Some want GTA 6 to go dark and gritty – but after replaying Vice City on PS2, I hope Rockstar hasn't lost its sense of humor

Screenshot from GTA Vice City featuring an apartment in the background
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

"That's not vodka, that's boomshine!" This single line from GTA: Vice City has been cozily camping out in my temporal lobe for 22 years. I remember everything about it: tone, cadence, slurred Scots drawl. I'm not really sure why, especially when the fourth mainline entry in Rockstar's beloved crime sim is littered with zingers, but it's probably because the mission it comes from encapsulates why I love the PS2-era GTA games: they're daft, proud of it, and still plenty challenging to this day.

I'll be square with you: I am awful at driving in video games, so much so that I could only ever watch my brother play through 'Publicity Stunt' when I was a kid because I found it so frustrating. Still, escorting Love Fist to their gig in a bomb-on-wheels stands out as my favorite mission of the bunch – even if I was too unskilled to try it myself – but having started replaying Vice City on my old PS2 this week, I have a new dream in mind for GTA 6. Despite what some facets of the internet pine for, I really hope to see Rockstar retaining a touch of VC's garish charm when we return to Tommy Vercetti's reworked stomping ground in 2025.

Pedal to the metalhead 

GTA Vice City Publicity Stunt mission

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

If your memory is a little fuzzy, allow me to refresh it. Scottish metal band Love Fist have enlisted Tommy to help escort them to their next gig, only to find the notorious Psycho that's been trying to assassinate them is alive and well, and has rigged the car to explode if it drops below a certain speed. 

Cue perhaps the funniest and most irritating mission ever. It's stressful enough to focus on maintaining a certain speed as the detonator meter starts to fill, but where I falter is in avoiding bashing into other cars and consequently slowing myself down. Not to mention how my desire to listen to every incredible word exchanged between the Love Fist members is partly the cause of all my crashes. No shade on Sandra Bullock, but these guys had me in stitches.

If you manage not to get blown up, you're treated to a hilarious back-and-forth as the half-drunk metallers puzzle over how to defuse a bomb. "We're all gonnae die," one of them says calmly. "I'm gonnae get pished." An exasperated Tommy eventually points out the green wire they need to pull, and then, you're in the clear and can head to the venue as the band enthusiastically chants "LOVE FIST" in your ear. I wind down my now-rattled nerves by coasting along the busy streets, listening to the pure, unadulterated 80s vibes as provided by Fever 105, and congratulating myself on a job somewhat okay-ishly done.

GTA Vice City Love Fist cutscene

(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

I would be incredibly sad to see Vice City turned into Night City in GTA 6.

Revisiting this mission in particular in 2024 was an exhilarating experience, not least because playing Vice City on its original hardware feels expectedly clunky at times. At the same time, it shines a light on Rockstar at its finest. This slice of pure chaos edifies exactly what GTA Vice City is all about, and I would give anything to have this goofy side to the fictional city return in 2025.

I might be alone in wanting another slightly cheesy, lighter-hearted GTA game in the pipeline, but then again, maybe not. It's all too easy to lose track of the GTA 6 gossip circulating these days, though our very own Joe Donnelly's Grand Theft Autopsy series can help you out on that front. Still, you only need to stick your nose into a subreddit to find that many fans are clamoring for something decidedly darker, grittier, and altogether more mature in GTA 6. Personally? Nah, no thanks.

I get it. GTA is one of the longest-running and best-loved games out there, and perhaps it would be cool to see it grow up alongside its players. However, that just doesn't feel like Vice City to me. Shifting tone to strike at something a little darker and brooding in GTA 7 sounds like a plan, but I would be incredibly sad to see Vice City turned into Night City in GTA 6. Thankfully, the one and only GTA 6 trailer we've been treated to so far shows off a new yet familiar side to Vice City: it's still teeming with larger-than-life characters and stereotypes, albeit in a much bigger and flashier cityscape playground, and I hope this translates in the odd bizarre mission that recaptures the wacky essence of Publicity Stunt – minus the worrying mention of "groupies to abuse". Thanks but no thanks, Love Fist.

Check out how we rank the best GTA games ever as we wait for more news on GTA 6.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.