Decisions, decisions. What does one do when faced with a such a privileged, consumerist predicament? Such as purchasing a remake smeared in perfunctory veneer that gives the impression of something refined, but ultimately winds up looking like someone has fired Homer Simpsons makeup gun at it? The remastered GTA trilogy couldn’t be more nostalgic for me if it came packaged with Power Rangers and Turkey Twizzlers. Nostalgia is an absurd affliction really. One that manifests as a powerful recollection of memories that can also contort those lucid, biased evocations. Like convincing you that the Chuckle Brothers were funny. When it comes to Vice City, a game that fully capitalises on that nostalgia, I’m not sure an updated version can live up to such wistful standards.
My appreciation for Vice City was somewhat tarnished when I attempted to play and subsequently rekindle some of that fading nostalgic whimsy a couple of years ago. With the antiquated controls being a harsh reminder of the game’s ageing mechanics. Not that the targeting system was anything methodical in the first place, but coalesced with the PS2 graphics and character’s awkwardly gesturing their hostile intent with boxing glove hands, does diminish the spectacle of a crime drama somewhat. But the setting, tone and character’s were as endearing as I remembered. So, if the new trilogy collection can renovate these deteriorating facets, which looks unlikely judging by what I’ve seen, while retaining the same vibe and aesthetic of the original, as well as populating the barren City with a few more low rendered pedestrians, then this might be an cash-grab remaster worth investing in. With the one notable caveat: the retention of the music.
My biggest concern is that licensing for the various 80’s tunes has lapsed, thus compromising the diverse, quintessential tracks that gave Vice City its arresting ambience. The soundtrack was such a salient representation for establishing the games tone, that if Rockstar is unable to retain the licensing I just don’t think the game can replicate that sense of nostalgic catharsis adequately without it. Even a condensed playlist would jeopardise the whimsy.
Chances are, if you never played the original game, you aren’t going to be bothered by a few, if notable omissions. But for those of us that experienced this, probably at an age you shouldn’t, I think any alteration to that original soundtrack is going to severely undermine your sentimentality.