Some critics' thoughts:
- 1UP (90/100) - "The empire-building facet, though reminiscent of purchasing businesses in the first Vice City, is quite significant ... The other additions aren't nearly as significant, but they are welcome ... [but] some serious series flaws stubbornly refuse to budge, a fact that grows harder to ignore with each passing entry ... It's a shame Rockstar chose not to fix obvious flaws that have been called out repeatedly, but the weight of the total experience more than counterbalances this disappointment".
- Game Informer (second opinion) (82.5/100) - "I've pimped, extorted, and murdered my way to the top so many times now, the thrill of criminal indulgence has finally begun to fade. This is more of the same from the franchise, with a few more serious themes thrown in. But if you've already drunk your fill of the free-roaming gangbuster cup, then this mix is going to taste a little stale."
- GamePro (75/100) - "[It's] a big shame that lot of that personality has gone missing ... the characters and dialogue don't have the same snap nor does the game exhibit the same goofy and utterly loveable 80's style. Instead, the game is gritty and dull to a fault ... Vice City Stories retains the same problems that plagued past titles. The auto-aim function doesn't work well, the AI isn't particularly smart, and some missions are completed more through trial and error than anything else."