Grand Theft Auto: Vice City celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012, with Rockstar releasing a 10th Anniversary edition as well as re-releasing the game as iPhone and Android apps. Vice City won numerous awards upon its release and is the fourth best-selling game in the franchise with more than 20 million copies sold. Vice City not only stands out in the franchise because it was a well-received game, but also because it's so different from the other games in the series (besides its spinoff, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories).
Vice City is different for several reasons. It's one of the most heavily themed games in the franchise, set around a decade and a specific American city. It also was the first to introduce a speaking protagonist, allowing players to deeply connect with Tommy Vercetti and the other characters. Vercetti also speaks to himself after receiving some missions, providing personal commentary on the characters and the missions themselves. Vice City had an intriguing story with great conflict and a satisfying resolution in the end.
If Rockstar were to make a sequel, then the game would need to continue with a strong, consistent theme, have many of the same characters, and overflow with throwbacks, homages and cameos. The sequel, like the original, needs to be about the story. A sequel also provides an opportunity for Rockstar to create a game that is both old-school and new-school, combining elements from the old games and the new games. Here are 15 ways Rockstar could make an AMAZING sequel to Vice City.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was modeled after the TV show Miami Vice, so it only makes sense that the game's sequel is also modeled after a classic crime drama. There's no better choice than Hawaii Five-O, which not only aired in the 1970s but has a modern reboot currently on the air. The modern reboot offers familiarity to some players while references to the old version can please another set of players. I'm not sure how many players in 2002 picked up on the Miami Vice references when the game first came out.
Hawaii Five-O as a model would also make it easy for Rockstar to continue many elements of Vice City that made the game the beloved member of the franchise it is. Both are tropical locations, so NPCs in bikinis is a must. Tommy Vercetti's hallmark aloha shirt fits right in. Vercetti could also hunt for chances to get "lei'd." There are many directions Rockstar can take the sequel so it's as heavily themed as Vice City.
Vice City was set in the 1980s; in 1986 to be exact. The decade impacted many of the design elements of the game: the characters' clothing, the radio soundtracks, the technology references, the cars, roller skating NPCS. It only makes sense for the sequel to have the same feel.
The GTA franchise doesn't yet have a game set in the early 2000s, besides Grand Theft Auto III. Grand Theft Auto III didn't really showcase life in 2001 and now that we're nearly into the 2020s, a game taking place in 2006 would seem "retro" to players born in the 2000s, yet laughingly nostalgic to players who are old enough to remember the decade. Setting the game in the 2000s also allows for creative throwbacks to Y2K, dial up Internet, AOL discs, pagers, Blockbuster, etc.
Now, there absolutely needs to be a mission involving drug smuggling through AOL discs in the mail. The player has to intercept a mail shipment to switch out the actual discs for the drugs or hijack a mail truck to make very specific deliveries.
The music on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City's radio stations are just top notch. The Michael Jackson hits are my favorite, but overall, the V-Rock, Emotion and Wave 103 radio stations are the best. Of course, a game set in the 80s is going to have tons of great 80s hits. Fortunately, the 2000s have their own set of hits and musical influences to feature as well.
Naturally, there needs to be boy bands, like an N'SYNC song or two before Justin Timberlake went solo. Same with Destiny's Child. There also needs to be at least one alternative rock station, featuring artists like Jimmy Eat World, Dashboard Confessional, Good Charlotte and Blink 182. Artists such as Ashanti, Nelly, Usher, Eminem and Britney Spears should have at least one song in there. Of course, we can't forget Nickelback. It's Grand Theft Auto. Every time a Nickelback song plays, someone kills a kitten, so Nickelback is perfect.
Vercetti, after taking over Vice City and getting Sonny, Lance and the Mafia out of his way, has expanded his empire a bit more south and to even more tropical locations. He's 20 years older and was planning to slowly retire and pass things along to some trusted right-hand men. After all, it's not as easy to run around stealing cars and killing rivals in your 50s and 60s.
Vercetti wanted to quietly settle in "Hawaii" while relying on the passive income of the drug trade, but has to get back into the action one last time. He's gotten word the Triads are interested in icing him to create a power vacuum, while some within his own ranks want to take advantage of the power switch for themselves. Vercetti has to run errands and do favors again to get the information on who's behind what and ensure a smooth transition. Once Vercetti is out and retired, he couldn't care less on what happens.
