Vice City fans have been desperate for the city to make some sort of a comeback for a long time now. Liberty City and Los Santos have been pretty prominent over the years, but after its first appearance in back in 2002, it hasn’t shown up again (unless you count GTA: Vice City Stories). Of course, with the GTA trilogy remaster out now, people are going to have a chance to dive back into the classic. And ahead of that, here in this feature, we’re going to take a look at some interesting tidbits about GTA: Vice City.
There’s always content that gets cut out of a game during development, but quite often, dataminers end up finding traces of it in games’ files. As you’d expect, there’s plenty of that in GTA: Vice City as well. For instance, there are unused audio files for a phone conversation between Tommy Vercetti and Avery Carrington that mentions an area called Gator Keys. Interestingly enough, this area isn’t in the final game, suggesting that it got shelved during the game’s development.
Plenty of other changes were also made to the map in Vice City beyond the removal of Gator Keys. Fort Baxter Air Base, for instance, was originally going to be an air traffic control tower, while several roads in the final game originally weren’t going to be in there. Meanwhile, several notable landmarks, such as the lighthouse in Ocean Beach and the Hyman Memorial Stadium, were originally not part of the plan either and were added in later on in development.
Speaking of cut content, it wasn’t just parts of the game’s world that had to be chopped out during development. Some characters and storylines attached to them had to be removed from the experience as well, some of which can still be found (to some extent) in the game’s files. One of these was a man named Mr. Moffat, who, some years in the past, escaped from a prison with Tommy and has been on the run since then. During the game, he calls up Tommy asking him for his help on a matter, though the entire Moffat character and his story ended up being left out of the game.
Autocide is a mission that GTA: Vice City fans will probably remember. For those who don’t, it tasks players with eliminating a number of rival gang members. Amusingly enough, the names of each of your targets are references to characters from contemporary GTA competitor franchises at the time- like Driver’s Tanner, True Crime: Streets of LA’s Nick Kang (or Nick Kong, as he’s referred to in Vice City), and of course, Hammond, Carter, and Dilson subtly nodding to The Getaway’s Hammond, Carter, and Jolson.
Grand Theft Auto 3’s silent protagonist wasn’t given his name – Claude – until his appearance in San Andreas, but even though he didn’t have a name when Vice City came out, the game still did find ways to pay tribute to him. He didn’t make an appearance himself, of course (which makes sense, since Vice City is set fifteen years before GTA 3), but Tommy Vercetti’s room at the Ocean View Hotel does have a poster featuring Claude.
Rockstar always finds ways to do some fun stuff with license plates in its GTA games. In GTA 3, for instance, every car’s license plate in the game read “LC R29”. GTA: Vice City has some similar stuff going on. All vehicles in the game have the same license plates, reading “VC R29”.
GTA: Vice City having a fully voiced protagonist was a big deal, of course, and an actor as big as Ray Liotta playing the role made it an even bigger deal. The game itself does pay homage to the actor in some fun ways as well. There are two missions in the game called “No Escape” and “Cop Land”, both of which are the names of movies Ray Liotta starred in, releasing in 1994 and 1997 respectively.
Rockstar’s never been shy about putting its stamp on its games- literally. In GTA: Vice City, for instance, you can find the Rockstar and Rockstar North logos scattered throughout the game. From clothing items worn by characters to doors of buildings to shops and billboards, Rockstar tucked away its logo in quite a lot of places throughout the game.
GTA: Vice City has easter eggs paying tribute to the earlier years of Rockstar as well, of course. For example, there’s an airline in the game called DMAir (you’ll spot its logos on planes if you’re in the right place), and that name is a not-so-subtle callback to Rockstar before it was Rockstar. The company used to be called DMA Design in its earlier years, and curiously enough, Rockstar sprinkled in a few nods to that in its GTA games of the PS2/Xbox era.
GTA: Vice City doesn’t hide its Scarface influences (in fact it’s pretty blatant about them), but it isn’t satisfied with doing that overtly throughout the story- it’s got plenty of fun little easter eggs tucked away as well. One of these can be found in a building in Ocean Beach- more specifically, Apartment. Head to the bathroom inside the apartment and you’ll find blood splattered on the walls and a chainsaw on the ground, which is a reference to a scene Scarface fans will remember all too well.
GTA: Vice City, like all other GTA games, has plenty of minigames to hunt down, but not all of them can be found easily. A couple of them are hidden. For instance, you can hit a beach ball in one of the pools on Starfish Island to begin a minigame where you must keep hitting it and keep it up in the air as long as possible. As soon as you trigger the minigame, a counter appears on the screen as well.
It might seem like focusing on a single weapon and its exclusion from a game is a bit too specific, but the AK-47 not being in GTA: Vice City is actually a notable omission. Why? Well, because the rifle has been a usable weapon in every single 3D GTA game to date except Vice City– and yes, that includes Vice City Stories. The game’s files still have mentions of the weapon, suggesting that Rockstar planned on adding it in at some point, but ended up dropping the idea during development.
This is one that many fans of the game will probably already know about. Originally, Rockstar’s plan for the game was to make it as a direct sequel to GTA 3 and have it be set in actual Miami. Appropriately enough, they planned on calling it Grand Theft Auto Miami. Of course, plans changed, and they instead came up with Miami-inspired Vice City as the setting, and chose to set the game long before GTA 3, in the year 1986.