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Like Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories, this game took a new plot to the same setting as a previous Grand Theft Auto game. But it avoids being a Mission Pack Sequel to Grand Theft Auto Vice City by including a lot of its own elements, such as improved gameplay, mission elements and the ability to swim. Some of the side missions now have continue points, for one. Like LCS, it was originally a PSP exclusive, but was later ported to Play Station 2.
It also dumps loads of Irony into the plot, not just because you're playing a character who dies in a later game, but also in situations in this game itself. Just don't expect a happy ending here.
This game is set in 1984, two years before Vice City, and follows Victor "Vic" Vance, a former soldier who is dishonorably discharged after his corrupt commanding officer, Sgt. Jerry Martinez, pays him to shelter drugs and a prostitute on base -- both of which are discovered. The rest of the game is about him getting revenge on Martinez, who is part of a powerful drug cartel, as well as (reluctantly) building a criminal empire with his brother Lance.
Distinct tropes of this game:
- As Himself: Phil Collins.
- Bald of Awesome: Vic has a shaved head. Depending on how you play, this can also be Bald of Evil.
- Broken Bridge: As in Vice City, the bridges are closed at the start due to a hurricane warning.
- Camp Gay: Reni Wassulmaier. At least until he becomes a she.
- Collection Sidequest: There are 99 red balloons scattered around Vice City. Some of them are hard to miss, but quite a few of them are up high and require a sniper rifle (and in a few cases, a helicopter) to reach. It's well worth popping them all, as you gradually unlock valuable weapons and equipment at Vic's safehouses - having this gear available for free saves you thousands of dollars.
- Conflict Killer: Sgt. Martinez.
- Deep South: Marty Jay Williams and his Trailer Park Mafia personify this trope.
- Depraved Homosexual: The game briefly features a small biker gang called the White Stallionz that is composed of gay white supremacists. Vic destroys the entire gang.
- Dirty Cop: Bryan Forbes, who is so bent that it would be more accurate to say he's a criminal who goes undercover as a cop.
- Doomed by Canon: Vic is the only playable protagonist in the series to die, which comes during the intro of Grand Theft Auto Vice City.
- Dual Boss: Sgt. Martinez and Diego Mendez.
- The Eighties: Much like the original Vice City, the Eighties setting is a huge part of the appeal.
- Eighties Hair: Louise, which is even more clearly this in the art work.
- An Entrepreneur Is You: The normal business missions have been expanded to the "Empire Building" feature: You attack rival businesses, take them over, choose what type of business you want to set up (drugs, prostitution, etc.), and choose the size of the building (the bigger, the better). You can then take missions from these buildings to improve your reputation.
- Escort Mission: Several characters, from Phil, to Louise, to Reni.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: The mission "Brawn Of The Dead", which has you acting as a stuntman in a zombie movie that is an obvious Shout-Out to Dawn of the Dead.
- Fallen Hero: By game's end, Vic is a far cry from the straight-laced soldier he was at the beginning of the story.
- Fur and Loathing / Pretty in Mink: Louise buys herself a pink fur jacket in the second half of the game (that can also be seen in the opening and one of the Loading Screens). But before then, she was a good girl, just in over her head. After that, she was all coked-up and ditzy (just not to anywhere near the degree of the Vance boys' mother).
- Gameplay and Story Integration: Vic has military training and is easily among the most powerful of the GTA protagonists in a fistfight.
- Hide Your Children: Well, except for Mary-Beth, Louise's baby, who appears in several cutscenes.
- Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Vic can't climb (unless it's up to shore out of water), even after San Andreas averted this.
- MacGuffin Escort Mission: Don't let them "Kill Phil"!
- The Millstone: A lot of Victor's problems are due to Lance's screw ups.
- Mission Pack Sequel: Just not as much as Liberty City Stories.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Umberto Robina helps you to defend your businesses from the Mendez brothers in "Blitzkrieg Strikes Again". In person. Too bad both of you are assigned different businesses to defend and you don't actually see him fighting.
- Pink Means Feminine: Louise's fur coat is pink, and before that, her exercise clothes were part pink.
- Phil Collins: He plays himself. See Promoted Fanboy.
- Prequel Not only is this a prequel to Vice City, it's chronologically the first game in the Grand Theft Auto III continuity.
- Promoted Fanboy: Phil Collins, who is a self-confessed fan of video games, is an NPC. He provided his voice for his character, and his music is used throughout the game. At the end, his character performs a concert which you have to protect... or else he "really feels it coming in the air tonight".
- Rape as Drama: What Martinez does to Louise.
- The Rock Star In Danger: Phil Collins.
- Scenery Porn: Vice City at dusk. The neon is all lit up, and the sky is painted in glorious shades of orange and red.
- Shout-Out: The game lets you unlock weapons and armor at Vic's safehouse by finding and shooting 99 red balloons scattered throughout Vice City. If you know your 80's music, you'll know that this is an obvious reference to Nena's hit song 99 Luftballons, which appeared on the original Vice City game's soundtrack.
- Bryan Forbes is pretty much an evil version of Sonny Crockett.
- Stuffed Into the Fridge: Louise.
- The Load: Lance... even moreso that he was in Vice City. See The Millstone as well.
- Too Dumb to Live: Lance, good God, Lance! If you felt bad about killing him in Vice City, this game will rapidly change your mind.
- Vice City: Of course.