GTA V - First To Last Full Story Explained In Simple English Language

 THE ENTIRE GTA 5 STORY EXPLAINED


BY NATHAN SIMMONS/OCT. 11, 2019 4:03 PM EDT

Since its release in 2013, Grand Theft Auto 5 has only grown in popularity. Much of this is due to its bonkers Online component, which has inspired troublemakers everywhere to get up to all sorts of mischief and mayhem. However, though GTA Online tends to own much of the spotlight these days (even overshadowing Rockstar's original plans to release single player DLC for the game), the base game's campaign actually has a very exciting storyline. 

With its sprawling open world, colorful cast of characters, double-crosses, film productions gone awry, and horrible government conspiracies, the plot of Grand Theft Auto 5 is much more intricate than you might think at first glance. With that in mind, let's break down this wild game, including notable heists and backgrounds for the characters that tie into the main events of the story. Buckle up.


GTA 5 kicks off with a robbery goes south


The story begins in 2004 when a crew of bank robbers — Michael Townley, Brad, Trevor, and an unnamed getaway driver, as well as their remote contact Lester — attempt to rob a security company. Things go south when Trevor murders a security guard and the crew is chased down by the police. Their getaway driver is killed, leaving the rest of the crew attempting to escape on foot. In the ensuing shootout, Trevor makes his escape, believing Michael to be dead. Michael had in fact made a deal with the FIB to turn over his crew in exchange for a fresh start in witness protection. The official story released to the press is that Brad is serving a life sentence in prison and that Michael was laid to rest.


Nine years later, Michael is currently in therapy. Under his new name of Michael De Santa, he and his wife have started a family. However, Michael is miserable with the day-to-day grind and occasionally misses the action of his old life, much to the great dismay of the corrupt FIB agent in charge of his protection, Dave Norton. 


Michael meets Franklin


Michael gets a taste of the criminal life again when his son's car is stolen by two gang bangers named Lamar and Franklin. These two are barely scraping by, making their living working for a shady car dealer named Simeon, who uses underhanded methods, including theft, to repossess cars from his clients. Unfortunately for Franklin and company, Michael was in the back seat of this car when they made off with it, and he's none too happy about the attempted theft.


Michael wrecks Simeon's business and threatens the man at gunpoint, but seemingly takes a shine to Franklin's fearless demeanor. Though Michael's outburst costs Franklin his job, the two hit it off, and Michael invites Franklin to come over to his place sometime for a drink and a chat. Franklin, meanwhile, is going stir crazy living with his overbearing aunt in a rundown old house. He also has to contend with Lamar's increasingly dangerous schemes, which almost always go poorly.


The start of a beautiful friendship


After surviving the fallout from a drug deal gone wrong, Franklin decides to take Michael up on his offer of friendship, hoping that it will lead to a better situation for himself. When Franklin comes to visit Michael, his immediate reaction is to think that Michael is just another bored rich weirdo. However, the two of them are thrust into their first real bit of action together when Michael gets a distressed call from his son Jimmy, who tried to sell Michael's boat behind his back before things went badly for him. Now a gang of thieves are speeding out of town with Michael's boat and kid in tow.


A high-speed chase ensues, during which Franklin shows his stuff by hopping from Michael's car onto the sailboat. Following this rescue, Jimmy appears to idolize Franklin, while Michael has decided that he will definitely let Franklin know any time he has work for him. With that, Jimmy is safe and a new partnership has been formed.


Madrazo and the first heist of GTA 5


Though his son is returned home safe and sound, Michael soon discovers that not everything is bright and sunny in the De Santa household. After catching his wife in bed with her tennis instructor, Michael goes on a rampage. Michael and Franklin chase the instructor to a house up in the Vinewood Hills and manage to completely destroy it by pulling the upper deck right off the building. 


Unfortunately, this house didn't belong to the tennis instructor, but rather the mistress of one Martin Madrazo, a powerful drug kingpin who puts a hit on the two of them. After Michael and Franklin dispatch his hitmen, Madrazo tells them that he expects them to pay for the damages if they want to keep their lives. Desperate to make this money quickly, Michael contacts his old friend Lester. In order to prove his sincerity to Lester, Michael helps his old pal carry out a mission to assassinate the CEO of social media platform Lifeinvader, after which Michael and his new crew pull off an elaborate jewelry heist. Madrazo is paid what he's owed and the heat is off of Michael and Franklin ... momentarily.


Trevor enters the story


The jewelry heist attracts the attention of Trevor, who is living out in the desert and almost immediately puts together that Michael is still alive. For the last several years, Trevor believes he has been writing letters to Brad in prison, not realizing that his correspondence has actually been with FIB agent Dave Norton, who writes back as Trevor's dead partner as a way to keep tabs on Trevor and maintain Michael's cover story.


Trevor has been making a living playing all of the various gangs in his area against one another, as well as facilitating all manner of illicit transactions, including the cooking and sale of crystal meth. After killing Johnny Klebitz, the head of a local motorcycle gang (and the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto 4: The Lost and the Damned), Trevor sets about wrecking his competition. He all but obliterates the rest of Klebitz's gang and takes on several members of the Chinese Wei Cheng Triad who are moving in on his territory. 


With all of that messy business out of the way, Trevor and his pal Wade head to Los Santos to find out exactly where Michael has been all this time.


An uncomfortable reunion


Trevor arrives at Michael's house during a dispute between Michael and his wife, who has discovered that he has returned to a life of crime. Neither of the De Santas are particularly excited to see Trevor, knowing that his presence only means they are in greater danger than ever. However, this uncomfortable reunion is cut short when Michael finds out that his daughter Tracey is about to humiliate herself on television by auditioning for the show Fame or Shame, which is hosted by degenerate radio and television personality Lazlow Jones.


The two men race to the television studio and halt the audition, leading to a chase where they beat and humiliate Jones. Michael and Trevor briefly reminisce about the old days and tentatively agree to stay in touch. Trevor and Wade forcibly move into an apartment belonging to Wade's cousin Floyd, and Trevor begins his plans to expand his business ventures to Los Santos. 


Working for the feds


The FIB is none too pleased with Michael's return to crime, even when he insists it was only to pay back Madrazo. As retaliation for putting him in a compromising position, Dave Norton tells Michael that he has to do a few under the table jobs for the FIB if he wants his secrets kept. After being knocked unconscious, Michael is sent on a job where he has to pose as a corpse and steal information on a suspected terrorist from the IAA, a rival intelligence organization. 


With this information in hand (and following the unfortunate deaths of several IAA agents), Michael and his crew manage to kidnap the suspected terrorist, a man named Ferdinand Kerimov. While Michael and Norton take care of another assassination, Trevor is charged by another corrupt FIB agent named Steve Haines with torturing Kerimov for information. Though the man is revealed to be innocent, Trevor is ordered to kill Kerimov. Instead, Trevor takes Kerimov to an airport and lets him go free. For the moment, the FIB has what they want and Michael's secrets are safe again.


Living the life


The criminal life seems to be working out for everyone involved. Michael's family has moved out, giving him a bit of peace and quiet. Franklin is able to move into a swanky new house in the hills after carrying out some assassination missions for Lester, finally getting out of his aunt's place.


Meanwhile, Trevor has used Floyd's connections as a longshoreman to scope out a shipment of materials belonging to Merryweather Security, a powerful and dangerous private military contractor. With help from Michael and Franklin, Trevor manages to steal this Merryweather shipment, but he's dismayed when Lester informs them that they must return it. It turns out that they've made away with a highly experimental superweapon, meaning that if they don't take it back, they'll have a target painted on all of them.


At first, Trevor refuses to return the device, but he agrees when Michael promises that there will be bigger and better jobs in the future. Still, this won't be the last time that the trio crosses paths with Merryweather.


Devin Weston enters GTA 5's picture


Following their theft of an armored car, the gang is put in touch with Devin Weston, a powerful billionaire who has at least a few members of the FIB on his payroll. It turns out that a few of the gang's heists have been set in motion to help further Weston's goals, so Weston helps to facilitate a large payout for Michael and his crew and offers them more jobs. Weston puts Michael in touch with his idol Solomon Richards, a Vinewood producer, in the hopes that the two will make a movie together and make Weston's investment in Richards' studio more profitable. Weston also tasks Franklin and Trevor with stealing multiple sports cars for his collection, a job that Franklin is all too familiar with.


Around this time, Michael and Trevor are contacted about working for Madrazo again, but things take a turn for the worse when Trevor sees how Madrazo treats his wife, Patricia. Trevor kidnaps Patricia and begins to develop feelings for her, and this new development sends Trevor and Michael into hiding from Madrazo. 


The train job


While hiding out from Madrazo, Trevor steals from Merryweather again, hijacking one of their cargo planes and officially making himself even more of a target. Trevor manages to bail out of the plane just as it is shot down over the water. 


Shortly thereafter, Trevor proposes a job straight out of a Wild West movie: he and Michael are going to rob a train. Naturally, the heist doesn't go completely smoothly, but they manage to get away from it with a briefcase containing an ancient artifact. Knowing that this is the kind of thing Madrazo collects, Michael suggests that they use it as a peace offering, along with returning Patricia to her husband. 


Though Trevor initially refuses, Michael talks him into doing it, yet again, with the promise of a bigger and better job ahead when they rob the Union Depository, a massive bank that appears to circulate money to the entire state. Trevor agrees and Patricia is returned home, though Trevor can't resist threatening Madrazo with violence if he ever mistreats her again. 


Trevor learns the truth


Michael settles back into his home in Los Santos, planning to return to his life of retirement. Trevor, meanwhile, loses his cool with Floyd and his girlfriend and kills them, necessitating a change of headquarters. After setting up shop in a local strip club called the Vanilla Unicorn, Trevor comes to learn some shocking news. 


After telling Michael of his new plan to break Brad out of prison, Michael finally lets its slip that Brad died all those years ago. In a rage, Trevor heads to where "Michael" was buried to find out the truth. Michael follows Trevor and finds him digging up Michael's fake grave, which is revealed to have Brad's body inside. The two of them pull their guns on one another, but are interrupted when the Triads arrive to have their revenge on Trevor. After a shootout, the Triads kidnap Michael, believing him to be Trevor's lover. 


While Michael is held captive, Trevor and Franklin carry out one final job for Devin Weston, who decides not to pay them what he promised. Following this betrayal, Franklin and Lester find where the Triads are hiding and Franklin rescues him, killing several of the gangsters in the process.


