Developer: Rockstar Games
Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Ten years. It has been ten long years since Grand Theft Auto: Vice City set out to accomplish what some felt impossible: top Grand Theft Auto III. Following up what had been not only a genre defining hit, but a cultural phenomenon, Rockstar North set their sights on the melting-pot of Miami in the 1980s. The game went on to not only match the success of its predecessor, but at least for a time, set atop the list of selling PlayStation 2 games of all-time. So can the widely respected and highly regarded world of Vice City make a seamless transition to iOS, or is this another tragic case of a title that doesn’t age elegantly?

It is amazing to consider that a world as vital and vibrant as Vice City was birthed in the PlayStation 2 era. Not only was the game well ahead of its time, but it was one of the first opportunities for a city to have its own unique personality. This attention to detail seems to have survived the transition iOS. Even the player’s avatar, Tommy Vercetti, who is by default adorned with at tropical shirt, seems to have bought into the crazy lifestyle of the tropical climate.

Tommy is on the hunt for illicit narcotics that he was hoping to traffic to the drug fueled masses of Vice City. As he digs deeper into the seedy crime underbelly of the city, it becomes increasingly evident that pretty much anything goes, as long as the job gets done. Players get to guide Vercetti on his rise from low-level thug to crime kingpin and every grizzly side-job in between.

Fortunately for everyone, the game’s control scheme is fully adjustable, in order to make Tommy’s climb to the top all the more appealing to take an active role in. Each face button can actually be repositioned and resized at will in order to best utilize and streamline the screen space, which proves especially critical on the more miniature iOS devices.

One other unexpected pleasure was the eclectic period soundtrack that punctuates the player’s journey through the mean streets of Vice City. Anyone who was raised on the music of the era is bound to find a tune that strikes their fancy. Mixing these mood setting beats with the hilariously stereotypical vocal tracks uttered from the locals, and players will think they have died and went to a politically incorrect, yet immensely entertaining borough of heaven.

As one might have expected, Rockstar has gone out of their way to deliver the pristine Grand Theft Auto: Vice City experience on iOS. Not only has the classic aged immensely well, but it still manages to deliver a quality of play that is unmatched a decade later. $4.99 seems like a pittance to pay to get a portable hit of open-world perfection. Don’t think twice, just click download.

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