Well folk, Rockstar Games magnum opus Grand Theft Auto V is quickly approaching, and with it comes what can only be described as their most ambitious open world, crime-tale yet. The GTA franchise has excelled at creating vast playgrounds for all of our criminal desires, from the grim and gritty cityscapes of Liberty City, to the lavish beachfronts of Vice City in the 80’s, but it’s not just the size of GTA that makes it remarkable, it’s also the moments that we, the player experienced while making our way up the not-so corporate ladder. There are some moments that every GTA fan will agree made them either pause in awe, or made them feel like their inner kingpin was finally realized. Here are five GTA missions and moments that players couldn’t help but want to relive over and over.
5) Give Me Liberty, Grand Theft Auto 3
Not a mission per se, but our first few moments in a fully realized Liberty City. Up until this point, GTA had been a top-down, two dimensional affair. Still full of life and the humor that we’d come to know and love, but this was the first time we could feel fully immersed in the world. From the opening cinematic of your botched bank robbery(due to your girlfriend shooting you seemingly in the face), to the jail break that puts you behind the wheel of your first car to drive you and your new pal with the burned hands, 8-Ball to safety. GTA 3 started with a bang that let the gaming world know something big was happening. I had dozens of friends who literally drove around as much as possible before even ending that first mission properly. Going around causing mayhem in an orange jumpsuit just because they could.
4) Birth of a Salesman, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
If you’d asked someone if there would be a GTA title on any Nintendo platform, let alone a handheld you could probably still find them laughing somewhere. Initially released in 2009 for the Nintendo DS and eventually for other platforms later that year, Chinatown Wars saw GTA go back to its top-down roots. While the cel-shaded look may have made the overall violence of the franchise easier to take, Rockstar introduced another element that took up the mantel; a full-fledged drug market. A key mechanic in Chinatown Wars was the buying and selling of narcotics at differing prices depending on where they’re bought and sold. The player would literally open a briefcase and reveal a smorgasbord of corner “treats”, buying low and selling high. Sure, you couldn’t get the rush of popping off headshots from 100 yards away, but learning how to put a stranglehold on the local drug racket makes for a well-rounded criminal empire. All of that from an atomic pink Mario Machine.
3) A Glitch in the System, Grand Theft Auto IV
Not all of the most memorable moments in the Grand Theft Auto franchise were done on purpose. With GTA IV, Rockstar introduced us to a living metropolis of Liberty City, almost completely mirroring its analog, New York City, matching landmarks and well-known areas down to some of the most minor details. While every GTA game came with its fair share of physics exploits and glitches in earlier versions(especially with the motorcycles in Vice City), something about these same glitches taking place in the gritty realism of Liberty 2.0 stood out. None more than the swing set catapult. For some reason, a particular swing set, on a particular playground near a housing project would send your car flying through the city if you drove at it just the right way. This and other projectile glitches allowed players to enjoy the RAGE engine in all its glory.
2) Wanna Be Startin’ Something/ Say Hello to the Bad Guy, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Just over a year after Rockstar shocked the world with GTA 3, they released Vice City, a huge, ambitious love letter/slap to the face of the 80’s. Now, playing as Tommy Vercettin (voiced by Ray Liotta), you were free to take over Rockstar’s re imagining of Miami. Your first taste of 80’s glory was getting into your first car and hearing Michael Jackson on the radio. A huge acquisition in and of itself to have not one but two songs by the King of Pop in their game. Now, some people say they heard Billy Jean, I remember Wanna Be Startin’ Something, either way, they game let you know right away that you were back in the age of decadence and things were about to pick up.
Keeping with the 80’s theme, the entire game is a call back to gangster movies of the time, none more prevalent than the classic Scarface. Several weapons, scenes, locations, and missions are modeled directly after the movie, culminating in a final mission where you have to defend your mansion(which looks exactly like Tony Montana’s) from wave after wave of henchmen. After it’s all said and done, you stand at the top of your red staircase, gun held high to look over your criminal empire. The whole thing oozed of cool.
1)Three Leaf Clover, Grand Theft Auto IV
Arguably, the best top to bottom mission in any GTA game, Three Leaf Clover has been confirmed as a huge reason for the heist setup that players will go through in Grand Theft Auto V. Starting out with several smaller missions that Niko and company pull off to get supplies, the mission itself culminates in a huge bank robbery, followed by a massive shootout through the city streets, running through the subways, and finally a high speed chase. Each section more exhilarating than the last. The vision of you as Niko, huge duffle bag filled with money draped over your shoulder, in a black suit with your co-conspirators, assault rifle in hand, THIS was the mission every GTA fan dreamed of. It was clearly homage to the Michael Mann film, Heat in one of the most iconic action scenes in the past two decades, and we got to play it out. I for one still have a save file right before that mission just so I can do it again and again. It was that good.
Well, there you have it. This list could have easily been ten or twenty spots; the over the top antics of San Andreas, the top down satire from GTA 2, we know there’s some good stuff missing, so sound off in the comments or on twitter @StructureGaming and tell us some of your favorite GTA moments or missions. And remember, for all your GTA news, get it here #WhereGamingLives