Best friends forever


Michael is given one final mission by Dave Norton, who tells him that if he breaks into the FIB headquarters and steals some files that will help cover up Steve Haines and Norton's recent shady dealings, then his record will be expunged and he will be a completely free man. While Michael plans this heist, he learns that Devin Weston has decided not to release the film that Michael and Solomon produced, preferring instead to collect the insurance payout from the "failed" production. In retaliation, Michael steals the film in a chase that results in the accidental death of Weston's lawyer. 


Michael and Franklin manage to pull off the raid on the FIB headquarters and Dave Norton agrees to hold up his end of the bargain. Unfortunately, Michael and Dave are then confronted by multiple groups out for revenge, including Merryweather, the IAA, and Steve Haines himself. Michael and his contacts manage to make it out of the ensuing firefight when Trevor arrives and helps them fight back. Though Trevor is still hurt by Michael's betrayal, the two come to a shaky truce and agree to go forward with the Union Depository heist together.


A star is born, a bunch of other guys are killed


Meanwhile, Franklin finds out that his friend Lamar has been kidnapped by a rival gang called the Ballas. With help from Michael and Trevor, Franklin rescues Lamar. When he gets home, however, Franklin is confronted by Dave Norton and Steve Haines, who tell him he needs to kill Trevor, who they believe has become a liability to them all.


With his passion project recovered and his relationship with his family on the mend, Michael decides to release the movie himself. At the premiere of the movie, Weston arrives and tells Michael that he has hired Merryweather mercenaries to kill his family. After Michael and his son fend off the attackers, Michael begins to plan his revenge on Weston.


First, however, the trio must pull off the Union Depository heist. Despite interference from Merryweather Security and the beleaguered Los Santos Police Department, the job is a success. Things take a dramatic return, however, when Franklin finds Devin Weston waiting for him at home. Weston tells Franklin that he must kill Michael, leaving Franklin with a choice: kill Michael, kill Trevor, or find another way.


Franklin is given the final choice in GTA 5's story


There are three different endings to Grand Theft Auto 5's story, depending on what Franklin decides. If Franklin chooses to kill Trevor, a chase ensues that ends with Trevor crashing his car into a gas tanker, which begins leaking fuel. Franklin fires his gun, igniting the fuel and burning Trevor alive. Michael tells Franklin that the two of them should part ways while he processes Trevor's death.


Should Franklin decide to follow Weston's orders and kill Michael, he will attempt to reach out to Trevor for help. However, Trevor will express a disinterest in meeting with Michael, still considering him a traitor for selling the gang out nine years ago. Franklin will then chase Michael from his house to a bridge, where Michael will fall to his death. Following this, Michael's family will express that they know Franklin was behind his death. Michael's widow will message Franklin to tell him to stay away from her family, while Jimmy will curse him out for his betrayal.


The GTA 5 story can have a happy ending, too


However, if Franklin decides not to turn on his pals, he will go to Lester for his help in finding another way to save them all. Together with Trevor and Michael, they concoct a plan to rid themselves of all of their enemies. Michael takes out the leader of the Ballas, Trevor kills Steve Haines, and Franklin blows up the head of the Triads.


Following these targets, Trevor fights his way through Merryweather's mercenaries one final time in order to kidnap the last man on their list: Devin Weston. The trio stuff Weston in the back of one of his prized sports car and shove it off a cliff, destroying the car and killing Weston. 


Their enemies dispatched and their records wiped clean by a grateful Dave Norton, the trio agree to lay low for a while and remain friends. In the world of Grand Theft Auto, this bloodbath is the closest thing to a happy ending as you're ever likely to find. 

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URGES YOU CAN'T RESIST SATISFYING IN GTA


BY NATHAN SIMMONS/OCT. 8, 2019 7:55 PM EDT

The Grand Theft Auto games are basically hedonistic playgrounds, which we mean as an absolute compliment. There's no end to the kind of bonkers fun that you can get from them, whether it's from carrying out missions or just fooling around with friends in Grand Theft Auto Online. 


Even with all of the carefully designed heists and purposeful gameplay mechanics of the GTA series, there are plenty of ways to make your own fun while you're roaming the streets and backroads of San Andreas. Besides, the idea of following the rules or doing things that make common sense seems to contradict the very point of this franchise. Over the years, players have found Easter eggs and bugs in the game that can be exploited for laughs, as well as fun little distractions that prove to be much more entertaining than they probably should be. Because of this, it can be hard to resist indulging in even the silliest things GTA has to offer. Let's take a look at some of those.


Blowing your cash on clothes


So you just purchased a giant mask for your character that looks like a googly-eyed strawberry. Pretty great, right? No, it serves no tactical purpose (in fact, it may even draw more enemy attention, now that you look like a deranged yogurt mascot), but that's not really the point. The point is that now you look hilarious. It's the same thing with that dope (and slightly phallic) glow in the dark shirt that you just bought. So what if you had to drop a few thousand in-game dollars on it? 


Yes, while your hard-earned (and likely stolen) money could be spent on more useful items, like new vehicles, weaponry, and ammo, it's hard not to resist plunking down your ill-begotten cash on these ridiculous outfits. Every time there are new items in the clothing stores, players around the globe tend to turn this game full of drug deals and shootouts into a fashion montage from a '90s romantic comedy. It's especially rewarding when you're online with your friends, where all of you can show off your new costumes and get into some brightly clad trouble together.


Playing GTA's arcade games


Look, we're all here because we love video games. That's why we're already on board for the shenanigans in Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar knows that, which is why they've included arcade cabinets in different installments of the series that can be played in-game. These include games like the Metal Slug/Contra parody Invade and Persuade 2 and Don't Cross the Line, which plays like neon-drenched version of Snake.


These games can be a fun little distraction (especially Invade and Persuade, which goes the extra mile of adding the Konami Code cheat to give players 99 free lives). Still, it's kind of hard not to think about the fact that you're literally playing less impressive games inside of the good game you're already playing. It'd be like if Batman dropped what he was doing in Arkham Knight so he could play a round of Whack-A-Mole at the Gotham City Fairgrounds. Still, the inclusion of these games is such a charming aspect of the GTA world that it feels like you almost have to play a round or two when you come across one.


Jumping out of/off of everything


Just as in real life, jumping out of an airplane or off of a skyscraper without a parachute isn't a great idea in Grand Theft Auto. However, the game's ragdoll physics in some of these situations make it so much more fun that it should be. With the press of a button, you can send your character careening through the sky or out of a moving vehicle, tumbling wildly. There's no reason to do it, other than it's terribly simple and always entertaining.


It's a spectacle that's pretty hard to pass up, which is why some players have taken to concocting increasingly ridiculous scenarios for this very purpose. Whether you're setting up a precarious stack of barrels to tackle off of a bridge or using the open doors on a car to take unsuspecting folks down with you, there is a lot of fun to be had with the very concept of gravity.


Picking fights with NPCs


Throwing down with NPCs is pretty much par for the course in Grand Theft Auto, no matter which installment you're playing. Sometimes you'll overhear someone being obnoxious or rude, and it just feels right to pop them one. This is especially true when you're Trevor Philips in Grand Theft Auto 5. While GTA 4's Niko Bellic almost seemed too well intentioned at times to randomly attack civilians, Trevor is a straight-up agent of chaos, and it doesn't seem at all out of character for him to put a stranger in line.


The only drawback to this kind of aggression is that it will likely nab you a Wanted Level. However, it's still worth it, especially if you just launch yourself right at the NPC who's grinding your gears. Not only does it look hilarious, but it definitely feels like something Trevor would do, just because he felt like it.


Wreaking havoc with GTA's big orange ball


If something can be broken in San Andreas, you can be sure that GTA players will figure it out and get to breaking. So when gamers discovered the giant orange ball on top of the juice stands in areas like the Vinewood Hills in GTA 5 and Online, you had better believe they immediately tried to work out how to cause the most chaos with it. 


The ball can be disconnected with C4 or a few well-placed knocks or bullets, after which some players prefer to just let it roll down the hill and into residential areas, trampling the populace like a scene right out of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Others like to try to load it in the backs of their trucks, taking it elsewhere to cause mischief and mayhem. There's really no wrong way to enjoy the giant orange ball, as long as you create as much trouble as possible. In other words, it's a microcosm of the whole game. It's there, so it must be messed with for hilarious results.


Drinking and smoking, just because


The characters in Grand Theft Auto are known for their many vices, many of which the game convinces its players to help carry out, so it's no surprise that the characters take to smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. GTA 5 courted a bit of controversy when it was revealed that characters could partake in smoking marijuana, but believe us, there are plenty of different substances to imbibe throughout the games. This is particularly true of GTA 5, which contains the infamous Macbeth shot, a drink that will make your character immediately pass out and wake up in compromising positions, like in the garbage or at the top of a billboard. Why would you want to drink something like that? Because you can. 


In fact, some fans are so enamored with the different effects of alcohol and drugs in GTA Online that they've taken to figuring out the exact math behind each drink and which ones get your character drunk (and the screen all distorted) the fastest. When you're in a club or headquarters and you see a minibar or a bong, it's kind of your duty as a GTA player to sample it and see what happens.

Hunting for GTA myths


There are quite a few myths in the Grand Theft Auto series. While some of them, like the rampaging wannabe Bigfoot in GTA 5 or the ghost cars of San Andreas, have basically been proven to be true, there are still many more that have not. However, many of these myths seem plausible enough that they warrant further investigation. 


That's why so many GTA players have taken to putting on their tin foil hats and spending years combing through every inch of the world map in search of its secrets. Grand Theft Auto 5, in particular, is full of dark hidden gems, like the alien trapped under the ice or the ghost of Jolene Cranley-Evans that stalks the peak of Mount Gordo. These things were only found because fans couldn't resist the siren call of wandering off the narrative path and into the unknown. Sure, you may not find anything, but the hunt is its own reward. 


Parking on GTA's train tracks


Again, this is one of those little diversions that is ultimately silly and pointless, but hard to resist when the opportunity arises. The idea isn't exactly to stop the train, but rather to see the fireworks that ensue when different vehicles and various hazards are in the path of an oncoming locomotive. 


