2013 – Rockstar Games
It seems that everything in the gaming world right now is revolving around the free-roaming juggernaut that is Grand Theft Auto V, and most would say, for good reason. You can pretty much do whatever the heck you want to, and the level of detail they’ve managed to incorporate is unreal.
For example, you know the “tick tick tick” your car makes when you turn it off and it starts to cool down? Well, if you listen closely enough, you’ll hear that when getting out of a car in GTA V.
I don’t own the game yet, but I had a chance to play it for about 30 minutes at a friend’s place. Even in that small amount of time, I had several “awww man, that is too cool” moments, which the GTA games seem to be damn good at pulling off.
That being said, here are my favourite moments from the GTA series. I haven’t played any of the “Episodes” games, past-or-current gen, so there won’t be any moments from them on here. Sorry!
10. Crossing the East Borough Bridge (GTA IV)
While the simple act of crossing a bridge doesn’t sound all that exciting on the surface, it was at that moment that I got a sense of just how amazing GTA IV looked.
Broker, the island of Liberty City that you start on, looks fantastic enough as it is. It’s an older part of town, and it has that distinct New York-ey feel to it. The area and buildings are based on Brooklyn, and you definitely get that feeling from that particular island.
I don’t recall exactly what mission it is that makes you cross the East Borough Bridge for the first time, but getting that first look at the Liberty City skyline at sunset was quite the sight to behold.
Not the coolest-looking bridge, but it does give you a nice view of the main downtown area.
I was so distracted by the view that I turned the corner way too late, slammed the concrete barrier head-on and sent poor Niko flying out the car’s windshield and to his death. He almost made it to the river, but not quite… it was awesome, though!!!
9. Just Business (GTA: San Andreas)
While it’s not the most complex mission in the game, Just Business makes up for it with style.
After a quick standoff with members of the Russian Mafia, CJ escapes on the back of a motorcycle driven by Big Smoke. Your job is to pick off the chasing Mafia members through streets, alleyways, and eventually, the Los Santos Storm Drain.
Not long after you enter the “big concrete ditch” that is the Storm Drain, you’re treated to a short cutscene of a massive truck barreling down from an overpass.
JC (John Connor) and CJ (Carl Johnson)
Obviously, any fan of the Terminator franchise would know what that was a reference to. It was a nice nod to a film that, in many ways, set the bar for action movies in the 90’s.
Also, the final stretch of the mission has you making a dramatic ramped-jump over parked cars. For no reason whatsoever, they all explode as you clear the mayhem. Over-the-top and hilarious… love it!
Completely unnecessary, but awesome nonetheless.
8. Buying Every Property Available and Owning Vice City (GTA: Vice City)
If there’s one thing that’s incredibly satisfying about the GTA games, it’s working your way up from rags to riches. You don’t start with very much, but by the time the end credits roll around, chances are pretty good that your character is loaded.
Even though you got this feeling in GTA III, it was Vice City that took it to another level.
Instead of one home base on each island, Vice City introduced the ability to buy whatever apartment or house you could afford. Not only that, but you could also purchase various businesses around town, complete every mission they offered, then show up every now and then to collect the revenue the business generated.
My personal favourite asset from the game, Sunshine Autos;
win races, get cars, then drive them through the second floor window when you need one.
Claude Speed (the lame-named protagonist from GTA III) might have owned a few condos around Liberty City, but it was Tommy Vercetti that truly became King of the city he called home.
7. How about the power of flight? That do anything for you? (GTA: Vice City)
Even though GTA III had the Dodo airplane, anyone who ever rode in one knew it was obviously not destined to reach great heights. Some persevered and managed to get it going pretty good, discovering a few cool things in their travels.
The “Ghost Town” behind Shoreside Vale is actually where the game’s introductory heist scene takes place.
In Vice City however, you were finally given your first taste of proper flight. When the helicopter became readily available on top of Diaz’s mansion, you could have a bird’s eye view of things whenever you wanted.
You could steal an Apache-like chopper with lots of firepower later on in the game, but being able to fly and enjoy the sights was good enough for me. San Andreas (and probably GTA V) upped the freedom level a bit with planes and the ability to skydive, but I’ll never forget that first time in the skies over Vice City.
6. Free-fallin’ in Arco del Oeste (GTA: San Andreas)
Unique (or Stunt) Jumps were always super fun to pull off whenever you found one. There was always money to be made by doing them, and that slow-motion camera was pretty slick. Still, it was those non-designated (i.e. way less obvious) jumps that were even more fun to do.
Case in point, San Andreas’ Arco del Oeste.
The ramp to nowhere in the middle of nowhere.
I don’t quite remember if it was one of Mike Torino’s missions or what, but for some reason, I recall making it to the top of a mountain with (what else) a mountain bike. By pedaling to the peak, you see an abandoned old shack with a ridiculously long wooden ramp to nowhere.
