Q: What is Rockstar really like? A: Nuts*

Alec Meer
Reviewer, PC Format

What: Vice City
When: April 2003
Where: London
Why: First ever review of vice city on PC

Since GTA III, Rockstar’s been big on secrecy. Fair enough - the less the fans know, the more they want to know. But actually witnessing their stranglehold on the flow of knowledge is, however, a startling experience. Let me explain. That infamous secrecy didn’t seem much of a deal this time: after all, Vice City had been out on PS2 for six months. How worried could they be about me revealing, “Good game still good, now higher res”? Very, it turns out...

Thus I was sequestered in a luxurious London hotel for a couple of days. Their first action was to stay my hand as I reached for the curtains, craving sunlight. I paraphrase from memory:

“What if another mag tries to see in? Everyone wants this exclusive.”

I stare silently at the ten storey drop outside the window. "Er. Really?"

"PC Gamer could be out in that park with binoculars."

I stare again, this time at the vast, empty park, across which one matchstick-sized man slowly walked his Rice Krispie-sized dog.

"What, hiding behind that tree, trying to get a picture of the increased draw distance on his phone? "

“Well, you never know.”

“You’d need a jetpack to reach this window.”

“Well, you never know.” And so, darkness fell. The room was a shrine to Rockstar. The towels were natty Vice City ones; neon-pink cocktail sticks and R* keyrings lay everywhere; the hi-fi was encircled by soundtrack CDs. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t look awesome, that I didn’t relish these delights. I’d also be lying if I said it wasn’t a little creepy.

The days that followed were characteristically surreal. Fine booze and incredible food; I wanted for nothing except sunshine. However, playing a game with someone watching is deeply unsettling. Though no criticism was uttered, each time I died felt utterly shameful. Then, late one night some London chums stopped by, curious to see my luxury prison - and called up porn on the pay-per-view TV, purely to land me in trouble. Miserably trying to explain to the PR the next day, I was not believed, but nor was I admonished. I got the dread sense it was simply expected... and it all piled up on the tab. I felt like some seedy nobody living a life of unfettered hedonism and somehow failing to appreciate it. How very Vice City! I was treated exceptionally well for those two days. Rockstar took fine care of me, no doubt about that. But they also scared me half to death.

Apr 28, 2008