Attempting to halt the trains has become something of a recurring challenge among the GTA community, with players using everything from vehicles to huge crowds of people to, um, a whole line of humpback whales (which surprisingly didn't work). Some players have even used environment mods to see if the trains can withstand the forces of nature, like a giant tsunami. 


The trains seem to be mostly impervious, but that hasn't stopped players from trying to find the correct immovable object to pit against this unstoppable force. Now that you've read this, just try to not want to park your Hydra jet on the next set of tracks you see in the game. 


Interfering with police chases


When you're playing GTA Online, and you see one of your buddies getting chased down by the police, of course it's your duty as a good teammate to help them escape by shooting out the tires on the police car. However, for some reason, it feels nearly as rewarding to do the same thing in single player mode. Even if it means jeopardizing a mission you're on, when you're out on the road and you see a fellow criminal being chased down by the Los Santos Police Department, you will likely feel the irresistible urge to help a brother out. 


The best part is that the game will occasionally reward you for getting involved, paying you in cash for rescuing the fleeing scofflaw. In stark contrast, the police might start chasing you down if you try to take out the criminal they're after. That's right, this is one of those moments when the game really backs up your more crooked instincts, so go right ahead and be bad. Outlaws have got to stick together, right?


Taking "unfortunate" selfies


Previous games in the GTA series showed our characters carrying mobile phones, but without much playable use. Even GTA 4's more functional phone only used the device's camera during missions, but it didn't save any of the pictures. GTA 5 changed all of that with the ability to save photos and the introduction of Snapmatic, the GTA universe's answer to Snapchat or Instagram. 


With Snapmatic, players could take in-game photos and upload them online. Naturally, much like the gamer who immediately decided to make Spider-Man take a selfie in front of Uncle Ben's grave, GTA gamers couldn't wait to start taking some wild photos of their gameplay. This is another one of those wonderful tools the game has given us that can be used for good or evil. Some folks have taken it upon themselves to line up gorgeous poses and shots of the scenery, while others have found the humor in the juxtaposition between a cheerful selfie and a fiery explosion in the background. The next time you see a group of NPCs slugging it out or a shark lying in the middle of the street, go ahead and take a picture. After all, it'll last longer.


Racing other players


Sure, there are actual street races already built into GTA, allowing players to challenge each other online or race against NPCs for a shot at glory and a nice payout. However, there's just something that feels good about peeling out in a drag race even when no cash is on the line. Unless the person you're racing is one of your friends, or you're planning to share a video of the race later, you're not really doing it for the bragging rights. No, it's like some primal part of your gamer brain takes over every now and then: it's go time.


So the next time someone pulls up next to you in their fancy sports car, don't feel alone if your first thought is, "I want them to know exactly how fast and reckless I can be." Just, uh, make sure that you're confining this behavior to the video game world, okay?


Having fun with GTA's gate launching glitch


Players have discovered a bizarre glitch in GTA 5 that turns ordinary automatic gates into catapults. By driving into a gate that is in the process of opening, it trips something in the game's physics engine that sends your car flying through the air like it's on its way to Oz. It seems to be a bit easier to pull off with a lowrider, but the results are always funny, no matter what vehicle you manage to launch.


This is another one of those weird little quirks of the game engine that doesn't really serve a purpose. It's clearly a bug, after all. However, once you discover how to do it, it's hard not to want to do it just for laughs every single time you see an automatic gate. There's something especially rewarding about the fact that there are so many of those gates in the fancier part of town. Launching your old beater car in the stratosphere, over the houses and lawns of the upper crust, just feels right. 


Robbing a store (with a ball)


When playing as Franklin and riding around with his dog Chop in GTA 5, your weapon wheel will include a tennis ball to play a game of fetch. However, it is possible to use this harmless ball for a more dastardly purpose. If you pull up to any convenience store and select the ball, the clerk inside will begin handing over their money and pleading for their life, reacting as though you've come in with a weapon. Even funnier, Franklin will also act as though he's holding a pistol, rather than a glorified chew toy, barking orders at the clerk and resulting in the most oddly upsetting robbery of all time. 


This is another one of those glitches that players have discovered in the game that is so bizarre, you just have to try it for yourself. There's something so oddly amusing about seeing multiple characters freaking out over an innocent pet's toy.


Cheating (in single player)


Look, we aren't saying that you should cheat in online play. That just ruins the fun for everyone else, not to mention it could earn you a swift ban from the game. However, cheat codes have been an integral part of enjoying the wonderful insanity that is Grand Theft Auto since the beginning. If you're in the mood to just mess around town, why not give yourself that extra edge? GTA is already about wacky wish fulfillment, so it really just adds to the fun if you can make your character invulnerable or grant them infinite ammo.


While you're at it, mod some stuff into your game! As long as you're not messing up the game for other players, it's hard to talk yourself out of making your game into the most over the top expression of your idea of fun. Luckily, there are plenty of options to do just that. Turn your character into Superman (complete with powers), Shaggy, or an invincible rampaging horse. Go big or go home. It may be silly, but it all boils down to the ultimate question that may just be the ethos of this entire franchise: why not?


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CREATIVE WAYS PEOPLE ARE CHEATING IN GTA 5


BY ROBERT SCARPINITO/APRIL 25, 2019 8:50 PM EDT/UPDATED: JAN. 26, 2021 4:57 PM EDT

Despite releasing more than half a decade ago, Rockstar's crime-based open-world game Grand Theft Auto 5 continues to thrive. In 2018, it ranked 11th on the list of best-selling games, according to The NPD Group. The engaging story told across three perspectives can keep you busy for dozens of hours, and the practically endless list of activities that await in the open world could easily bring your play time into the hundreds of hours. We're not even factoring in the enormous online component!


Since the year it released, players have been coming up with unique ways to break GTA 5, ways that Rockstar probably didn't intend. Like most other titles in the franchise, the game came with some typical cheat codes pre-baked into the game. These would only work in the single-player story mode, and they did basic things, like make you invincible or jump higher. But such paltry options didn't cut it for some hackers out there.


As of the time of writing, cheating and modding the story mode component of GTA 5 is fair game, but the online mode is a different story. Take Two, the game's publisher, tends to move swiftly, shutting down one hacker after another. Nonetheless, people are breaking this game in crazy, sometimes frightening ways. Join us as we recount some of the most creative ways people cheat in GTA 5.


Some walls are optional


Whether you've spent a couple minutes or a hundred hours with GTA 5, you probably take one thing for granted: walls. Oftentimes, these structures are the only thing that stand between you and a flurry of bullets. When you're under attack, you always look for the nearest one to hide behind because they're reliable and dependable. But what if we told you that some walls aren't so faithful?


You can easily walk right through some structures around Los Santos, clipping into spaces you probably shouldn't be in. The integrity of these areas can be described as shaky at best, and taking the wrong step can cause you to fall right through the map into oblivion. When you find your footing, though, you can exploit these interiors pretty easily. For one, they make the perfect hideout from cops or opposing players in a GTA Online server.


If you want to be diabolical, you can find certain walls that give you the advantage in a gunfight. Some of them have a weird concept of collision. From the inside, you'll be able to see the outside world. Furthermore, you can fire through the wall, turning the game into a shooting gallery. Meanwhile, your foes can't hit you back. It's unfair, but no one said you had to play fair in the world of GTA Online.


An unfair way to die


This hack may be one of the most heinous on this list. Imagine that you're playing around in single-player mode, minding your own business. You drive your car down the busy streets of Los Santos, weaving through traffic. Then all of a sudden, your car comes to a stop, and you haven't touched the brakes. Your character gets out of the car, then collapses. The harrowing word "WASTED" appears on the screen. What happened?


Well, believe it or not, someone playing GTA Online hacked into your single-player experience and killed you. It sounds baffling, but that's the truth of the matter. This can't happen anymore, so you don't need to worry about it. Back when it did happen though, it involved hackers taking control of Rockstar's own administrative tools.


Rockstar built these tools to manage their own livestreams or other events. Whenever they wanted someone kicked out of an online lobby, these tools could facilitate that, among other things. However, once hackers got ahold of it, things didn't look good. By using another mod to find other players' Social Club ID numbers, they could point the business end of the tool at anyone, as long as they were logged into Rockstar's Social Club. This meant that even if you were playing the story mode, these hackers could kill your character just because you were logged in.


How to freeze your money


In GTA Online, lots of people constantly look for ways to have more money. Forums are rife with all sorts of strategies to make and save lots of cash, which makes sense, considering it's one of the most important resources in the game. Well, some players found a way to freeze their in-game bank account, letting them purchase whatever they want without losing any money.


This exploit can only be done on the PlayStation 4 version, and it requires you to share your PSN login credentials with a friend. So be sure that whoever you do this exploit with is someone you can trust. Essentially, this exploit tricks the servers of GTA Online. Your friend will log in first, depositing however much money they want into your account. Then they'll save, return to story mode, and then get ready to start a closed, friends-only online session.


Before starting it, you'll log in through your PS4, regaining control of your account. Buy whatever you want, then save and go to story mode. Your friend then picks up where they left off, starting that closed session. They'll still register having all of your money from before you bought anything. We'd recommend reading the thread linked above to get the precise directions so you don't miss anything.

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Wannabe Rockstars


For players on the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, some hackers pulled a huge hoax across many servers. At various times, a message would appear above players' minimaps. That's usually the place for official messages directly from Rockstar, so this isn't anything surprising. However, the messages themselves said something peculiar, alleging that Grand Theft Auto 6 was on the horizon.


Some would read, "Pre order GTA 6 now!" or "GTA V: Coming Soon." These messages eerily looked official, but people quickly caught onto the prank. Others weren't so lucky, and those who fell for the con got excited. The hoax reached a critical point, which led to Rockstar tweeting out an official statement: "This is a hoax made with the use of mods, and not an official message or statement from Rockstar Games." It just goes to show, people are chomping at the bit for more GTA action.


Kick the competition to the curb


Of the many ways to make money in GTA Online, racing feels like one of the less criminal ones. Sure, street racing is illegal, but at least you won't have blood on your hands, hopefully. Winning requires a perfect mixture of your honed skills and top-of-the-line car modifications. A little bit of luck can't hurt, either. However, there's another technique worth learning if you want to be the first one at the finish line.


If the track has a curb along the side of it, try continuously driving on and off it, weaving back and forth. For some reason or another, this manipulates the physics of the game, increasing your car's top speed. This technique is known as "curb boosting" and "kerb boosting," and it's even more effective on PC, where you can get higher framerates.


