Five Spectacular Missions From Past Grand Theft Auto Games

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Grand Theft Auto V is now available, which very well could mean that by the time you are reading this, you could already be playing it. Do you realize that even though I am speaking 100% hypothetically, I am still envious of you at this exact moment? I don’t actually have the game yet, and realistically, you may not either, yet I am jealous knowing you could. Sad, huh?

In theory, knowing you could already have it makes me hate you, which is a really insane theory, but still, wouldn’t you hate me if you knew I was playing it already? If you knew all the awesome shit I was doing? Knowing I was openly switching between the three characters? Knowing I could go anywhere in the game map the minute the game begins? Would you be seething with jealousy if you knew I was doing that right now? Well, that is how I feel.

Until I do get my hands on the game, all I have are my amazing memories of the entire GTA series. The absolutely insane memories of stunt-jumping over a construction site in slow motion. Or having to take lascivious pictures of a very questionable man. Or the hours I spent, just driving and helplessly killing thousands of pedestrians until an obscene amount of police were sent in to nuke me off the map. I have memories of side characters, and bitchy virtual girlfriends. I have AWFUL memories of a phone that wouldn’t stop ringing. Hell, I even have a DISTINCT memory of a particular 80′s pop music icon and a show I attended, but that is me getting ahead of myself.

Basically, all I am doing now is killing time until I can own GTA V. How I am killing time today is by looking back on some of my favorite GTA missions of all time. Keep in mind, this is an opinion piece. These are the coolest and most enjoyable missions…IN MY OPINION.

When you’re done reading, feel free to take to the comments and let me know which missions blew your mind or made you lulz. We are all family. Let’s share the Grand Theft Auto love.

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Keep Your Friends Close – Vice City

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I know that many people hold San Andreas as the best Grand Theft Auto of all time, but I have a SERIOUS soft spot for Vice City, so please don’t hate me. You need to remember, I grew up in the 90′s, but experienced the 80′s as a wee little kid, so there is a definite allure there for me, and every single thing we all know about the 80′s, Vice City got just right.

First off, you had the soundtrack, and if you hate 80′s new wave and glam, then the soundtrack sucked for you, but if you took the entire thing as one giant, finely-tuned satire, it was an absolute joy. It took itself a little less seriously than all other GTAs. It seemed to have more fun with itself. Hell, even the neon color palette and cheesy suits worked incredibly well in this game. Was it as well-written as GTA IV? No. Was it as gritty as San Andreas? No. Was it as awe-inducing as the first time you played GTA III? No. But it what it lacked in all those areas, it made up for in fun, and, as I have said before, isn’t that why we game? To have fun?

Anyway, the Grand Theft Auto games always had absolutely epic climaxes, and Keep Your Friends Close from Vice City is a perfect example of that. Though the whole game alluded to its Scarface influences, that final mission pretty much puts you in the Scarface finale (just look at the staircase from that pic and any Scarface fan can tell you, Rockstar obviously knew what they were doing and were very much doing it on purpose). It just felt, in those moments, that you had really become that kingpin you were trying to be the whole game, but you also felt the pressure as if every single person in the world was gunning for you at once. Which, in that scene, they really kinda were.

And my God, it was badass.

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Dropping In – Ballad of Gay Tony

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I feel like people who played the Ballad of Gay Tony DLC for GTA IV know what is in store for them in GTA V. They tightened the targeting system. They improved the graphics. They have characters that are more flushed out and actually enjoyable to spend time with, and they even improved sky diving and figured out ways to implement it into missions more organically. Listen, sky diving in any form is fun, but it is a whole lot less pants-shitting when you do it in a game. So if they feel like they get the mechanic right, which they did with Gay Tony, it is a f**king blast. And with a name like Dropping In, you knew some key sky diving was set to happen in this mission, and it did.

This mission was great for three things. Three simple things, yet they were so epic that you never forget them. You sky dive from a chopper onto the roof the building of the person you need to kill. You kill him by tossing his ass out a window, 20 stories up. Then you jump out of a fu**ing window and parachute down to the flatbed of a truck. BAM, in and out, Bond-style. That scene is so exciting, you almost want to re-read that paragraph, 2 or 3 times, just to experience it again, and that is exactly what the level itself is like. Like I said before, Hollywood could learn from this shit.

It was SUCH a good mission, it actually made me sad that a good number of GTA fans missed out on this DLC thinking it was the same old thing, because it was pretty clear Gay Tony is them fine-tuning some ideas for GTA V, which has me even more pumped to play the game.

