February 19th, 2010
For the past month I’ve been blitzing through the PS2 ports of GTA: Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories. Entertainment is an easily acquired commodity in this modern age, which renders these old-cum-new GTA games closer to filler than enjoyment. I’ll admit. Although they’re still decent, I regret buying Liberty/Vice City Stories, but have learnt a valuable lesson from my bad decision. And hey, it’s not all bad, the low-impact gameplay has allowed me to catch up on a few months worth of podcasts. This is the first of three short articles I’ve written on the duo.
I don’t live in the city. I live in an outer suburban area of South Australia. The capital of South Australia is Adelaide. People say that Adelaide is a small “country town”, they’re probably right. Sure, it’s not as exciting as Sydney, nor as cultured as Melbourne, but it’s the place in my head which is synonymous with the word “city”. ‘Adelaide’ connotes all of the feelings I associate with a metropolis, even though it can hardly be considered one itself.
Despite shoddy game design, left, right and centre, I can’t help but look fondly on GTA: Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories, because they too evoke a sense of ‘Adelaide’ as with the other GTA games I’ve played. The connection isn’t complicated; inhabiting GTA’s virtual cities, with all the freedom and degree of realism that it affords, elicits the feelings of living within a city environment. GTA’s cities share the same responsibilities and dilemmas of any real city, just under the context of a syndicate culture, rather than that of a law-abiding citizen. The two experiences are therefore similar.
Personally speaking, the sense of place is a little different in Vice City; I find it less effective because the setting and time period are less familiar to me. That, and the licensed radio station music (a selection of greatest hits 80’s tracks) are horrible. I guess if I were someone else it might seem nostalgic.
You really can’t underestimate the city atmosphere, it’s the franchise’s main hook, and what ultimately kept me on the line throughout a series of crummy missions and derogatory humour, which we’ll explore in the following post.