No one knows exactly how it works. Some believe that the constant change in elevation lets the tires spin faster. Alternatively, others believe the bouncing messes with the car's suspension. Nonetheless, it's a popular technique that results in higher speeds. Some players find this technique bothersome, and they often ask Rockstar to patch it out of the game. On the other hand, some players see it as another tool to be used to claim victory. How you use it is up to you.


Insurance fraud is a serious crime


People who frequent GTA Online have likely either encountered hackers or know someone who has. Hackers tend to find ways to steal other players' money, but this next method sounds as sleazy as it is creative. Through a mod menu, these cheaters manipulated the server to steal money from other players.


In essence, the hacker would trigger an explosion that destroys their own car. However, that explosion would be attributed to another player on the server. Said player then gets charged an insurance fine because they are "responsible" for "destroying" another player's car. Thus, that money goes directly to the hacker's pocket. Furthermore, that unfairly blamed player gets "bad sport" points, increasing their chances of getting into worse servers with even more hackers.


To put it simply, hackers could both steal your money and ruin your account's reputation at the same time. Even worse, you couldn't do much to fight against this. Once the hacker presses the button, none of your actions can change anything. Luckily, this hack was swiftly patched by Rockstar, so you won't have to worry about it now.


Grand Theft Auto: Rapture City Stories


Los Santos is a city that keeps giving. Something new waits around every corner, and so many hidden secrets lay scattered around the city, waiting to be found. Although, after so many hours of driving and walking those familiar streets, the city and its grand outskirts can lose their luster. Why not take a look at the sprawling urban center through a different perspective?


Thanks to the modding community, you can change the landscape of Los Santos to keep things interesting. A modder named Bushigan submerged the city deep into the sea thanks to their Tsunami mod. Playing with this mod makes the game seem like a forgotten BioShock spinoff. Instead of cruising through the streets of the city, you can swim between the tall skyscrapers, giving the game a new vibe. It's worth noting that this mod only works in the single-player story mode and can't be done online. So save it for a play session when you just want to have some fun on your own.


Cars on parade


By the time you've put in a couple dozen hours into the story, your three protagonists will carry an inconceivable number of weapons. With the tap of a few buttons, you can switch from a knife to a shotgun to a minigun. No matter where you went or who you fought, GTA V gave you enough toys to plow through any encounter in various ways. But if, for whatever reason, you felt like your guns needed to pack some more horsepower, there's a mod to fulfill your desires.


Called the Vehicle Cannon mod, this script changes all of your weapons. Instead of shooting bullets, they'll launch a ruthless parade of cars. Everything from motorbikes to industrial vehicles can come out of your weapon. All of a sudden, the stun gun doesn't seem so awful. The cars are all launched at a velocity so fast that they'll likely explode when they hit the environment. This mod gives the concept of "road rage" a whole new meaning, so naturally you can only use it in the story mode.


It's the end of the world


When it comes to roaming the open world of GTA 5, you'll always find one antagonizing force at every moment: the police. In a game all about committing crime, it only makes sense that the fuzz would be a major enemy. Anyone who's played a GTA game has probably challenged themselves by seeing how long they could survive at higher wanted levels, either out of boredom or to prove themselves. But there are other, more creative ways to challenge yourself in the single-player mode, thanks to mods.


A modder who goes by the handle onsby uploaded a script called Angry Planes. When it's activated, you'll notice far more planes in the sky than usual. If you don't see them, the planes will blatantly make their presence known. These aircraft are out to kill you. The ones with guns or missiles will rain fire down upon you. The ones that don't have weapons will try to crash into you. When the police aren't enough of a challenge for you, flip on this mod and see what happens. If you were looking for a way to kickstart the apocalypse in Los Santos, Angry Planes would be a good place to start.


Los Santos, the other Windy City


To the northeast of Los Santos lies a large wind farm. You'll find wind turbines across these rolling hills, all of them turning and producing green energy. Fortunately, all the moving parts are suspended way up in the air, so you don't need to worry about them unless you're flying an aircraft. For your average ground-dwelling citizen, those lumbering turbines pose no threat, obviously.


"But what if they did?" asked a diabolical GTA 5 modder. Thus, some hackers got to work, putting spinning turbines in more innocuous places. It all started with some custom-built race tracks, which made the turbines mere obstacles to avoid, reminiscent of a putt-putt golf course. They would get in the way of your races, but not to the point where reaching the finish line was impossible. If only it had stopped there.


The hackers' work kept escalating, to the point where turbines could be placed practically anywhere on the map, even in online servers. They would block entrances to vital buildings, such as garages or hideouts. Some even built a machine of nightmares by attaching some turbines to a moving train. These once proud symbols of renewable energy now stand for inconvenience, fear, and possible death, all thanks to the work of some GTA 5 hackers.


Grand Theft Auto 5 is super hot


Rockstar has developed some of the more impressive AAA titles in the past few console generations. Games like GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 go for a sense of realism and depth beyond other major releases. However, that doesn't mean indie games don't deserve their chance in the spotlight. Every year, innovative hits come from the indie scene, such as Superhot, the first-person shooter where time moves only when you move.


Luckily, with the help of a few mods, you can have the best of both worlds. The Superhot mod implements the same time-bending mechanic into Rockstar's open-world game. When you active the mod, the world comes to a complete standstill. When you start moving, whether it's a slow walk or a full sprint, the rest of the world starts moving, too. Even pulling the trigger on your gun moves time forward.


The mechanic completely changes the way you could play through the game's story, and you could feasibly use it until you reach the end. Suddenly, Michael, Franklin, and Trevor aren't just run-of-the-mill criminals: they're superpowered gunslingers. It provides a new way to spice up the gameplay without drastically altering the environment with tsunamis or raining aircraft.


The ultimate troll(s)


Now this creative hack makes for a great story. This baffling tale (and that's putting it mildly) was documented by Nick Breckon of Idle Thumbs. In a GTA Online server, all sorts of weird events started happening to him. He'd die seemingly out of nowhere, and sometimes the death was accompanied by an explosion. When he respawned, he'd occasionally have every gun in his inventory with maximum ammo. Other respawns took away his entire inventory, leaving only his fists.


As he played, he found bags of money would start spawning around him, as if they came from nowhere. But he very quickly found the source of all these weird events: a hacker. This hacker made himself obvious by spawning a copy of Nick's character onto Nick's back. This green-haired doppelganger would ride piggyback, and nothing Nick did would get him off. Furthermore, the hacker started spawning more green-haired clones of Nick, all of whom were hostile.


Any time Nick tried fighting back, he would end up dead, often at the mysterious hands of the hacker. There was no escape, either. Jets of steam would come from the ground, knocking his character down. This let the hacker do as he pleased, completely trolling Nick. These unexplainable events make for a great story, but they probably would ruin any chance of the victim having fun with GTA Online that day.


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GAMES THAT TRIED TO RIP OFF GTA AND FAILED


BY CHRISTOPHER GATES/APRIL 19, 2019 5:40 PM EDT

Never mind video games: Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest and most profitable properties in any type of media, and where you find a big success, you'll also find a number of copycats. You've seen these games before: open-world games set in urban environments with seedy criminal underbellies, with a mix of arcade-style driving, various forms of gunplay, and the freedom to explore and cause mischief as you see fit.


It's a winning formula, and Rockstar has had it nailed down since the very beginning. The imitators? Not so much. These games tried to capitalize on Grand Theft Auto's success by shamelessly ripping off the stuff that makes it so compelling, only to stumble well before the finishing line. Given the money at stake, you can't blame these developers for trying. Making games, especially ones as dense and complex as Grand Theft Auto, is hard. Rockstar only makes it look easy.


Ride to Hell should follow its own advice


Ride to Hell: Retribution isn't an open-world criminal simulator. It was supposed to be. When Deep Silver announced the game in 2008, Ride to Hell was a Grand Theft Auto-like trip through the 1960s' seedy underbelly. As a member of a Hells Angels-esque motorcycle gang, you'd cruise across the American West on your bike, snapping Polaroids, doing drugs, and slowly rising through the gang's ranks until you're the top dog.


Five years later, Ride to Hell: Retribution arrived, and it was not that. At all. EGM surmises that, at some point during production, Deep Silver and developer Eutechnyx realized that their ambitious were too big, and decided to take everything that they'd built and reconfigure it into something else. Unfortunately, that something ended up being one of the very worst video games ever made. Ride to Hell isn't just glitchy: it barely works at all, and on the rare occasions when it does, it's simply not fun.


Objective markers don't always lead to objectives. On-screen text is riddled with typos. Vehicles randomly explode. Every time that you complete a quest given by a woman, which is most of them, she rewards you with sex — but the characters never take off their clothes, making Ride to Hell both incredibly sexist and unintentionally hilarious. It's not even so bad it's good. It's just bad. If you're really curious, watch a few YouTube videos and move on with your life. We've already given Ride to Hell more attention than it deserves.


APB is some grade-A BS


Grand Theft Auto Online more or less prints money, so there's clearly a market for GTA-style gameplay in a multiplayer setting. There's just not much of a market for APB. On paper, APB: All Points Bulletin sounds fine. Players roam around the fictional metropolis of San Paro, either as a member of the Enforcers (the cops) or the Criminals, and face off in missions, earning money that can be spent on new weapons or cosmetic options. APB has a strong Grand Theft Auto link behind the scenes, too: it was directed by David Jones, who created Grand Theft Auto, and was billed as the culmination of everything that Jones had been working on.


So far, so good. But then APB came out, and the reviews weren't kind. Critics complained that the game felt unfinished, that the core shooting and driving systems felt sloppy and repetitive, and that San Paro's streets all looked the same. Just a couple of months after APB launched, developer Realtime Worlds went out of business, taking APB's online servers with it. Eventually, Korean games company K2 Network bought the rights to APB and relaunched it as a free-to-play title, but players soon complained that it was more pay-to-win.


Remarkably, APB: Reloaded is still around, although it's full of cheaters, toxic community members, and dated gameplay. Even its most dedicated players call it "garbage." In 2018, APB was sold to publisher Little Orbit, so improvements could be on their way. Given APB's history, however, we're not getting our hopes up.