By now, you've probably figured out our Grand Theft Auto: Vice City sequel will take place in Hawaii. Hawaii as the location would not only be similar to Vice City, but does offer opportunities for new game mechanics.
First of all, if the game's setting includes a couple of islands, then boats and planes could be used more frequently as a mode of transportation. Although they were a major part of several missions in Vice City and San Andreas, boats and planes weren't too necessary outside of those missions. With islands, it can be required for players to use boats and planes to travel between the islands.
Second of all, with inter-island travel, there's room for new side missions as well. Easter eggs could be hidden in the open waters. The Import/Export side missions can include a list that's just boats. Fishing could be introduced. A form of fast travel could be included once the player completes a mission or visits an island for the first time. The islands pose fascinating twists to many well-loved aspects of the GTA series.
"Book 'em Danno," if you don't know, was the catchphrase detective Steve McGarrett always said to his partner Danno at the end of each episode of Hawaii Five-O to "book" the bad guy for the crime. The catchphrase should be the title of very first mission of the sequel, where Ken Rosenberg and Vercetti look to "book" somebody. The word "book" obviously takes on a different meaning in the context of GTA, where the first mission could involve getting someone out of the local jail, or setting someone up to get "booked" and go to prison. Either of those missions would begin the conflict of Vercetti wanting to retire and line up a trustworthy successor and him finding out it won't be that simple. Or the mission would be another set up murder or drug deal like the first mission in Vice City. Set ups do seem to follow Vercetti wherever he goes. If "book 'em Danno" is trademarked or copyrighted, then a "book 'em Tommy" or a "book 'em Kenny" would also work.
Just like how the cell phone became more prominent with subsequent GTA games and how the payphone was central to some Grand Theft Auto: Vice City side missions, the Vice City sequel should include social media and/or messaging to reflect the 2000s. MySpace was still a big deal, as was Friendster, so cut scenes where Vercetti and Rosenberg are scoping out profile pages are necessary in capturing the first decade of the 21st century.
Social media might not make the most sense for a GTA franchise, since protagonists like Vercetti want to lay low and not want to attract attention online. A way the sequel could accommodate that, but still reflect 2006 is through texting. Instead of cell phone calls (or just using calls), those missions could be unlocked through texts with fun dialogue such as the following:
Kimo: can you come now? i need help.
Vercetti: who r u?
Kimo: dis kimo. come 2 my shop now. i need help.
Vercetti: on my way
In Vice City, Vercetti couldn't swim. It was somewhat understandable, as he just spent the last 15 years in prison and that's not really the place to learn how to swim. However, it's 20 years later. He's now in Hawaii and he doesn't have any excuses. Vercetti also should know how to swim, partly because the GTA series has now given that mechanic to the protagonist.
Therefore, let's take the swimming one step further and make it surfing. What is a video game that's supposed to take place in Hawaii without surfing? Add a surfboard and the character's halfway there with the paddling motion. He can go out to sea to catch a wave just fine. The waves are the harder part to program. If surfing is still somehow impossible in 3D game design, then bodyboarding would suffice. But, a really cool aspect to a Vice City sequel is if the player can interact with the water beyond swimming and boating.
One of the neat aspects to Vice City's story was the demographic variety in the characters and gangs: Haitians, Cubans, Bikers, the French, Diaz, Paul Kent, Cortez etc. Vice City reflected Miami's diversity and a sequel in Hawaii could do the same. Hawaii provides a chance to draw out Asian characters and storylines featuring Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino gangs. Hawaii also has a substantial Mormon population, which would be interesting to flesh out in a series that hasn't seen much religion or many corrupted religious officials as characters.
Of course, Hawaii also has plenty of Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Fijians, Tongans and other members of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. Pacific Islanders would make fascinating, lively characters who are hardly seen in video games, let alone in the GTA series. There's a lot of history and culture to explore with those characters that would fit right into this sequel and into what made Grand Theft Auto: Vice City such a memorable video game.
The coolest video games today include a cameo and what better cameo to have than Jack Lord, the actor who played Steve McGarrett in the original Hawaii Five-O. Yes, Lord is dead already, but a cameo of Alex O'Laughlin, who plays McGarrett in the reboot, just wouldn't be as cool.
