The game emulates the movie Scarface (1983): a low life thug leaves a place he doesn't want to be (Prison/Cuba) and moves to Miami (or in VC's case, Vice City), gets caught up in a riot, wears flowery shirts, and begins to take over the city, with a chaotic ending battle. The apartment where Tony's friend was killed is featured, along with the area known as Little Havana that was featured at the beginning of the film, and two nightclubs (The Malibu, Pole Position Club) are clones of two nightclubs in the film (The Babylon, and the Little Havana Club).
You get the following with 100% completion: 200 Health, 200 Armor, All vehicles can take double the normal damage, a T-Shirt pick up that says "I beat Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt", Infinite ammo on all weapons and sometimes there will be three body guards sitting in were the Colt Python and Health is (in the Vercetti Estate) with pink markers in front of them. If you step into one of the pink markers, you will lose $1,000 and one of the body guards will stand up and follow you around everywhere and shoot at people that you shoot at.
If, while in the office of the Vercetti Estate, you stand in front of the bank of security monitors and look at them through the sniper rifle scope, you will see that the image displayed on some of the monitors is that of the final shot of Scarface (1983): the main hallway in Tony Montana's mansion, featuring the sweeping staircase, the 'The World Is Yours' statue, and the small swimming pool.
In the cutscene for the mission 'Supply and Demand', Diaz shoots an unplugged VCR because it wouldn't eject "My favorite El Burro movie". El Burro is a gang leader in Grand Theft Auto 3 (2001), who specialized in pornographic videos.
When released on the computer, many people complained about the difficulty of a mission involving a remote-controlled toy helicopter. The player is supposed to pilot the aforementioned toy into a building with explosives. Many keyboards could not handle as many simultaneous button presses as the controls required the player to press, causing them to crash the helicopter. Many game-modifying programs ("Trainers") were designed exclusively to make the mission easier to complete.
After entering the upstairs office of the Malibu Club, look on the left wall and you will see a large mural of palm trees tinted red by the setting sun. It is the same mural that adorns the office wall of Lopez Motors, owned by Frank Lopez, Tony Montana's boss in Scarface (1983).
On one of the talk-show stations in the game (VCPR), Jeremy Robard, a "motivational speaker" names a few of his treatment tapes. All of the titles, when abbreviated, are names of drugs. "Motivate, Demonstrate, then Motivate Again" becomes MDMA (Ectasy), "Think, Hold that thought, Complete" becomes THC, and "Learn, Start, Do" becomes LSD.
In the opening cutscenes, Tommy Vercetti is picked up from Escobar International Airport to make a cocaine deal. This is a reference to a real life cocaine dealer Pablo Escobar who was the richest cocaine trafficker during the 1980s through the early 1990s.
In the mission "Autocide", the men Tommy has to kill all have names similar to those of characters from games that are based on the Grand Theft Auto games: Mike Griffin (Mace Griffin from Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter (2003)) Dick Tanner (Tanner from Driver (1999) and its sequels) Marcus Hammond, Franco Carter and Charlie Dilson (Mark Hammond, Frank Carter and Charlie Jolson from The Getaway (2002)) Nick Kong (Nick Kang from True Crime: Streets of LA (2003))
In the mission 'The Shootist' where Tommy must impress Phil Cassidy at the shooting range, the cardboard targets are characters from Grand Theft Auto 3 (2001). Cassidy also made an appearance in that game, in the mission 'Arms Shortage'.
The character of Ken Rosenberg is based on David Kleinfeld, from Carlito's Way (1993). In addition to the physical similarities, both are cocaine addicts. Furthermore, Rosenberg's office looks just like Kleinfeld's.
The Deluxo car (found on the showroom floor after you purchase Sunshine Autos) is a reference to the DeLorean, a unique car that was popular for a short time. It was manufactured from 1981 to 1984. It's popularity grew after it "starred" as the time machine in Back to the Future (1985). The Deluxo reappears in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006).
An English masochist named Freddy, calls into K-Chat wanting to be hit by a broom. In Grand Theft Auto 3 (2001), another English masochist named Freddy discusses being spanked by his nanny on Chatterbox. However, the voices are slightly different, so it can be assumed to be the same person twenty years earlier.
The police cars in the game are green and white. However, their original color design was white with red and blue stripes. A picture of the original color scheme can be seen on page 8 of the game's instruction manual ("Vice City Tourist Guide").
There are several references to the humor website Somethingawful.com including the title SA Goon when your score is between 1000 and 1010, and there is a newspaper called Front Page News, a reference to the Front Page of Somethingawful.
The logo of the Vice City developers, Rockstar Games and Rockstar North, can be found around the city: *On Dwaine's T-shirt *On the door of the V-Rock recording studio *"Roxor International's" logo is shaped like the Rockstar logo *An airline is called "DMAir Rockstar", Rockstar North was formerly known as DMA Design *In the old water channel *In the shop window of Funeraria Romero *On a sign in Fort Baxter *On the jacket of the Ammu-Nation seller