The True Crime is that we had to play this game


True Crime: Streets of LA hasn't aged well, but when it came out in 2003, it was seen as the first open-world game to give Grand Theft Auto a real challenge. See, True Crime wasn't a straight-up GTA clone. Instead of playing as a bad guy, True Crime cast you as a cop. It had a branching storyline that changed when you succeeded or failed at a mission, making it feel like your actions mattered. Instead of a fake city, True Crime took place in a one-to-one recreation of Los Angeles, and brought along Hollywood stars like Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, Michelle Rodriquez, and Michael Madsen with it.


That was enough to earn True Crime a sequel, and that's when the trouble started. True Crime: New York City didn't bring any new ideas to the table, and it didn't implement the old ones particularly well, either. By 2005, True Crime's basic good cop/bad cop morality system felt dated, and the city lacked New York's grimy charm. The game wasn't finished, either. Reviewers complained that the game felt rushed and that its numerous glitches made it borderline unplayable.


That killed the True Crime franchise for good. True Crime: New York City only moved about 72,000 copies, less than a third of what True Crime: Streets of LA sold in its first two weeks on the market, and plans for any sequels were scuttled. Activision briefly tried to revive the brand in 2009 but ended up selling True Crime: Hong Kong to Square Enix, which released it as Sleeping Dogs with not a mention of True Crime to be found.


The Godfather 2 is one offer that you absolutely should refuse


Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (and the Mario Puzo novel that it was based on) laid the foundation for every organized crime yarn that followed, including Grand Theft Auto, so it's not too surprising that someone turned it into a video game. What is surprising is that Electronic Arts managed to land a number of the film's original actors to reprise their roles, including James Caan, Robert Duvall, Abe Vigoda, and Marlon freakin' Brando in his last-ever acting performance (although Brando's lines were ultimately unusable, thanks to the oxygen tank the ailing actor was forced to use).


The Godfather: The Game wasn't a bad little GTA-like, either, even if it didn't really capture the tone of its source material or bring any new ideas to the table. The same can't be said about its sequel, however. While The Godfather: Part II is one of the rare film sequels that's even better than the first one, lightning didn't strike twice. It commits the biggest crime an open-world game can: it's boring. The Godfather 2's glitch-ridden environments all look the same, and its missions get repetitive fast.


Critics reacted accordingly, as did customers, who picked up less than a quarter-million copies. That's not much for a name as big as The Godfather, and EA sent its plans for more sequels to sleep with the fishes. Given that the next film in the queue was the notoriously awful The Godfather: Part III, that's probably a blessing.


Driver 3 will drive you mad


Amazingly, the worst thing about Driver 3 isn't its promotional title, Driv3r. It's how the game fundamentally misunderstands what makes Driver special. The first two Driver games take place in open worlds, but they aren't really GTA-likes (in fact, the original Driver debuted in 1999, a full two years before Grand Theft Auto 3 took the series into 3D). They're racing games with a narrow focus. Driver and Driver 2 feel like high-speed car chases straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster. They're fast, chaotic, and fun.


By contrast, Driver 3 tries to move the franchise into full-on Grand Theft Auto territory by making you get out of the car and fight, and that's where things fall apart (Driver 2 has some on-foot sequences, but they're not combat-based). The controls suck. The camera sucks. Shootouts rely on trial-and-error, not real skill, and the on-foot enemies are as dumb as rocks. When you're behind the wheel, Driver 3 works. When you do anything else, it's a nightmare.


If people want to play Grand Theft Auto, they'll play Grand Theft Auto. If they pick up a Driver game, they want to play Driver. Ubisoft ultimately got the series back on track with Driver: San Francisco, which returned players to their rightful place behind the dashboard, but after Driv3r it looked like the franchise was in real trouble. It's a miracle that it ever recovered.


They couldn't even get the initials right in Gangsta Auto Thief


Say you want to play some Grand Theft Auto on the go, so you head over to the iOS App Store to see what's available. You find Grand Theft Auto 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars all ready and available to download, but you've played those many times before. You're looking for something new.


And then you see it. Sure, there's something about Gangsta Auto Thief that seems a little fishy — for one, that's abbreviated GAT, not GTA — but the key art sure looks like what you'd find on a Grand Theft Auto game, and the description, which promises "Explosions. Tanks. Helicopters. Undercover Police. And a whole lot of mayhem," sounds about right, even if it's grammatically dubious.


Don't be fooled. Gangsta Auto Thief (full title: Gangsta Auto Thief: Reckless Gang.sta City Hustle, because one "gangsta" clearly wasn't enough) isn't a Grand Theft Auto game. It's not an open-world crime game at all. It's a crappy driving game that's built exclusively to bilk money from suckers by ripping off Rockstar's signature aesthetic. You're not a sucker, are you? Yeah, we didn't think so.


The Crime Life is not the good life


There's good, there's bad, and then there's Crime Life: Gang Wars, a game that would be offensive if it wasn't so darn derivative. Not that there aren't a few interesting ideas here. While Grand Theft Auto heroes tend to function as lone wolves, Crime Life is all about gang warfare, with numerous combatants entering the fray. In terms of combat, Crime Life shies away from firearms (although you'll find a few here and there) in favor of melee combat that resembles old-school arcade beat 'em ups.


Unfortunately, there are a few problems. For one, the actual fighting is clunky and hard to control, and all of the characters are so generic that it's easy to forget which gangster you're controlling. For another, the game wants to invoke Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' general vibe so badly that it practically hurts. Your gang is called the Outlawz. Supporting characters have names like Koruptt and Smally Biggs (get it?). Your character lives in a neighborhood that's literally called the Hood.


It's just trying so, so hard, and none of it works. Critics praised Crime Life's soundtrack, which features music from Eminem's D12, but didn't find much else to recommend. In other words, you can find the best parts of Crime Life on Spotify. No need to play the game itself.


Total Overdose or totally forgotten?


Sometimes, a game doesn't have to be bad to fail. Sometimes, a perfectly fine title comes and goes without making much of an impact — or much money. For example, raise your hand if you remember Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico. Anyone? Yeah, that's what we thought.


With a 71 Metacritic score, Total Overdose won't be turning any heads, but reviews — the ones that you can still find online — indicate that it's quite serviceable, if not particularly noteworthy. IGN compares Total Overdose's gunplay to Max Payne's (quite a compliment), praises Total Overdose's puzzle-like collectibles, and liked it's Robert Rodriguez-inspired aesthetic. GameSpy says that the game doesn't feel like it's finished, but allows that "even the most jaded hack can admit that some of this game is incredibly entertaining." What parts of the game are entertaining exactly? It's hard to say. GameSpy's review won't load after the first page.


In fact, it's remarkably hard to find any information about Total Overdose online, which probably says everything that you need to know about its lasting legacy. One thing that we do know: Total Overdose never got a sequel because Eidos, the first game's publisher, refused to fund it. That doesn't speak well of Total Overdose's financial performance, and that's too bad. By all accounts, the game was fine. The problem is that nobody played it.


Let's play Grab That Auto? Eh, let's not.


YouTuber Jerma985 deserves your thanks. He plays the App Store's crappy Grand Theft Auto knock-offs so that you don't have to. See, mobile marketplaces are crammed absolutely full of low-budget GTA clones, none of which seem to work quite right.


Many of them have close, but not quite right names like Grab That Auto 5 ("Please accidentally download me," Jerma quips). Many of the games struggle to display anything that's more than 20 feet in front of the player, and we'll never know if the games' combat is any good. The camera systems make any kind of gunplay impossible.


Jerma has trouble figuring out what the point of most of these games are — many of them don't have explicit goals — although making Jerma howl with laughter seems to be one of the games' main side effects. Grab That Auto 5 and its ilk may not be much fun to play, but they're clearly fun to watch: as of this writing, Jerma's sarcastic (yet oddly affectionate) playthrough has over 4.5 million views on YouTube.


Gangs of London royally disappoints


Grand Theft Auto went to London twice. In 1999, Rockstar games released Grand Theft Auto: London 1969, an expansion pack for the very first Grand Theft Auto game, and then followed that up later that year with London 1961, an expansion pack for the first expansion pack. Ever since then, fans have argued that London — or, as Rockstar tends to do, a fictional location based on London — should be the setting for the next Grand Theft Auto.


But, you might be thinking, why bother? There's already a GTA-like out there set on the other side of the pond. It's called, appropriately enough, Gangs of London, and it came out on the PSP in 2006. If you look at what the game offers, it seems like a reasonable substitute. Gangs of London follows in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' footsteps with gang-based warfare, a handful of minigames and side activities, and a bunch of different types of missions.


But, as in so many of these games, the enemy AI isn't very good, and the missions get repetitive fast. Worst of all, though, Gangs of London doesn't do anything special with its setting. Gangs of London's take on The Big Smoke is just another generic city in a genre full of them. For years, fans of open-world crime games have been wishing for a title that takes full advantage of London's seedy charms. As of this writing, they still are.


Spider-Man 3 swings and misses


It's not just crime games that rip off Grand Theft Auto. Superhero games do it, too. Like GTA and its imitators, most superhero adventures take place in densely packed urban environments. As in GTA, getting from place to place can be a big part of the game, too, whether you're traveling in a Batmobile, in an Arc Reactor-powered suit, or via flight or other superpowers. And, of course, there's still a big criminal element. It's just that superheroes try to stop illegal activity instead of engaging in it.


When the GTA and comic book mash-up comes together, as it did in Batman: Arkham City, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, and Marvel's Spider-Man, it's a blast. When it doesn't, as in the PS2, the PSP, and (most notably) the Wii editions of Spider-Man 3, it's a disaster. Flicking the Wii remotes to turn them into makeshift web-shooters is a good idea, and when it works, it's marvelous.


Unfortunately, it rarely does. The camera makes getting around Spider-Man 3's drab take on New York City — a location we've seen so many times before, and done so much better — more difficult than it should be, and all of the other motion controls make superheroing a chore. Throw in cutscenes that look like they've been filmed with knock-off action figures and the way that the webslinging, while cool, wreaks havoc on your wrists after an extended session, and you end up with one Spidey-simulator that needs a little more time in the lab.


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WHAT DIEHARD FANS DON'T EVEN KNOW ABOUT GTA


BY DALEY WILHELM/MARCH 13, 2019 6:10 PM EDT

The world of Grand Theft Auto was crafted with chaos in mind: carjacking, shootouts with police, heists and crime sprees usually committed with unlikely vehicles and with even less likely outcomes. But hey, GTA5 allows players to get creative, and we're all about creativity, even if it means picking up tanks with helicopters for the sake of indomitable aerial mayhem.