When the mission eventually wrapped up, naturally, I went back to try flying off that ramp.
There’s really nothing to gain from doing it, since it’s just a long drop into the river below. It was just so damn liberating, though! I could’ve used the parachute supplied nearby, but it wasn’t necessary. I was having a blast just falling from such a great height without getting hurt.
5. Bomb da Base (GTA III)
Again, this isn’t the most complex mission in the world, but I found it pretty badass the first time I played through it.
Armed with a sniper rifle, it’s your job to protect your buddy 8-Ball from members of the Columbian Cartel from the roof of a warehouse nearby. As he sneaks aboard the massive cargo ship to plant explosives and blow it up, you’re dropping gang members left and right, shooting barrels of gasoline to make them explode…
Run 8-Ball, run!!! Eeeeeee!!!
You just tag-teamed the Cartel and sank a friggin’ cargo ship… amazing.
4. The Jetpack (GTA: San Andreas)
Though the helicopter in Vice City was fun, it did feel a bit big and cumbersome. It didn’t have a wide-range of attacks, but that was alright… we were just happy to be flying.
In San Andreas, the jetpack took things to a whole new level. No longer were we confined to a cockpit at the mercy of whatever that physics made the thing airborne in the first place. With this, we could explore every nook and cranny of the gaming world, attack with whatever weapon we wanted to in mid-air, and get around about as quickly and easily as we could ever have dreamed of.
Aside from having a great view, the top of this bridge holds a little secret.
3. G-Spotlight (GTA: Vice City)
Another great thing about Vice City was the inclusion of motorcycles. The good ol’ PCJ-900 was perfect for jumps, and it made slipping through traffic hassle-free a possibility. That was, of course, until a car turned at an intersection right in front of you and sent you flying… other than that, it was fantastic.
One of the missions that adult movie mogul Steve Scott sends you on starts off by having you casually ride a motorcycle into a skyscraper elevator. In the office area several stories up, you have to break through the window and jump to the adjacent building.
The idea is to keep jumping from building to building, eventually re-arranging a spotlight to promote Scott’s new film. It wasn’t the easiest mission, since every jump had to be perfect, but it was oh-so satisfying to get it all done.
*Warning: The following video contains crappy-looking partial nudity.*
2. The kid is not my son! (GTA: Vice City)
Being a nostalgic person, I think back to the 80’s and 90’s quite fondly. I think I look back more favourably on the 90’s, having done most of my “growing up” during that phase… not to mention, the music was particularly awesome.
When I think of the 80’s though, I think of two things.
The first is Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, and how my sisters listened to it non-stop. You literally can’t think of 80’s music without thinking of Billie Jean, Beat It, or the Thriller song itself. The whole album was incredible, come to think of it.
The second is Miami Vice, which my sisters and parents watched from time to time. There was something about the way it was shot, and the colours of Miami just lit up the screen… not to mention, Crockett and Tubbs’ flashy suits were a staple of fashion from the decade.
When I first played Vice City, I couldn’t get over how retro the game felt. I was plopped into a world with orange-tinted lens flare complimented by baby blues and neon pinks. It *looked* like my childhood.
80′s colours along Washington Beach, where the game begins.
On top of that, the game is programmed in a way that Billie Jean is the first song that plays on a car radio, no matter what ride you happened to hijack first. From that moment on, I knew Vice City would be something special.
Say what you will about Michael Jackson,
but the dude made Thriller. THRILLER.
1. But wait, there’s more! (GTA III)
The Callahan Bridge gets blown up in the game’s intro, and though you can explore beyond the cement barriers placed at its entrance, there’s no getting across to the other side for the first part of the game. That didn’t stop me from trying, of course, but I always failed.
In between missions, I’d explore like crazy. Hidden Packages, Unique Jump locations, Rampages tucked away in back alleys… there was a TON to see and do in Portland, so getting over to the other side wasn’t a high priority. I was sure I’d get there eventually anyway.
When I finally made it over to Staunton Island, I couldn’t get over how much more there was to see and do. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw yet another bridge on the opposite side of the island! How many of these islands were there? The first part of the game was so massive, and it was already the biggest and best playground I had ever experienced.
When the bridge to Shoreside Vale eventually opened up, I couldn’t believe it. It was quite the feeling.
The fold-out map that came with the game, but I didn’t get with the rental.
It must be noted that I found all this out that weekend I first played the game. The rental I had did not include the map of Liberty City shown above, which explains the “wow” factor I experienced when I found out about the newer islands.
So, there you have it. I haven’t even played through all the games in the series yet, and I’m sure there are plenty more moments like these waiting to be had.
That being said, what are some of your favourite moments?