Feature Interrupt: My idea for a GTA: Vice City sequel

Posted: February 27, 2011 by ryanlecocq in Features

 

So I was publishing an article on my idea for an RPG, Hinterlands, but it wasn’t getting shit for hits.  So I also had this idea for a sequel to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City that might have more google search name value.

Plot Setup:

At the end of Vice City, Tommy Vercetti established himself as the head crime boss of Vice City.  It’s now 1989, 3 years later and Tommy has worked himself in with both the American and Cuban government and is pulling strings to get a huge favor.  Family is big with Italians and Tommy isn’t going to stand by while his cousin Rupert sits in a Cuban political prison.  Rupert Vercetti was a U.S. Delta Operator sent into Cuba in the mid 80s by then Vice President George Bush Sr.  When the covert mission failed, the U.S. government denied all knowledge and refused and exchange of prisoners that would have freed Rupert and several of his comrades.

The game starts as Tommy, now fatter, sleeker and wearing a good suit, meets a small plane on the tarmac of Miami International.  From the plane exit two Cuban men in suits (obviously military) dragging a bedraggled bearded prisoner.  Enter your character Rupert “Rue” Vercetti.  After a shave and a haircut and a rundown of America in the last 5 years, Tommy gets you set up with an apartment and a fast motorcycle and the promise of work “when you’re ready.”  You’re back in the states after 5 years in some serious shit, up to your eyes with PTSD and you have one hell of a huge favor to collect from President George H.W. Bush.

 

Rue Vercetti

True to the precedent set by Red Dead Redemption, VC2 aims to tell a poignant story through the eyes of a like-able character.  Rue is not Martin Sheen from Apocalypse Now, so crazy with bad memories that he can’t help ranting and rolling on the ground.  He’s the type of person who survives things like that: matter of fact, a little zen and with a wry sense of humor.  He’s a person who knows how to murder with expertise, but sees it as a tool only used when better than other options.  The nickname “Rue” is as in “you will Rue the day you pissed me off” not just because it sounds better than Rupert.  A little Jack Bauer, a little General Hal Moore and even a little Tom Cruise from Top Gun, he’s also more than just a war hero stereotype.  Rupert loves fast bikes, classic rock (which wasn’t considered classic when he was last in America) and listening to the right music while driving fast on bikes.  Like how John Marston covers his erudite soul with an ignorant, rough-cut frontier mask, Rue Vercetti always drives faster than the demons can fly.

 

Gameplay: Jiu Jitsu, being a badass and the ‘life soundtrack’

Relating to two things I mentioned in the previous paragraph about the character, his efficient violence and his love of well timed music are tied to the gameplay.  Rue is an expert in Jiu Jitsu.  Jack Bauer uses it, hell UFC fighters use it watered down so they don’t constantly break each others limbs.  When it comes to straight up putting somebody in the ER in no time flat, Jiu Jitsu is your one stop solution.  The U.S. Army Special Forces variety (or the Jack Bauer variety as I know it) incorporates the combat knife as well as other means of silent disposal as well as the traditional bone breaking and dislocating.  In addition to the melee ability that can be equipped to the attack button, Jiu Jitsu is context sensitive no matter what you’re holding.  If you’re holding a kitchen knife and a guy lunges at you, you can push just the action button to say stab him in his outstretched wrist.  Or, if you want to show off that training, you can hit action and quickly jerk back the left stick and catch his right wrist with your left hand, pulling him past you and then stabbing him in the top of his spine as he passes, instantly ending the fight.  Rather than being an intrusive gameplay mechanic (like Rocksteady’s excellent system in Batman:Arkham), it’s more like a way to feel like a special forces badass when you react quickly.  It also looks amazing when you end a showdown with a crime boss by quickly grabbing his outstretched arm as he’s threatening you and taking him hostage faster than his guards can cuss.

The ‘life soundtrack’ element is tied to another gift Tommy gives you when you land, to acclimatize you to upper-middle class late 80s living: A CD Walkman with radio and a home CD copier deck (the bleeding edge of 1989).  So the first thing Rue can do when he returns from his vacation in Cuba is create some state of the art mix-CDs courtesy of his Mafioso cousin’s mad bank (make sure to get those burned out soldier favorites like Fortunate Son and War Pigs).  Besides just allowing you to take your music on foot with you, the Walkman let’s you take any songs from the game’s catalog (which is on your shelf next to your home stereo) and make 72 minute mix CDs you can play at your whim.  At certain times Rue will pull a disc out of his pocket and put it in out of the player’s control.  This only happens in plot related scenes (like major races and fights) and only because the scene has been ‘life soundtracked.’  Say for example in a big race we could time it to the music assuming you will be at a certain points if you only have a couple of seconds slack to make checkpoints.  So in the part of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” where she’s singing the slow, high refrain a-capello you are in mid-air jumping a raised bridge and your wheel hits the ground withing milliseconds of the hard resume of the electric guitar.  The following solo-duet is perfectly timed to the final switchbacks and the final guitar blow off is almost perfectly in tune with your motorcycle downshifts.  It helps that this song must have been written while riding a bike (listen to the ending and then listen to a motorcycle come to a stop in a race), but just imagine moments like this sprinkled throughout the game where the music of the 80s is the soundtrack of Rue’s life.

Another example would be a similar scene where you are the passenger while the female lead you’ve just met is driving, Heart’s “Kick it Out” (her car, so she starts it) is playing in time with the car chase as the black gangmobiles stalk you down the boulevards.  As you complain about being a bit unmanned being driven around, she says “Well you could always do something manly and shoot those fuckers!”  As you lean out the window you see the black Lincolns slide around the corner to the C-slide at the beginning of the solo, starting a herring bone chase where you fire at them as the guitar wails and the car squeals.   Just one last one is a late-disco-early-dance club scene where you meet the female lead for the second time.  Amidst the dancing lights you half-step boogie your ass to Mannfred Mann’s version of “Blinded by the Light.”  Whether you look like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction or more like Keven Bacon in any movie is up to you and your adaptation of your Jiu Jitsu skills to the rug.  That’s right, button sequence 80s dancing to romance the heroine.  Hit it all right and this scene is like one of the otherworldy numbers in Across the Universe, the lights, music and dancing are all surreal.  Fuck it up and, well, I’ll make you restart to checkpoint if it gets too bad.

 

The Pitch

The overall idea is to be the late 80s.  Hope was about to take a serious gut-blow in the next 20 years, but we had no idea in 1989.  The Wall was down, Reaganomics was finally starting to make us rich (we thought), music was getting louder and cars were getting more ridiculous.  As imminent as the fall was the height of the pride.  That’s what VC2 really is.  Scarface, Miami Vice and the first VC all captured it partially, but this is the straight look.  There should be moments where you feel like Marty McFly riding your skateboard to “The Power of Love.”  You know all of it seems silly now, but this is the world that existed when we were kids.  We thought the Ford Taurus SHO really was going to be the first car of the new future, just like the billboard said and that Michael Jackson probably would be president someday.  Looking at this gaudy, hedonistic paradise is a man who’s seen the filth under it first hand.  Every time he enjoys the fruits of his gang-connected lifestyle, he knows exactly where that heroin came from or what the ‘cargo’ was that just went through the harbor.  Making decisions that destroy people’s lives is so much more poignant when those decisions are made by a man who used to protect those people and lost faith.

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Comments
  1. lagunawsu2 says:

    My contribution, add more Steven Segal like scenes with Tommy coming in and saving your ass in the way only a fat, old man could… breaking people with various implements and generally sounding scarier talking to his mother on the phone than when addressing the bad guys.

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