Los Santos is a big city, rivaling the real world maps of San Francisco and Manhattan. This unprecedented size allowed for developers to hide some secrets for players to seek out or simply stumble upon. We're not talking about the aliens or cannibal cults hiding in the hills, either. We're going even deeper, because despite GTA5 getting on in age, the title has many a mystery to offer even now. When it comes to GTA, players are always in for surprise. The unexpected is around every corner, because the people at Rockstar are just as, if not more, creative than the game's players. They're the real diehard GTA fans, if the effort to put these tiny details into the map is anything to go by.


In the GTA universe, Jack wrote Red Dead


Rockstar is responsible for not one, but two massive hit game franchises that are practically unrivaled: Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. It's only right that there are some areas wherein the two crossover. Both involve a lot of crime and questionable morals. And both have a character with a penchant for writing by the name of J. Marston.


The last we saw of John Marston's son, Jack Marston, was him avenging his father Inigo Montoya-style in a dueling match that seemed to put him on the same outlaw path as his father. Jack may have escaped a lawless life after all, if we are to believe that he was the writer of Red Dead, a little blue book sitting on the shelf of Franklin's Vinewood Hills house in GTA5.


Jack had wanted to be a writer, obsessed with stories of the Old West since childhood. Maybe after avenging his father's death, he wrote the story of the tragedy that had plagued the Marston family. Jack realizing his dream of becoming a writer and putting his family's violent past behind him is probably as close to a happy ending players will ever get out of a Red Dead game. In this case, GTA5 gave it to us.


Player-spawned urban legends: The Goatman and The Paleto Triangle


Grand Theft Auto 5 is so vast and popular that folklore has become a natural part of the game. There are, of course, legends that were purposefully built into the game by Rockstar, like the ghost of Mount Gordo. Other legends have been spread by players who notice something odd: a bug here, a glitch there, and maybe an imagined shadow or two. These encounters have spread to the point of being an unofficial part of the GTA5 universe.


One such myth that cannot be confirmed, but is nevertheless championed by ardent believers, is the tale of the Goatman. There are plenty of tall tales of goatmen, spectral monsters that are part man, part goat, in IRL legends. The Goatman in GTA5 allegedly haunts a trestle bridge at Cape Catfish. There's nothing in code or word from Rockstar to confirm this, but there are postings and even videos that claim that the Goatman isn't a hoax: he's real. Real scary.


Elsewhere, in Paleto Bay to be precise, is an alleged bug that players have likened to the mythic Bermuda Triangle. They claim that at a certain point in the bay, players are suddenly transported back to shore sans vehicle, and ghostly yachts ride unmanned through the waves. The Paleto Triangle became so prolific that Rockstar acknowledged this "rare issue" and said they were working on a fix. That was in 2017 and to this day, some players still post about the myth of the Paleto Triangle.


hushsmush.com


Grand Theft Auto 5 is such an incredibly layered game that devs even thought to add its very own social media networks. Players might be familiar with the not-so-subtly named Facebook knock-off Lifeinvader, wherein you can stalk your friends. Or strangers. Or a Mark Zuckerberg stand-in that Michael kills in the aptly named mission "Friend Request."


Another site for the more ... amorous users, hushsmush.com, is a "discrete and secure online community of extramarital daters, single girls looking for a sugar daddy, and depraved nymphos." This site, right down to the "one click to two time" tagline, is a tongue-in-cheek version of the extramarital dating site Ashley Madison. While Ashley Madison apparently tries to play down the fact that they encourage adultery, Hush Smush embraces it: "We don't wreck marriages, we save them. So do it for the kids ..."


Michael de Santa and his wife Amanda have a strained relationship, to say the least. In the game, they both have affairs. Amanda and her tennis coach are caught in bed together, but her cheating apparently goes farther than that encounter. "Foxymama21" on Hush Smush loves yoga, sitting by the pool all day, and ignoring her husband. An unused profile picture proves that Amanda is "Foxymama21" apparently buying into the Hush Smush philosophy, "Hush Smush is cheaper than divorce and safer than a prostitute."


Thelma & Louise forever looped


If there was ever a cinematic tale that belonged in the GTA universe, it's the story of Thelma & Louise. The 1991 movie follows friends Thelma and Louise on their road trip gone wrong: together they murder a man, rob a convenience store, lock a police officer in his own cruiser's trunk, and blow up a truck all while cruising in style. Unfortunately for them, their story ends boldly, but badly. The authorities catch up with them as they attempt to escape into Mexico. Cornered, they find themselves at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Rather than face life in prison, they kiss and floor it, rocketing into oblivion.


Grand Theft Auto 5 has an easter egg honoring these accidental outlaws. The iconic final scene of the film is immortalized between the hours of 7 and 8 p.m. in the Chiliad Mountain State Wilderness. Near Ranton Canyon, there's some kind of commotion going on. Getting closer, players will see a standoff on top of the mountain. Police cars surround a Tornado, in which two women and a couple guitars sit. Once the officers start to approach, the women make a dire decision: the driver hits the accelerator and flies off the precipice. The only way players can witness this tableau is via helicopter, so there's little they can do to change the fate of these tragic heroines.


Los Santos is no country for old men


Haven't seen Thelma & Louise? No problem. There are plenty of movie references tucked in the corners of the GTA5 map. Even if you're unfamiliar with the films that they allude to, they fit right in with the crime and chaos of Los Santos. Players may have encountered a random event that recreates the opening scene from the bloody 2007 crime thriller No Country for Old Men and not even realized that it was based on a movie.


The scene in question is a drug deal gone wrong. Very wrong. In the center of a gathering of pickup trucks lay several bodies, the results of an apparent shootout. In the film, there was but one survivor clinging to life. In GTA5 there are a few for the player to track down and finish off. The last man standing will have a briefcase stuffed with $25,000. While less than the $2 million found in the movie, this ill-gotten gain is nevertheless worth it if you can escape the convoy of trucks that will pursue you afterwards. Fortunately, you just have to take down two trucks rather than deal with the creepy hitman Anton Chigurh.


Rich man Hugh Hefner's Richman Mansion


In case you haven't caught on, Los Santos is the GTA equivalent of Los Angeles. Vinewood is the center of the movie making biz rather than Hollywood, and the Los Santos Riots near the end of the game bear a striking resemblance to the 1992 LA riots. Another nod to Los Santos' Californian inspiration is the inclusion of the aptly named Richman Mansion.


On the lawn of Richman Mansion, players might encounter topless bikini models, parties, and all kinds of debauchery. This is because Richman Mansion is a spin of Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion. The mansion in Richman, near the golf course, takes architectural inspiration from both the Beverly Hills Greystone Mansion and Hefner's expensive Holmby Hills home. At night, the exterior is sometimes lit with pink and blue lights, drawing the Hollywood elite and illicit like moths to a flame. In case players didn't realize the connection to the magazine tycoon, some of the skimpily clad ladies will mention "Hef" to fellow party goers.


Players are free to roam the mansion's grounds and check out the backyard. The pool there features a cave built from rocks that resemble the infamous Playboy Mansion grotto, where all kinds of ... activities take place.


The Lost hatch


GTA gives players the chance to drive all kinds of vehicles that they have no expertise (or business) piloting: jets, helicopters, tanks, and even submarines. Los Santos is a coastal city with just as much illicit adventure to be had in the water as on the streets. Who knew stealing yachts could be just as fun as stealing cars?


There are several ways to get your hands on a minisub, not all of them legal. If you do, you might want to check out one of Los Santos' most mysterious of secret locations: the Hatch. The Hatch can be found just off the coast, deep underwater. In fact, getting too close will crush players, sub and all, under the immense pressure of the water. The circular door on the ocean floor looks remarkably similar to the equally mysterious hatch from the hit TV show Lost. In Lost, the Hatch hid an underground structure. In GTA5? Who knows. Maybe Roman Bellic.


Players that hover nearby have discovered a tap-tap-tapping sound emanating from within. At first, the sound seemed random, but clever players later discovered there was a pattern in Morse code. The deciphered message is the annoyingly familiar "Hey, you never call, how'd you fancy going bowling?"


Grand Theft Auto 4's Roman Bellic, who always called his cousin to beg for a night of bowling at the most inopportune times, is apparently in the Hatch.


The Blacklight Collector's Map


The Collector's Edition of GTA5 comes with some pretty sweet swag. Along with some choice in-game gear, the Collector's Edition includes a Los Santos snapback, a security deposit bag, a keychain, and a blueprint map of Los Santos. This map belongs to Trevor Phillips Enterprises, apparently the best in the business when it comes to weaponry, narcotics, intimidation, and casual wear.


The map features some scrawled notes from Trevor alongside some ... questionable stains. A cryptic message on the back leads players to a remote dock, where a minisub is stored. From there players can gather offshore nuclear waste barrels for a considerable amount of cash. And this isn't the only lucrative secret that the map contains. Holding the map under a blacklight will reveal more of Trevor's messy hand. All over the map, he has scribbled in symbols that represent the locations of cash, safe houses, random events, items, and spaceship parts. Helpfully, Trevor has also highlighted the locations of robbable stores, military planes, and attack copters.


These hints might be worth more than the other bonus content in the Collector's Edition. All they have to do is have a blacklight handy.


Everyone has a different sleep schedule


The unlikely friends that serve as the protagonists of GTA5 are very different people with different problems that are usually solved through some good old-fashioned theft and violence. This they have that in common, anyway. Each individual character's storylines intersect as they fight against both the law and the lawless. And this struggle takes its toll on each character differently. Maybe that's why everyone has different sleep schedules.


Players have discovered that Michael sleeps the least at just six hours. Maybe the short sleep is because of his depression. Or his failing marriage. Or the sins of his past haunting him in the wee hours. Franklin by comparison sleeps a more healthful eight hours every night. And then we have Trevor. Trevor has always been the wild card of the trio so it really comes as no surprise that when Trevor sleeps, he's down for the count. In the game, when playing as Trevor, going to sleep will make a whopping twelve hours pass. Maybe this catatonic state is due to the crystal meth.


