Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Essay
Video games began modestly, in a primitive age that had a littile yellow dot scour a maze “eating” little white dots. Since then, video games have expanded exponentially. These games even spand genres, including action, adventure, sports, etc. In their progression, many video games have attempted to simualte really, emersing the gamer into this puesdo-reality. Although some attempts were unsuccessful in fully depicting reality, one game managed to bring this vision to fruition. The Grand Theft Auto series not onl succeeded in producing this realistic, yet simualted environment, it changed the landscape of video games forever. Particularly, the Vice City installemnt, absorbs the visual and aural aspects of cinema, while drawing source material from an array of films to produce a simulated reality that emerses the gamer and accentuate the overall experience.
Vice City, in a sense, is not even a video game. It is an interactive movie. The opening credits are like those in a film, with opening action scenes accompanied with an original score. Vice City begins with a brief, introductory animated sequence that reveals the story and introduces the protanginist. Rockstar games, the producers of Vice City, went as far as to enlist real and reconizable actors to do the character voices. The protaginist in Vice City is a character named Tommy Vercetti. This character is voice by Ray Liotta. “What the public knows, in short, is not a star as a person, but rather the star as an image” (Robert C. Allen 607). Ray Liotta is a well known actor, whose star persona is associated with a ganster, mafiaoso image, as personified in the film, Goodfellas. Further, the animators for Vice City sketch the character of Tommy Vercetti to actually resemble Ray Liotta. The usage of Ray Liotta’s voice and physical likeness takes Vice City from being a mere video game and transforms it into a cinematic, yet interactive experience. Essentially, the gamers have the ability to act on their homicidal whims and live the “gangster” life. Futhermore, Vice City has Gary Busey voice the character of Phil Cassidy; Luis Guzman voices the character of Ricardo Diaz; and David Paymer voices the character of Ken Roseburg. In Vice City, the character of Ken Roseburg, who is Tommy Vercetti’s lawyer, would equate to a supporting actor role. The animators, who continue to borrow more inspiration from film, sketch the character of Ken Roseburg to resemble the lawyer in the film, Carlito’s Way. Many gangster films were used as source material in the making of Vice City.
The animators of Vice City used Miami as the setting for the game. Additionally, they went as far as to set the time period of the 80’s. It is within in this time period, in which some of the cinematic source material takes place as well. For example, when Tommy Vercetti is running unabashed through the streets of Vice City, stealing cars and motorcycles and “blowing” people’s heads off, the cops are notified. Depending upon the damage Tommy Vercetti does, which results in the acculation of stars, they might send a couple of cop cars. However, when Tommy Vercetti gets 3 out of 6 stars, they send detective inspired from the T.V. Show, Miami Vice. These characters do not have voices but their appearance is identical to Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. The animators went as far as to replicate the car from the show. Further, the animators designed the mansion that Tommy Vercetti is awarded through gameplay progression after the smansion from Scarface. The games goes as far as to have the climatic shoot-out take place here, similarly to the climatic scene in Scarface. The animator anherded to he specific details of the mansions interior and exterior. Tommy Vercetti’s office is equipped with the big desk and surveilance cameras, just like Tony Montana. The animators even places Tommy Vercetti’s intials in the desk chair, like Tony Montana. Through further gameplay progression, Tommy Vercetti is award the opportunity to purchase a club. This club is modeled after the club seen in Scarface.
Some of the actions sequences found in gangster films are what distinguishes this genre from the others. Gangster films typically depict shoot-outs, bank heist, high speed chases, etc. The characters in these films have an assortment of weapons and explosive, along with getaway vehicles to execute their missions. In Vice City, Tommy Vercetti has at his disposal a similar assortment of arms, including AK-47’s, 9 Technines, assault rifles, etc. Further, the creators of Vice City incorprated a “chainsaw” for use. Borrowing this weapon from “Scarface”, the creators of Vice City instensify the gore, while staying true to the gangster films its attempting to mimcy.
The missions that Tommy Vercetti has to complete are cinematic in themselves. Some of the missions include “hits” on rival gangs and sabotaging their property investment throughout the city. One mission, in particular, borrows its premise from another gangster film. In Vice City, Tommy Vercetti has to rob a bank to complete a mission. He is accompanied by three other characters as they attempt a robbery that is a duplication of the bank heist in the gangster film, Heat. The bank heist plays out in the game just as it does in the film. Tommy Vercetti and the other characters escape the bank and have a shoot-out in broad daylight, as scene in the film. Its these idiosyncracies that makes Vice City have a cinematic feel. Pulling off a heist at this magnitude is something that only happens in the movies. Here, in Vice City, the gamer is able do the unthinkable.
In addition to the many cinematic details Vice City borrows, the game developers incorprated an actual movie studio in the game that Tommy Vercetti gets the opportunity to purchase. The studio is an replica of a real studio with sets, props, etc. However, the studio is a small B studio that produces pornagraphic films. The movie studio plays a vital role for Tommy Vercetti because it’s a venture to make more money. In fact, the game quantifies his achievements based on a high score that equates to money earned. In most gangster films, the characters primary motive is about making money, whether by robbing, stealing, or killing. Vice City embrasses this passion, as it is what soley drives Tommy Vercetti. He earns money through overseeing production, insuring the saftey of his “actressess”, while owning the lot.
Vice City also incoprates aural elements from gangster films, to accenuate the visual elements of the game. Vice City as a score, which was original produce for this game. Also, the game has a soundtrack. Along with alowing Tommy Vercetti the chance to steal cars, there are radiostations completely unique to Vice City. These radistations have unique DJ’s and play music that keeps with the 80’s feel. This attention to the aural elements of the cinema, along with the visual inspired elements of cinema are what bring the game to life. Vice City is a city with the same simple nuiances of a real city. Furthermore, the radiostations spand a wide array of musical genres from hip hop to rock and roll to reggae. Flash 103.5 is a station found in Vice City that plays a fe songs found in the gangster film, Scarface. These songs include “Push It to the Limit”, “Rush Rush”, “She’s on Fire”, and “I’m Hot Tonight”. With this attention to aural detail, Vice City no becomes the complete cinematic experience.
In conclusion, Vice City is a video game that absorbs many thematic elements from the cinema. The design of the landscape of Vice City has set the bar for the aesthetics of video games as well. A great deal of attention was given in the design of the buildings and streets. Even the pedestrians that rome the streets were scrutinized in an effort to bring a certain level of realism to the game. In acheiveing this virtual, and seemingly realistic environment, the gaming experience completely immerses the gamer. This game becomes one of legends with a cult following to match. In the recent installment of the Grand Theft Auto series, San Andreas, the creators raise the bar even to a further while continuing to use the cinema as source material.