Vic Vance is a corporal in the U.S Army. He is a man who came from a poor family, with his brother suffering from asthma and another lazy brother, and he is trying to make money for his dysfunctional family. He just arrived in Vice City in 1984 and he is now stationed at Fort Baxter. He arrives at the office of his supervisor, Sergeant Jerry Martinez, a corrupt officer of the Army who is a drug smuggler. He instructs Vic to manage a drug deal. Vic arrives on the buyer's yacht, but they are ambushed by unknown assailants who blow up the boat, leaving only Vic alive...
Vice City Stories is structured similarly to other releases from the Grand Theft Auto series.
The core gameplay consists of elements of a third-person shooter and a driving game, affording the player a large, open environment in which to move around. On foot, the player's character is capable of walking, running, swimming (albeit for a limited amount of time) and jumping, as well as utilizing weapons and basic hand-to-hand combat. Players can drive a variety of vehicles, including automobiles, boats, planes,helicopters, jetskis, and motorcycles.
The open, non-linear environment allows players to explore and choose how they wish to play the game. Although storyline missions are necessary to progress through the game and unlock certain areas and content, they are not required, as players can complete them at their own leisure. When not taking on a storyline mission, players can free-roam.