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Black Project – San Andreas

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I like surreal, weird shit. I like pop culture references, and I like science fiction. And while San Andreas was mostly a gritty crime caper about one man seeking redemption, and the people he surrounds himself with not letting that happen, it had its goofier moments.  And as much as we all want to pretend we are the ONE gamer who saw Bigfoot in this game, that’s bullshit. Bigfoot doesn’t come around until some Red Dead DLC many years later. BUT, San Andreas did have one pretty fantastic and out-there moment, highlighted by you acquiring an item unlike any in a GTA game to date.

I am, of course, talking about the jet pack you take from area 69 (because, of course it is named that) during the Black Project level of San Andreas. I liked it because it stood in contrast to what the game was up to that point, which was quite realistic. The funny thing is, they did the level so well, and treated it with the same respect as any other, that it ended up feeling like it was an actual part of this world you were in. Plus, you got a jet pack. A motherf**king jet pack.

Unfortunately, if GTA V does something like this, some virginal nerd will take to some comment board on some dusty corner of some website somewhere and scream about how it is a Saints Row ripoff. We can find that nerd and beat him while he weeps, reminding him with crushing blows from our elbows that GTA is the Father of all of this, and Saints Row wasn’t even a sperm in its Daddy’s danglers when San Andreas, and this mission, came out.

Booyakasha.

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Get Lost – The Lost and the Damned

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Again, another DLC not enough of you played, Lost and the Damned was Sons of Anarchy, the game. No, really. You were always with your gang. You always drove your bikes. There were rival gangs, and there were tensions within the gang that came to a boil, resulting in various plot twists and double crosses. What I found most interesting about The Lost and the Damned is there were really no heroes. Even the guys you played as were really hard to like, and though it added a darker tone to the game, when you don’t feel for your characters, you are less attached as a player. Having said that, a mission where you need to break IN to jail? Come on, you cannot deny that is original and sounds fun as hell. And it was.

But it was NOT what you expected.

Further proving this was a darker, more action oriented GTA game, you did not beat up a guard, steal his outfit, and quietly break into jail. No,  you used a rocket launcher, blew the doors off, and then KILLED YOUR WAY THROUGH THE JAIL. Seriously, no lame stealth, or waiting, looking around a corner for fifteen minutes waiting for some dumb guard to fall back in to his walking pattern. No, this was a “we need to get into jail. Let’s kill everything” kind of situation.

And it was really nice in those moments to feel like you were part of a badass motorcycle gang, just looking to get one of your own back, and willing to kill anything that gets in your way. If you have not played Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, you have no idea what you’re missing.

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Three Leaf Clover – GTA IV

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You know, it has crossed every single human being’s mind before, at least once, how cool it would be to pull off a heist. To calculate all the moves perfectly and be one step ahead of the people you are trying to rip off. Just the idea that, if done correctly, it is like a ballet. A finely tuned machine where, as long as things go according to plan, no one gets hurt. But the reality about heists, and why they are always awesome to see in movies, and even more fun to play in games, is because something HAS to go wrong (unless Brad Pitt or Clooney are leading the operation). That is the kicker about a heist. If they were easy to pull off, heists would constantly be going on everywhere, but they aren’t.

Though GTA has had many heist missions before this particular mission in GTA IV, Three Leaf Clover was about as perfect and movie-like as video game levels go. Thinking you may pull it off, and then having to fight your way through Chinatown was insane, intense, and amazing. Finally, feeling like the odds are against you and you have no chance, you take to the subway tunnels under Liberty City and walk away with a genuine sense of accomplishment. It is a complex series of events, but when it finally ends, and you finish that level, you really felt like you pulled off the impossible. Made you want to put the controller down for a second and just take a breath, didn’t it?

So many people loved and raved about the Three Leaf Clover level from GTA IV that it become the blueprint for the heists (which happen regularly) in part five. That is also why you can swap controls between three characters at any time in GTA V, to really give the player the sense that they are in control of these heists and how they go down. So, in essence, I really hope you liked the Three Leaf Clover mission from GTA IV, because if you don’t, you probably won’t be a fan of GTA V.

Honorable Mention:

I REALLY wanted to put the In The Air Tonight level from Vice City Stories on this list, because you get to f**king PROTECT PHIL COLLINS FROM ASSASSINS, but I knew too few of you had played that game, and even fewer of you would get the ironic and iconic humor, so I let it go, but I want you to know that is eating at me. Eating at me so bad.

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