If nothing else (aside from the excellent Jet Ski vehicle), the stunt mission showed that Rockstar are taking advantage of all the means of transportation available in its mission structure. PJ says this will be integral to Vice City Stories: "A lot of the missions from Liberty City Stories were fairly short, this time they have a lot more depth ... obviously water also plays a big part in Vice City Stories, and you'll get missions that aren't just on land or aren't just on water".
It adds a great deal of variety to the mix, and this aspect of land-to-water-hopping was shown to us again in another mission called "Steal the Deal", wherein you get to see Lance and Diaz from GTA:VC and help them steal a package from a rival boss called Gonzalez. Here, we ended up driving to a location Lance directed us to, then ended up following Gonzalez's goon from a strip club to a secret location in the ocean - meaning we had to follow his tail without being caught over land and sea. The doped up, sexed up sucker we were following was understandably a bit poor at the wheel, making for some hilarious crazy driving - Rockstar's tongue-in-cheek humour is in full play here, right down to Lance's "Barry Scott!" style shouting of every sentence.
There are some classic shorter missions though, such as "Waking the Neighbours". Here, Vic befriends a new GTA character - a sleazy, lowlife drug dealer pimp - who gives him odd jobs to do, and this particular mission arms you with grenades as you 'take care' of a rival gang that has set up business on your turf. Cue instances of gunning people down, lobbing grenades and blowing up vans and legging it when their backup comes and attempts to gun you down drive-by stylee.
We ended up taking refuge in a car, which helped us get from one target to another safely, but not without getting the crap shot out of us by angry goons - the car began to wobble out of control as it took damage. It's this combination of shorter missions and longer tasks that will help give the game much more variety, PJ explains. And we have to agree - shorter missions would be great for quick blasts on the train while epic journeys can be had should you be stuck at a boring party with no booze.
The final mission we saw probably made us more excited than anything else. "Taking the Fall" is a task where Lance teams up with Vic, with the original Vice City star saying something about a group of bikers stealing some cocaine. Lance then persuades Vic, on the back of this, to go and take the bikers out. For a job this big, you need a new vehicle - one that many GTA fans have been crying out a long time for. A Helicopter.
After getting into the chopper, we chased a bunch of bikers by air as they were riding along the road. Naturally, they weren't too happy about our presence, so in order for Lance to shoot them down we needed to keep the helicopter steady by way of a 'balance bar' on the screen when a shooting opportunity arises. PJ at this point said it was possible to land on rooftops and explore them, making for a massive opportunity for game exploration and adding a new plane (no pun intended) to the GTA game world. By the end of the mission, Lance falls out, the chopper is gunned down, and it's up to you to rescue Vic's bumbling brother from the bikers as you land on their turf...
"A lot of people wondered if it was possible to put a GTA game onto the PSP, and if so whether it was going to be a top-down view, or a limited version of the game. What Rockstar Leeds produced was the full living, breathing GTA world, which people didn't expect." PJ's words pretty much echo Liberty City Stories' initial (and continuing) success. It was a game that appeared to be a port, much like many other PS2 to PSP conversions, but in reality the only similarity was the game setting.
It's the same with Vice City Stories, only from what we've seen at Rockstar there's going to be much more stuff thrown into the mix. The addition of crossing land, sea and now even air to explore the city means that Grand Theft Auto really has evolved into 3D in terms of world space. Even more new features have been promised that we don't know about yet, and as we left the room we wondered how features that couldn't be done on the PS2 only a few years ago are now a firm reality on PSP. Technological advancement, that is. Right there in your sweaty palm.
Vice City Stories is due to hit the shelves in October, so big-time GTA fans looking forward to this next instalment need only wait another month or so. We'll have more news on new features as and when we get word of them too. Because we're nice like that.