Welcome to GTA week, or otherwise known as “forget all of your social obligations and just play GTA V week.” Either way, what a time to be alive. As you may have noticed, we often post our reviews close to a week later than major publications. There is plethora of reasons for that (mainly time though). So, instead, this week I am going to tear myself away from GTA V briefly each day to post a series related article to tickle your fancy (and hopefully only fancy). At the end of each article you will find the preview for what’s to come tomorrow. Which I saying you will get to influence that list.
GTA games are simply massive. The worlds of other open world games would normally drown in the real estate Rockstar works with. Similarly, there is always a lot to do, a lot to see and a hell of a lot of missions to breeze through. All of the missions are also bookended by wonderfully written dialogue and set up. Within the massive world of over 50 missions per game, it is difficult to make one thing stand out, but Rockstar can consistently accomplish that. So without much delay, here are our top 10 most memorable GTA missions:
10. Black Project (GTA: San Andreas)
This one comes pretty deep into the game. At this point you have unlocked most of the world and CJ met the crazy cook known as the Truth. In this mission you are tasked with infiltrating Area 69 (I see what you did there) and stealing a piece of experimental technology. There is so much to like about this mission. You get to infiltrate a secret military base and shoot it out with the soldiers, all not knowing what awaits you on the end. And when you get there, your reward is possibly the best ever in the game: a jetpack! Which is totally worth the grand reveal of the mission.
9. Pest Control (GTA V)
If you don’t want SPOILERS for GTA V, quickly turn away. This is the only mission from the new title to make it on. Mostly because it is still in my memory, but also because I haven’t had time to look back on everything that has happened in the new installment.
This is the first heist mission in GTA V. After getting into some trouble, Michael has to pay back a large sum of money and the only way he knows how to do it is by robbing a jewelry store. This mission is tiered and starts with you casing the place, then figuring out an approach and acquiring all the necessary tools and equipment through a few additional side missions. It’s great. Eventually, it all comes down to the heist and if all goes according to plan, you make away with quite a bit of cash.
What makes this so memorable is because it’s the first encounter with a heist system in GTA. Yes, it’s not perfect, and it doesn’t quite stack up to tension highs of some other robbery missions (see later), but watching a plan unfold and being in the thick of the action throughout, as well as living out the consequences of your choice of approach. It’s one of the most exhilarating early experiences of V.
8. Holland Play (GTA IV)
This is another one that may turn some heads, but it’s a significant mission in GTA IV. This is one of the first times you get to decide who lives and who dies (in a major way). At this point you have been working for Playboy X and for Dwayne Forge, two old friends. At some point, Playboy will ask you to kill his mentor, shortly Dwayne will flip the table.
This isn’t a particular challenging mission, but it is an emotional one. Playboy has been paying you (very handsomely as well) and helping you out through the game, but it is clear that both Nico and Dwayne are a lot more alike and develop a friendship (if you care for that kind of thing in the narrative) so it’s really a choice between money and friends, and either way, it turns out to be quite an emotional conundrum.
7. Copland (Vice City)
The series was on a silly high with Vice City, allowing you to live out every 80s gangster movie possible. Once you got yourself a nice mansion, you start handling business for yourself. Unfortunately, one of your associates messed up a simple job, attracting too much police attention. Of course you’re the one who has to sort it out.
The mission has everything and it develops into a climax fast. First, you have to build up a heat level to get police officers into a hide out, stealing their uniforms. Then, you travel to a mall to activate the bombs. Sound simple enough. Unfortunately, once it’s all said and done, Tommy picks up a hefty 5-star wanted level and has to evade the cops. It’s a phenomenal piece of escalation which turns into a heart pounding escape as you work to evade cops and FBI throughout the city.
6. Sexy Time (The Ballad of Gay Tony)
The only GTA IV expansions mission on this list and for good reason. The Ballad of Gay Tony is a fantastic piece of DLC which brings up the otherwise somber tones of the fourth installment. This is when the game started to dip back into the outrageousness of previous titles. As one mission, you have to steal an attack helicopter and deliver it to Yusuf Amir. Half-way on your way back though, Yusuf decides that he also wants you to blow some people up so you dutifully turn around, fly back and light up a very expensive yacht with a military scale attack from a combat chopper. It’s fun, it’s ridiculous and it lets you blow things up.
5. Saint Mark’s Bistro (San Andreas)
This was a treat for series fans. On behest of a wealthy benefactor, CJ gets to travel to Liberty City to sort out a mafia problem. No, you don’t get to see all of the fictional New York, but you do visit a very memorable location from the first game. Once there, a big firefight ensues as you mow your way through the bistro and to your target. A throwback in many ways to GTA III and the acknowledgement of how far the series has come, the brief Liberty City vacation was a much welcomed break from the sunny coast of Los Santos.
4. The Exchange (GTA III)
Not to spoil much, but the next three entries have a lot in common. The Exchange is the final mission in III. You get to trade some dough, and other things, for your girlfriend to your crazy ex-girlfriend. This is the confrontation you’ve been working towards the whole game. As you get closer you realize it’s not as easy as it sounds, probably around the point where hundreds of Columbian thugs decide it’s in their best interest to end your life. And that’s before you even get to the chopper…
Eventually though, you rescue your beloved and walk off into the credits… Or do you?
3. Keep Your Friends Close (Vice City)
A tribute to end all tributes, this was where Vice City decided to deliver one of the greatest odes to popular culture. Seemingly on top of the world, Tommy Vercetti get’s betrayed by his close friend to his greatest enemy. As the mission begins, thugs storm your mansion and attempt to subdue the empire you’ve worked so hard to build. Not on your watch. Tommy, armed with an arsenal mows down thug after thug as he deals with the perpetrators and eventually gets to his closest friend. This was a monumental achievement, a fan letter and an exhilarating ending to the game. And going through it for the first time was an experience like none other.
2. End of the Line (San Andreas)
Rockstar really got into the habit of escalation when it came to finales and San Andreas capped the unofficial trilogy off with a bang. Ready to settle everything, CJ and Sweet drive to the biggest crack fortress in Los Santos to take down Big Smoke. Once inside, CJ has to fight through floors and floors of gang members. Eventually, you get to the climactic showdown which illustrates the folly of ambition. Just when you exhale however, the game isn’t over. Officer Tenpenny copes around and triggers one last chase.
In the last act of the final mission you get to chance the crooked cop through a burning mansion, a crowd of gang members and eventually on wheels as the man runs for his life. After all of that, and you’re in the clear, it all ends where it started in a very symbolic fashion.
1. Three Leaf Clover (GTA IV)
I think this one could have been predicted and is already topping many lists not just as one of the best mission in GTA, but one of the best missions in any game anywhere. In many ways, I think we have Three Leaf Clover to thank for all of the fantastic heist scenarios in GTA V. Lifted straight out of a Michael Mann movie, the heist is an exhilarating experience that start according to plan and leads to you escaping on foot through Liberty City subway tunnels.
It’s pulse pounding, intense and overall gratifying as you get away in the end, but not without casualties. What it comes down to, is execution, every moment feels tense, as you find yourself in a broad daylight shoot out with the cops while running down the street looking for cover. Not only that, but also need to cover your cohorts as you move. In the end, just when you think the foot chase is done, it’s on to at least five more minutes of intense evasion.
Three Leaf Clover is an experience like none other and is, in my opinion, the best and most memorable mission in the GTA franchise.
So there you have it, agree? Disagree? Did we miss something? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.
Also, tomorrow, we will be profiling the top 10 most memorable characters in the GTA universe (excluding the main protagonists) so feel free to weigh-in in the comment section as well.