In the mid-noughties, there were plenty of modders for Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto Trilogy, before GTA 4 had been announced. There were ways to play as Superman in San Andreas or have cars from movies and TV shows such as Knight Rider for example, but Back to the Future is something I randomly saw on a forum.
The films are one of my all-time favorite series, and I was expecting this mod to simply be a reskin of the Deluxo car and nothing else.
How wrong I was - and it's because of this that I'm still playing it fifteen years on, and how much I hope for some more updates to come to it soon, way before GTA 6 arrives.
88 miles an hour in Miami Beach
You need to have a clean install of GTA Vice City on a Windows PC in order for the installer to do its thing. There's multiple versions of the mod that feature different cars, trains and more, but 0.2e is the best and most reliable version I've found that works on Windows 11.
You'll know it's worked when you're greeted with a different startup screen, and the main character, Tommy Vercetti is reskinned as Marty McFly. You're already thrown into a mission where you have to drive a Delorean to the trash tip in order to collect some plutonium.
The controls can be cumbersome as the options menu doesn't list how to control the time circuits, but CTRL and TAB are usually the go-tos for this mod. When you exit the trash tip, the Libyans from the first film appear to destroy the time machine.
You need to switch on the time circuits, go to 88MPH and go back to the future. And it's as fun as it sounds.
However, that isn't the end of the mod. This also features the Deloreans from the other films, so you can press 5 for example with the Back to the Future Part 2 car, and it will switch to flying mode. It's impressive in how seamless it goes from driving to flying, and you'll find yourself trying to time travel by switching to driving mode, high up in the air.
There's also the Time Train from the finale of the third film, and while it's awkward to operate, it's still a great touch, and a funny scenario as you're trying to escape police helicopters around Miami Beach.
One bonus is when the Delorean gets damaged. If you input a time and date and time travel, you're transported to what the mod calls, the 'nth dimension, where you can barely see through a multi-colored fog, and you need to go to a pay and spray to not only travel through time again, but back to Vice City.
Another is a DMC-13 car that's unique to the mod, and while you can fly and time travel, you can also select any location when the car goes to 88 miles an hour, adding another side of fun too for when you're trying to outrun a five-star wanted level.
There was also an update that's since been recalled, where you could reenact the finale of the first film, by driving the Delorean past the clocktower for the lightning to strike the time machine.
The team of Hill Valley has grown since I first played it in 2008, and while the mod's website is barely updated, its forums and YouTube page tease a new update that will add Hill Valley to the Vice City map, such as the Clocktower and Twin Pines Mall, alongside custom missions to reflect the films and a better Delorean model.
In an age of the Steam Deck, Windows 11 and M2 Macs, it's getting increasingly challenging to get this working, as I've been experiencing crashes every time I'd try to load a save. However, it's the fun of traveling through time in Vice City that makes me go through the starting mission repeatedly.
It's a mod that brings two series together in a fun and innovative way, and regardless of being able to play part of this mod in GTA 4 and GTA 5, it's Vice City that I always come back to, because it's the most fun and the most nostalgic to me.
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Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.