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Vice City Stories - Empire Building

One of the main new features in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is Empire Building - a totally new game mode which builds upon the property acquisition features seen in Vice City and San Andreas.

Empire Building gives you even more control over the properties which you acquire during the game and while the name "Empire Building" is unlikely to be seen anywhere on screen during gameplay, it is a very significant feature.

Vice City is littered with businesses trying to earn residents' money in both legal and illegal ways. As is typical in the Grand Theft Auto universe, many of these firms are controlled by gangs and it is these that you'll be able to control. There are over 30 different buildings which you can acquire and their location will affect the performance of any business set up there.

You can't just waltz in and claim to be boss though. You'll need to plan an attack on the building in order to kill all of the gang members inside and ensure that they won't be trading there again. Luckily you can enlist the help of your own gang members in a similar system to San Andreas.

While some property acquisitions are part of the storyline, others can be initiated as and when you want to. To start the process you have to destroy the gang's car that's sitting outside in order to get their attention. Some workers or gang members will come out in order to defend the building and you'll have to kill them all in order to progress inside.

The plan is much the same once you're inside - kill everyone and do as much damage to the property as you can so that it can't carry on trading. Once the floor is covered in corpses you'll have two decisions to make - what business you want to build on the site and how big you want it to be. Up front costs range from $2000 for a small business to $5800 for a "High Roller" and you can also choose a medium size for $3900.

Rockstar say there will be six different types of business that you'll be able to create (Protection, Prostitution, Drugs, Loan Sharking and Robbery) with each having their own very individual side missions. For example, the prostitution business sees you driving girls to and from clients. As you can imagine, many clients are well off and live Downtown so having your premises there would give a distinct advantage over the competition.

There is a set amount of money floating around for each business type and the more influential your business, the larger the piece of the pie you're going to be able to receive. There can only be five different businesses of the same type operating simultaneously throughout the city so if five rival gangs are running Extortion businesses you'll have to shut one of theirs down first in order to start your own.

Once you've decided what type of business you want to set up and how big you want it to be construction will begin - complete with signage outside mentioning that the site is under development. Returning two game-days later should see the process completed and your new business trading, complete with your own staff. Rockstar haven't yet made it clear how much influence the player will have in the hiring of staff although they have mentioned that the business will have its own running costs. Security staff are a must because the gang who you stole the property from will be eager to get it back.

In the event your property comes under attack you'll receive notification by pager. The folks back at base may be able to defend it on their own but your intervention will more than likely be required in most cases. Failure to return to base and kill enemies will see them taking control of it and your investment gone forever. Of course though, you'll be free to try to take it back for yourself.

There are a number of perks of being the boss - you can recruit staff to follow you around in much the same way as San Andreas and they should be loyal enough to cover your back. There's also the company car which spawns outside - each one will be relevant to the type of business you have. If you're feeling tired you'll be able to kip down for the night and save your game at any of your businesses locations, meaning that there are more than thirty potential safehouses in Vice City Stories. Changes can be made to the way the business operates (more detail on exactly what this means in future) at the notice board.