How would this Jack Lord cameo work? In both the original and the reboot, McGarrett's father is murdered by criminals and the incident motivates McGarrett to work in law enforcement. The Jack Lord cameo can be a friend to Vercetti without being a bad cop by wanting to work with Vercetti a couple of times to help capture the ones who murdered his father. Or, they could work together through a mutual unspoken agreement where Jack Lord won't touch Vercetti or will look the other way on the next drug shipment, if Vercetti helps Lord nab a few other folks both would benefit from having in prison.
Every GTA game needs an arch nemesis who will get what they deserve in the very last mission. In GTA III, it was Catalina. In GTA: San Andreas, it was Tenpenny. In Vice City, it was Sonny. For the Vice City sequel, it needs to be someone similar to Wo Fat.
Wo Fat, in Hawaii Five-O, is a former agent of the Chinese government and international criminal kingpin. In the original series, he was arrested in the final episode. In the modern reboot, Steve McGarrett kills Wo Fat after Wo Fat abducts Steve trying to find out what happened to his father. The two could, in a sense, be combined in the sequel. As the final mission, or one of the final missions, Wo Fat could abduct Vercetti and Vercetti has to sneak out and kill Wo Fat in a long, drawn out fist fight. Why are Wo Fat and Vercetti enemies? Because Wo Fat was part of the set up way back when that landed Vercetti 15 years in the prison, much like how Wo Fat was involved in McGarrett's family and past.
The GTA franchise hasn't dabbled too much into political intrigue, but a Vice City sequel based on Hawaii Five-O would be the perfect place to include working for a politician or a juicy, corrupt story line. In the original series and the reboot, the police force answers to the governor of Hawaii. How cool would it be to have Vercetti run a few missions for the governor himself (or herself)?
I think it would also be neat if the governor wasn't completely a bad guy, but say, wanted some help from Vercetti to set someone up to get arrested. Vercetti is only interested in doing work for as someone as political high up and powerful as the governor because the person the governor wants arrested is also someone Vercetti needs out of the way. For example, a criminal the governor can't arrest on other crimes because there's not enough evidence, but a drug dealer who Vercetti suspects wants to eliminate a few rungs on the ladder to the top. But, murder is out of the question, so the two work together to pin a crime on this nuisance they both want out of the way.
Since location is so critical to the sequel, it only makes sense if a few famous Hawaiian locations made their way into the game. The map of Vice City looks exactly like part of Miami, complete with the bridges and the smaller islands in the middle. Washington Beach looks exactly like Miami Beach in the 80s. However, much like Miami, what makes Hawaii recognizable is not the buildings, but the landscape.
Some of the most famous locations that need to be included are Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor and Aloha Tower. Iolani Palace would be fun to include, but it can't be a drug kingpin's house. It should be part of a mission where drugs need to be recovered from some artifacts stored there, making your way past the guards. A less famous location that should to be included is Halawa Prison because this is a GTA game and meeting a very old Colonel Cortez coming out of prison on parole would be an awesome cut scene.
Besides the characters and the voice acting that brought Vice City to life, the freedom of choice in the different mission paths added a lot of color to the game. The player could choose to work with Love Fist, acquire business assets and progress toward the final mission of the game, do the business asset missions to earn more money, take on assignments to assassinate people or work with the gangs and start a gang war. The possibilities aren't literally endless, but there's enough wiggle room in the choice to allow for several different playthroughs. A Vice City sequel needs to have that same array with many of the same staples like street racing, operating a drone to plant bombs, acting as security, along with some new ideas like canoe boat racing, dumping a body out at sea, working with the military, sneaking drugs onto a plane for a foreign dignitary.
Lance Vance is killed in the final mission of GTA: Vice City. His brother, Victor Vance, is the protagonist in GTA: Vice City Stories and is killed in the prologue in Vice City. Because Lance Vance was such a prominent character in the game, the perfect twist for the Vice City sequel is to reveal that Lance Vance has another brother who is still alive and wants answers from the man who was present at the death of both brothers.
We don't know yet whether this other brother, let's call him Jermaine, is an ally or an enemy to Vercetti. But, Jermaine shows up in the game coming out of prison to learn both his brothers are dead and Vercetti is the one who knows why. He doesn't want to kill Vercetti, at least not right away, because he wants answers first, but could show up as another wolf in sheep's clothing the way Lance did.