The Los Santos sea monster


It's nice to spend a day at the beach in Los Santos, as long as there are no maniacs driving cars at 120 miles per hour on the sand. The sunset on the water is gorgeous — but don't let this idyllic scene fool you. Beneath the waves, there be monsters.


Mostly, that means sharks. The sharks in the waters of Los Santos are particularly bloodthirsty, it seems, and will attack unsuspecting divers — or players running from the law — unprovoked. There's some payoff to a shark attack, however. Being killed in the big blue by one of these toothy beasts will reward players with the "Out of Your Depth" achievement. Unless you're after this particular achievement, it's fairly easy to avoid sharks. But what if there were something ... bigger hidden in the depths?


Not too far off the coast of Banham Canyon, players with a penchant for scuba diving discovered something much bigger, and considerably scarier in its implications. A giant skeleton so large that it could be mistaken for rock formations lay there in a watery grave. Players wondered if these were the remains of a massive sea monster, but later it became clear that the bones belonged to a whale. Even knowing this, the sight of a skull larger than a truck can still be startling, especially when you're trying to avoid sharks in the water.


Prostitutes are people too


Among the many, many controversies that Rockstar Games has collected over the years, the debated decision to include the solicitation of sex workers in the GTA universe is one that continues to gather infamy. There has been many a think-piece published about how this teaches men to disrespect and abuse women. The fact that there are tutorials on YouTube encouraging players to kill prostitutes once they've paid them in order to get their money back is admittedly disturbing.


The prostitutes in GTA5 are more detailed than previous games. Their appearances vary, along with the ways they ask players if they're interested in a good time. Players have noted that Los Santos prostitutes reflect the darker reality of prostitution: some shiver, or shuffle unsurely, signs of possible addictions. They don't put up with sustained harassment. If players linger after being told to go away, they'll call the cops. They smoke and chat with each other, less like the caricatures of past games. Heartbreakingly, players have noted that sometimes they'll hear one take a phone call and discuss their student loan debt. This is just the kind of sadly realistic detail that makes the world of Los Santos more immersive than ever.


Sasquatch lives on Chiliad


The Los Santos city seal knows the truth: Bigfoot is real. This mythic ape-like creature has haunted the imaginations of both people IRL and in the GTA universe. While evidence is inconclusive as to whether the Sasquatch is really roaming the forests of the Pacific Northwest, we have undeniable, irrefutable proof that he walks among the trees on Mount Chiliad in GTA5.


There are several ways players can encounter the big man Bigfoot himself in-game. In the mission "Predator," players will briefly spot the beast standing still. Trying to zoom in on him with a scope will prompt the creature to be true to his elusive nature and disappear. Another mission is all about hunting Bigfoot. In "The Last One," players aid a hunter who has been searching for the Sasquatch for years. Upon actually finding and shooting the creature, however, it turns out to be nothing more than a man in a mask with questionable fantasies.


Finally, you can become Bigfoot if you've gone through the trouble of 100%-ing the game and tracking down the Golden Peyote. Consuming it will put players into a state wherein they are big, hairy, and strong. Playing as Bigfoot, you can still drive and use weapons, but a good old fashioned fight is what awaits players at the end of this event.


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BIZARRE THINGS GAMERS DID IN GTA


BY CHRISTOPHER GATES/MARCH 12, 2019 6:20 PM EDT

Grand Theft Auto is known as a sandbox game for a reason: it's a place where you make your own fun. Yes, the developers over at Rockstar Games have filled Liberty City, Vice City, and Los Santos with quests, side missions, collectibles, and mysteries, but diehard GTA players know that those only last so long. The reason why Grand Theft Auto 5 remains at the top of the sales charts years after release isn't the content that ships with the game. It's all the trouble that players get up to once the main storyline has wrapped.


Competing in races, sticking up convenience stores, and hunting for UFOs only held players' attentions for so long. Grand Theft Auto 5 (and its multiplayer component, Grand Theft Auto Online) celebrated its fifth birthday in 2018. That's plenty of time for the GTA faithful to find new, utterly bizarre ways to play their favorite game. Look, fans are a creative bunch. It should come as no surprise that, given enough time and left to their own devices, things started to get weird. Go ahead and take a look.


The dam thing won't break


Grand Theft Auto sells a specific fantasy: it gives you a big, open, digital world where you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. It's a good sales pitch. It's also not true. There are limits to the amount of chaos that you can cause. Just ask the players who spent countless hours trying to blow up Los Santos' Land Act Dam in an effort to flood the city below.


As Kotaku reports, players have been fixated on blowing up the dam since before the game came out. They've tried everything. One player stacked 10,000 missiles on the Land Act Dam, hoping to blow it into smithereens. They've rammed it with blimps. They've shot it with guns, and rockets, and nuclear bombs. Despite all of that, the dam remains standing.


There is a method to this madness, sort of. Grand Theft Auto 5's code has a "destructible object" called an aqueduct, which some people think refers to the dam. There's a piece of coral on a nearby hillside, which seems to hint at a previous flood — or could just be a bug. A photo in an in-game building shows Los Santos falling victim to a tsunami-sized wave. You can flood GTA's ersatz Los Angeles with mods, but that's not exactly the same thing. For now, the city is safe — but the would-be dambusters will keep trying until Los Santos is underwater.


Do no harm


Plenty of people try to play Grand Theft Auto without breaking any traffic laws. Given the way that GTA is designed, which presumes anarchy as the default state, playing the role of a defensive driver can actually be an interesting challenge for people who have done everything else the game has to offer.


Few players go as far as Jeremy Mattheis, aka GoldVision, aka the self-proclaimed GTA Pacifist. When Mattheis plays Grand Theft Auto Online, he tries to do it without hurting anyone. Ever. Anywhere. If the game makes Mattheis commit a crime, he'll find some way to repay his karmic debt. If his life depends on violence, he'll reluctantly relent. Otherwise, Mattheis tries to play things safe. In the first episode, GTA Online forces Mattheis to hold up a gas station. He makes up for that by buying hundreds sodas from the store clerk in order to "give back" the money he stole, plus a little extra to pay for the therapy that the clerk probably needs.


But that leads to another problem: when your character drinks a soda, he throws the can on the ground. That's littering. It's bad for the environment. So, Mattheis decides that he can only drink sodas in a walk-in dumpster, keeping the garbage off the streets. Mattheis tells Vice that his goal is to show that "it's possible ... to survive and engage peacefully with all other sentient beings. Also, irony." While it may not be the most fun way to play, it's absolutely fascinating to watch.


Attack of the clones


If you've spent any time at all playing Grand Theft Auto Online, you know that, for all of the game's many strengths, it's got one big problem: it's a hacker's paradise. Some hacks cause players to suffer sudden, unexplained deaths. Others shower players with money in misguided efforts to get them banned. Grand Theft Auto is a game about breaking the rules. It's no surprise that some players apply that attitude to the game itself.


If there's an upside to Grand Theft Auto Online's hacking community, though, it's that unauthorized cheats can make things go absolutely bonkers. Just look at what happened to Idle Thumbs host and game designer Nick Breckon. While playing Grand Theft Auto Online, Breckon ran afoul of a hacker, but the digital ne'er-do-well didn't just use their virtual superpowers to steal cash or kill Breckon's character. Instead, they used a GTA hack to force Breckon to give a green-haired copy of his character a piggy-back ride. And that's just the beginning.


While Breckon tried to get rid of his unwanted passenger with some vehicular-assisted suicide, green-haired clone started popping up all over the street. Breckon fought them off with a semi truck. It didn't work. He killed himself, but death's sweet embrace only provided a temporary reprieve. Eventually, the hacker came back. The creepy ones always do.


A different kind of ride


Despite what you might've heard on the news, Grand Theft Auto is not a game about killing prostitutes for points, but it's also not great when it comes to female representation. There are too many issues to really get into here, but suffice it to say that Grand Theft Auto has a well-documented misogynistic streak, and it seems content to portray most of its female characters as bimbos, psychopaths, and sex objects — or, occasionally, all three at once.


That's the game, though, not the players. You don't have to hire hookers or visit strip clubs in your GTA5 playthrough (well, not unless you're gunning for that 100% completion title), and you don't have to treat its sex workers like garbage. Look at how Reddit user jason_stanfield plays Grand Theft Auto. He doesn't pick up prostitutes in the game for a quickie. He just wants a friend. "Sometimes I get lonely so I'll pick up a prostitute," Jason writes. "I don't want sex or anything; I just want some company while I drive around."


The women aren't great conversationalists, Jason admits, and they tend to flee as soon as he stops the car. Still, it's kind of sweet. Ignore the part about Jason harassing shop clerks, though. It seems that good intentions only go so far.


Bullseye!


If Rockstar isn't giving you enough to do in Grand Theft Auto Online, don't worry. You can always create your own fun. In addition to all of the missions that Rockstar's added to GTAO over the years, the game also lets players make their own jobs. Most are simple races, competitive gunfights, or capture-the-flag variants. A few are straight-up bonkers.


"Bloody Darts," created by the succinctly named DpLoMaTiKiMuNeT, is the latter. In Bloody Darts, you have a circular dartboard-like set up on the ground, and a number of tall structures around it. Your goal? "Play darts, but instead leap from a building and use your body as the dart." As you hurtle through the air and smash your body against the concrete, you'll score points for where inside the circle you land. Five points for hitting the "board" at all. A hundred for a bullseye. If you knock over a stack of tires, double your score. First player to reach 500 points wins.


It's not entirely automated — if you play "Bloody Darts," you and your friends will need to keep score yourselves — but DpLoMaTiKiMuNeT did provide sniper rifles to observe the action from afar (and punish cheaters, we'd imagine). On one hand, it's suicide as a parlor game. On the other, it beats GTA's regular darts minigame by a long, bloody mile.


Pip pip, cheerio, you're under arrest


Many Grand Theft Auto players role-play as police officers. With the "Los Santos Police Department: First Response" mod, you can see how the other side of GTA's perpetual cops-and-robbers conflict lives. Modder Albo1125 and his ilk don't just play as good guys, however. They're not just cops. They're British cops, who patrol the streets of the east London suburb Leytonstone.


Sound boring? Oh, it is — by design. Albo and his fellow modders haven't just recreated British police uniforms and emergency vehicles: they strictly adhere to UK law, too. That means carrying around nightsticks when they're on duty — and maybe a tazer — but no guns. It means following the GOWISELY protocol when conducting searches. It means that, if a case exceeds the local police's authority, the virtual cops will hand the crime off to other agencies rather than solving it themselves.


