorance. But its with a sudden realisation of sobering clarity, that I present my flirtatious digressions and confidently express that I will never be as excited about an another game, the way I was with Vice City. Hours of gratuitous play promptly morphed into days, days formed exponentially to weeks, extending my social ambiguity and reserved interactions with society, such was the engrossing allure of Vice Cities corrosive inhabitants. But it wasn’t until recently that I recalled these influential memories while on the PSN, and discovered to my surprise that the single most influential game of my life, is available for download.
I could almost hear the distant but distinct jovial squall of utter delight from my 15-year-old self when I discovered this valuable piece of information, and despite the lack of glossy definition polish and a deficiency of trophies, Vice City still retains the same addictive insanity that its subsequent successors failed to capture. There isn’t one defining characteristic that truly defines this game as the best in the series, it’s the collaborative yet contrasting elements that compliment each other superbly. The gradual accumulation of money and borderline embezzlement, the steady progression of your figurative empire, the acquisition of various businesses and enterprises, not so subtlety decapitating random pedestrians with a chainsaw, as well as the humbling of eventual betrayer, Lance Vance, and the addition of the other diverse array of characters that prompted many involuntary bouts of comical hysteria.
The neurotic lawyer Ken Rosenberg continually struggling to deal with his tempered clients as well as his own anxieties, the generously endowed porn star Candy Suxx, Burt Reynolds as the unequivocally suspect and certainly ethically challenged entrepreneur Avery Carrington, to probably one of the few times you’ll see the words “talented” and “Danny Dyer” coagulating appropriately into a sentence, with his honourable contributions to the creation of Kent Pauls obnoxious, but entertaining persona. The obtuse vibrancy somehow seemed to compliment the gravitas as well as the narcissistic tendencies the game was willing to exploit, with the diverse composite of vehicular transportation being equally important. Cars, Motorcycles, Boats, and the introduction of aviation were all viable and easy to exploit.
Vice City really demonstrated some of the most eclectic, hilarious and of course vehement formulated missions, devised by the arguably creators who needed deep, psychiatric assessment. Sure the characters represented here look square, and their extremities looked as though they suffered from terrible deformities (like the boxing glove hands), but it was one of those rare occasions where you would be content to sacrifice your accumulated progress, just so you could play it again. But its peculiar how after abstaining from a game for such an extended time, particularly with the strides in technical advancements, that I would still want to experience this depraved “civilisation” (though I use the term loosely). I still want to watch the interactions between characters, the riveting conversing between them, listen to the multitude of cheesy 80’s soundtrack, as well as the hilarious advertisements (anyone want to see a play about a dehydrating manatee?). Vice City effected me in a way few games can, even to the point of dictating my vacation to Miami, as I searched hurriedly to encapsulate the insanity perpetrated virtually and establishing a connection to the real world equivalent (though I stop short of clubbing prostitutes with a baseball bats, apparently that’s frowned upon). I even convinced myself that one of the more prosperous properties was the setting for the Vercetti mansion. But whatever my cognitive defaults, I can confidently express, without reservation, that I will never be as excited by another game again.
What is the most defining game you have played? Let me know your thoughts and suggestions.