It’s no secret that the Grand Theft Auto series is full of fantastic classic games that still have plenty of juice left in them. That said, Rockstar does seem laser focused on churning out new entries of their flagship franchises – not really going back to old ones. This is both a curse and a blessing, as it’s nice to see these new entries continue to come out and raise the bar for their respective genres, but it’s also a bit of a shame that we have little reason to expect Rockstar to ever revitalize their older games. At best, we do seem to get occasional ports of some of their more popular older games, especially those from the PS2 era. This is certainly appreciated, as the older hardware needed to run original versions of these games is more often than not incompatible with modern TVs and PS2’s themselves are getting pretty old, and less of them maintain their ability to properly function with every passing day. Still yet, an optimized port of a classic game will never quite have the tantalizing appeal of a full-on remake.
Remakes can update a game in ways that make it feel more like it belongs in the current generation with completely updated graphics, improved gameplay, and a host of other things that breathe completely new life into a game. As such, with Rockstar’s ever-growing catalogue of great games that still hold up incredibly well on a conceptual level, the idea of some of these games getting a proper remake is very alluring. Games like Manhunt, Red Dead Revolver, and Bully would absolutely sell themselves while single-handedly reviving the franchises to which they belong. But today, the Rockstar classic that we want to call attention to is Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – and why a remake of it would make all the sense in the world to everybody involved. While Rockstar has not announced any official plans to do this, nor are there any substantial rumors alluding to it, who knows, maybe if we talk about it enough we can help move the needle in the right direction.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a game like no other in its respective franchise. It’s got a stylized tone – heavily inspired by movies like Scarface and Goodfellas – that permeates every faucet of its design and really makes it stand out in the series, and for that alone it’s many GTA fans’ favorite entry. It’s also a big part of why Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is an excellent candidate for the remake treatment.
Visually, the Miami 80’s aesthetic is just a timeless one to say the least. The Neon lights and loud pastel color palettes of characters’ clothes, decor, and vehicles is a look that will never get old, but even more importantly it’s kind of “in” right now and has been for a while. Today we’re seeing all sorts of movies, tv shows, and video games apply this aesthetic to great effect as it is appealing to just about everybody. Younger folks seem to like it for its brazen and audacious tone, while folks aged in their mid-thirties and up often have legitimate nostalgia for the era and just enjoy seeing many of its components honored today through replication. So long story short; it’s just a good look to have if you’re trying to move units. While San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto 3 and 4, all have their strong points, they don’t stand out thematically like Vice City does. It’s true that you could absolutely give any of the Grand Theft Auto games the remake treatment and expect it to sell well, given the general popularity of the series, but I think it’s fair to say that even a conservative remake of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City would sell better than the others, if for nothing else the fact that it looks like what a lot of other modern games are attempting to. It would almost fit in with modern games in a way that a remake of other PS2-era GTA games would not.
Secondly, it’s also fair to say that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City still has one of the better stories of the entire series. This is a bit subjective admittedly, but the drug kingpin story arc with revenge and redemption thrown in is one that always works, especially with the old-school mafia twist. Even today it’s a setting that works well in movies and TV shows, and we also see evidence of it selling relatively well with the Mafia 1 remake and Mafia 2 remaster that were released not too long ago for modern consoles. Despite that remaster perhaps not being the best, the interest it received is undeniable, and thus, the power of that setting and genre is evident. Vice City’s story is certainly a bit on the predictable side, as most crime stories are, but it also does a great job of standing out with outstandingly well-written and extremely memorable characters like Ken Rosenburg, Sonny Forelli, and of course Tommy Vercetti, the twists and turns of the plot never cease to entertain despite being visible from miles away.
Especially in one in a series that didn’t even give its main character much of anything to say at all in the previous entry. It’s rudimentary by today’s standards, and there isn’t much a remake can do about that without making it feel too different, but the charm of its characters and surprisingly tight execution makes it stick with you just as well as anything else the genre has to offer. The fact that the voice cast is made up of absolute legends like Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, and Dennis Hopper also helps with the appeal, as those actors are still totally revered today just as much – if not more so – than they were when the game was made.
The sun-kissed Miami-inspired setting of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the one that still retains the most of its appeal despite its age in my humble opinion. Maybe it’s the bright colors, maybe it’s the more welcoming, simplistic layout that avoids feeling overwhelming so much better than later entries, but whatever it is, Vice City is still GTA’s most enticing setting to date, and for that reason alone many long-time GTA fans still call it their favorite after 5, if not their all-time favorite overall.
So while it’s certainly true that, in a perfect world, Rockstar would just give their GTA series a similar treatment to what the Yakuza series got, by just remaking all of the games and celebrating the franchise’s history in a more full-throated way, but as it stands, with Rockstar showing no real interest in doing this at all, advocating for what is perhaps the franchise’s strongest PS2-era entry to get the remake treatment makes a lot of sense. Not only because it would sell well but because that is the game that deserves it the most. Despite having extremely dated visuals and a comparatively rudimentary set of controls compared to its successors, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is still the game that more than deserves a fundamental update because gamers today who might not be so inclined to play its current form deserve to experience it nonetheless.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.