Albo's YouTube channel is full of videos of police conducting child services investigations, pulling over drivers for texting while on the road, and directing traffic. It sounds silly, but Albo and his friends take it very seriously. Many of them want to have careers in law enforcement in real life, too — and if that doesn't work out, Albo always has his 5.1 million YouTube views to fall back on.


Getting off track on purpose


In real life, it's easy to derail a train. Take out a couple of bolts or put some leaves on the tracks, and your job is more or less done. Ironically, in Grand Theft Auto 5 — a game that's all about breaking things — it's a lot harder, which means people have tried everything they can think of to bring destruction to Los Santos' railways.


And we do mean everything. As Kotaku reports, players have discovered that crowds of civilians won't so much as slow Grand Theft Auto 5's trains down. Neither will Superman, the dude who's famous for being more powerful than a locomotive. Trains will plow straight through buildings and push UFOs and pods of whales aside with ease. Another train won't get the job done. Not even nature itself can halt Los Santos' unstoppable choo-choos. Hitting a train with a tsunami might cause a few glitches, but that little engine keeps on chugging away.


If you delve into the single-player campaign, there's one train in one mission that can be stopped, but that feels like more than a consolation prize than a real solution. Oh, and by the way: early in Grand Theft Auto Online's lifespan you could stop the train via sticky bombs, but Rockstar patched that right out. For shame, Rockstar. For shame.


On pins and Nissans


In Grand Theft Auto, cars are more than a way of getting from place to place. They're weapons. They're prizes to be won. They're your partners in (literal) crime, they're the tools you need to pull off death-defying stunts, and they're crucial parts of Los Santos' burgeoning sports scene, too. Naturally, auto races are a big part of the Grand Theft Auto landscape, but you can also use your automobile for everything from Rocket League-style soccer to bowling.


Yes, bowling — but not just any type of bowling. This is bowling Grand Theft Auto Online-style. In "Racing Alley," a custom job made by Rockstar's staff, the Sandy Shores airfield becomes a circular bowling lane, complete with 30-foot bowling pins and one giant bowling ball.


Racing Alley is still a race, so if you want to win you'll probably want to avoid hitting the pins. If you simply want to see what happens when a fragile sports car collides with a bowling pin the size of a two-story house, go ahead and hit all of 'em. If this was the kind of bowling that Roman had been talking about, we would've actually answered his calls instead of banishing him to an underwater hatch. If only.


The case of two lifetimes


Chris Cone, a junior detective with the Los Santos Police Department, was answering a routine call with his fiancee Renee Loire when things took a nasty turn. When Cone and Loire arrived at the scene of the crime, they were both gunned down by mystery assailants — mysterious to Chris and Renee's in-game characters, that is. As Polygon reports, Cone and Loire are just two of the many, many Grand Theft Auto role-players out there, and while they saw that the motorcycle gang The Condemned was behind the double homicide, their digital avatars were dead before they caught a glimpse of the attackers.


When Cone respawned, he had a new, very personal case: he had to solve his own murder. That proved challenging for a number of reasons. Cone the player had to obey strictly enforced rules and pretend that he didn't know his attacker's identity, even though he saw the attack with his own eyes. In the game, the trail quickly went cold, leaving detective Cone without any leads to pursue (Grand Theft Auto Online's lack of any real crime-solving tools didn't help, either).


Eventually, a member of The Condemned — Renee's virtual sibling, who wasn't happy that his gang had killed his sister — flipped, giving the LSPD enough evidence to mount a RICO investigation. It didn't stick, and Cone became a walking dead man. Members of The Condemned, as well as a few other up-and-coming gangs, blamed the detective for their legal troubles, and he was assassinated — again — a month later. This time, it was permanent.


When a game is not just a game


It's been 30 years, and we still can't agree whether or not video games are art, but there's no question that video games can be used to create art. If you need proof, look at what Scottish professor Joseph DeLappe is doing. In 2003, DeLappe re-enacted an episode of Friends in Quake 3. In 2006, he used the US Army's recruiting game, America's Army, to honor soldiers who died in the Iraq War. In 2008, he recreated Gandhi's Salt March in Second Life, and in 2018, he launched Elegy: GTA USA Gun Homicides, a digital art project that uses Grand Theft Auto — one of the most intentionally violent games ever — to protest gun violence.


Every night at midnight, Elegy gathers data from the Gun Violence Archive, and then spends the next 24 hours re-creating each and every gun-related homicide in the USA since January 1, 2018 in Grand Theft Auto 5. DeLappe doesn't play directly; the mod technically plays itself, slowly panning across Los Santos' corpse-littered streets and broadcasting the results to Twitch. Every day, the bodies pile up, all while a jaunty old-time rendition of "God Bless America" loops in the background.


It is haunting and bizarre and not fun at all. Then again, it's not supposed to be. Elegy serves as a surprisingly powerful statement on both American gun culture and Grand Theft Auto's off-handed glorification of violence. It's art. It's allowed to be a little weird.


Today's episode of GTA has been brought to you by the letters W, T, and F


If your parents ever told you that you could never make a living playing video games, they were wrong. In addition to all of the standard ways that people pay the bills via gaming — esports competitions, streaming, and so on — there's also an entire cottage industry out there where people use Grand Theft Auto to make kids' shows for YouTube.


These aren't regular kids' videos, though. They're little more than pop-culture fever dreams. Using a combination of mods and Grand Theft Auto 5's director mode, anonymous filmmakers have created bizarre unlicensed mashups starring Marvel superheroes, Cars characters, the cast of Frozen, SpongeBob, and others. Sometimes, they go on adventures. Other times, they ride bikes and drive forklifts. Nursery rhymes like "The Muffin Man" and "The Finger Family" play on repeat in the background. The titles are always crammed full of search-friendly keywords and rarely make any sense. There are thousands of these videos, and many of them have millions of views.


It's not clear who's producing these things, although it's pretty easy to guess why: GTA5 makes these kinds of videos easy to mass produce, and with so many views, the ad money is probably rolling in. Unsettling, vaguely unsavory kids videos aren't a GTA exclusive — YouTube is chock full of different spins on the same formula  — but entertaining children is certainly an, ahem, unique use for Rockstar's M-rated shooter, and one we're pretty sure the company didn't see coming. We sure didn't.


Admiral, there be whales here!


Sometimes, players don't want to find new ways to play Grand Theft Auto, or push the limits of the game's simulation, or use GTA to live out a lifelong fantasy or make some kind of big statement. Sometimes, making things really damn weird is motivation enough. Why did BJ, the man behind the GTAmissions YouTube channel, team up with a bunch of other streamers to create a pod of parachuting whales? It doesn't matter. The real question is, why not?


So, BJ and his friends took a fleet of Ruiner 2000s, Grand Theft Auto Online's jumping, parachute-enabled cars, combined them with a pod of whales, and took them to a custom-made ramp high above Los Santos. Then, they launched their whales into the air, deployed the chutes, made some, well, seal noises (look, we're already well beyond the bounds of traditional marine biology here), and watched what happened.


There's not really much more to say. When you hear the phrase "parachuting whales," you know exactly what you're going to get, and the GTAmissions video lives up to every expectation. Whether you're stealing cars or taking aquatic mammals skydiving, Grand Theft Auto is odd, chaotic, unpredictable, dark, and above all else, lots of fun — and that's why we love it.


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GTA EASTER EGGS YOU MISSED IN OTHER GAMES


BY SHAWN FARNER/JAN. 10, 2019 3:43 PM EDT/UPDATED: JAN. 22, 2019 11:33 AM EDT

There's no studio quite like Rockstar Games.


The company truly lives up to its name in the world of video games, attaining a status in the industry that, arguably, stands tall with some of its heaviest hitters. Rockstar's games have done billions of dollars in sales. Players wait ever so anxiously for each new release. And, like an actual rock star, the company is sometimes front-page news for some controversial reasons.


It's no wonder other developers like to pay homage to Rockstar in their games. And that Rockstar would pay homage to itself.


The Grand Theft Auto series is by far Rockstar's biggest franchise. And you can find a host of GTA Easter eggs in games made by other companies, as well as other games made by Rockstar. Some are pretty out in the open, while others require some knowledge of past GTA titles. The one thing they all have in common, though? It's always fun to find them.


Here are the GTA Easter eggs you missed in other games.


Niko plans a heist in Spider-Man


Grand Theft Auto 4's Liberty City is basically a knock-off version of New York City. And, as it just so happens, New York City is the place that Marvel's Spider-Man takes place. Spidey swings through well-known NYC tourist spots all the time while foiling criminal plans. And in one side mission, he finds himself overhearing another plot about to unfold.


Who does Spider-Man overhear? Why, it's someone who goes by the name of Niko.


One could argue that Insomniac Games didn't mean for this to be Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto 4, but it's hard to dispute the evidence. For starters, the character has the trademark jumpsuit Niko so often wore. And to top it off, he makes mention of the getaway driver — his cousin — that will be helping them with the heist they're planning.


That driver is, of course, named Roman.


As Spider-Man, you can intervene and make sure the heist never gets off the ground. And you'll have prevented innocent people from being robbed — and likely, prevented Roman from going bowling afterward.


Red Dead 2's Dutch borrows an alias from a character in GTA 4


If you've played through Red Dead Redemption 2, you're well aware that things pretty much never go right for the Van der Linde gang. Their planned robberies almost always fall apart. Their schemes tend to blow up in their faces. And the Pinkerton Detective Agency always seems to be right on their tails. It shouldn't have come as a surprise that the gang's holdup in Saint Denis went badly.


And it really shouldn't have come as a surprise that the gang's escape on a transport ship ended with them shipwrecked and stranded in Guarma.


What's left of the gang comes face to face almost instantly with the hired henchmen of a criminal kingpin on the island. And Dutch — who always seems to have a plan — does some quick thinking when he's asked for his name. He answers with "Aiden O'Malley," which might not have rung a bell if you never set foot in the world of Grand Theft Auto 4.


But for those who played Rockstar's other classic, the name might have made a light bulb go off. As it turns out, Aiden O'Malley is also a character in GTA 4's "Tunnel of Death" mission — and just one of many hat tips Rockstar gives to the GTA series in Red Dead Redemption 2.

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