I believe in free speech and Grand Theft Auto.
I remember when the first GTA came out — I was in computer apps class and the Korean dude next to me had just downloaded a freeware/trial version of some driving game. When he showed me that the enemies he was shooting and mowing down were cops, I knew this had to be the most awesome game ever made.
Eight incarnations later (GTA, GTA: London, GTA2, GTA3, GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas, GTA: Liberty City Stories, GTA: Vice City Stories, and), GTAIV is still just about the most awesome game ever made.
I happened to play Saint’s Row 2 last weekend. It is a feeble imitation of GTA, and every game where you play a criminal is, too. And an imitator has no worse curse than to be called such until the end of time, or forever; whichever comes first.
But anyway — I want to tell you how GTA is played, and how it is played well. This entire episode took place while listening to the latest episode of the most awesome podcast ever made.
The game autoloads from the latest save point, which was a file called “Story Completed.” The only reason that is the most recent save was because the clock on my XBox 360 was set at the time I completed the story. Currently, I have been playing the game in this, the year of our Lord, 2005, according to said Box. Since I can’t be bothered to set the time on the fucking thing right now, I say, aiight, copy the Story Completed file, then save over the old 2008 save with the new 2005 save.
There I go not making a bit of fucking sense again.
Anyway, here’s how my episode went down:
Nico Bellic had just scheduled a meeting with some lawyers. He had to pose as an applicant for their firm just to get close enough to kill some lawyer named Goldman, steal some files, and return said files to the guy paying you to do this.
So, the lawyers call him back while he’s ripping balls down the streets of Algonquin in a Comet (basically the GTA version of a Porsche) kept saved in the parking space outside the safehouse. Nico hangs up on them.
He takes a crazy turn on a ramp, and he’s been trying to get onto this bridge for like five minutes, and just can’t find the entrance. The lawyers call the cell phone again, again, Nico hangs up. Finally, it looks like Nico is getting onto the bridge after long last, and the lawyers call again. This time Nico answers.
The dialogue plays out, and basically, you have to be at the interview place at 12:00 noon tomorrow. I say I’ll be there, and the game tells me I have to dress smart for the interview. So I’m heading back to my pad to go change into a suit when I get the urge to fire my pistol out the window of the car I’m driving.
I get this sometimes. It’s a kind of compulsion when you play GTA, to just cause trouble or go apeshit. Some people drive really badly in GTA because it’s fun to drive all over the place and hit shit and basically be a fucking lunatic behind the wheel. And then there are good drivers.
I fall in a category closer to the latter, because I try to drive well in this game. I say “try” because I actually don’t give a shit if my car runs over people or rams into other cars. I do not try to be, but am a good driver when I play this game with my soon-to-be two-year old son (he calls it the buu-buu game).
When I say I drove awesome this night, I say I drove like the fucking wind with the cops on my tail across bridges, onto some old train tracks, up a ramp, and into the ocean. I really did all that and shot at another taxi while on the bridge, hoping a cop would slam into it.
At this point, I have a four-star wanted level, and now I’m in the ocean. I swim away underneath another bridge. Under the bridge, nobody confronts Nico, and he finds a stash of 3 molotov cocktails in a connecting tunnel. Nico walks through the tunnel, AK in hands, ready to disperse some more justice, and as he reaches the end of the tunnel, there’s still nobody coming. Finally a couple of shots ring out from behind, and now there are cops in the tunnel. Nico shoots the cops and runs out the other end of the tunnel, ready to kill some more cops if they’re there. They’re not, but now the police boats are finally coming. Nico kills the two armed cops on the deck of one, and then comes aboard before shooting the two on the deck of another boat so close, you can smell the donut sugar in the bacon sweat. Finally, Nico ducks and kills the cop piloting the boat, then gets up and shoots the pilot of the other boat through the window of the bridge. Nico then pulls away, and gets out of the four-star wanted area in almost no time.
Now Nico is at sea. He is still piloting the police boat on the open water above Liberty City’s northeast Island of Bohan or Little Boabo or something (edit: It is Bohan, by the way, which is funny, because the Japanese word 防犯 means “crime prevention”). I then remember where I think a helicopter is parked — which would be great because I still need to change my clothes and get to the interview by 12:00, and it’s already 4:00! It means driving the boat all the way around the fucking airport, down and around the southeast island, and up a river between it and the south central area of Algonquin (Manhattan). I do go all the way around, but not before boatjacking some poor slob on a very fast pimped out speed dinghy (remind me never to say “slob” and “dignhy” in the same sentence again). He jumps ship, and I throw a molotov cocktail at him while he treads water and watches me steal his pride and joy of the sea. It doesn’t explode, and I hope he does something useful with the bottle, like recycle it and collect the deposit.
I actually boat all the way around the fucking islands and up through the river, and get off at the 57th or 45th pier. I don’t know. I think this might be the place with the helicopter, but there is no helicopter there — just a big-ass statue of an anchor and peanut vendor. Nico had taken a lot of damage from the night’s events, and bought a bag of nuts to replenish his health (bar). It worked like a charm, and then he threw a molotov cocktail at the entrance of the dock building. Nico steals a car and gets away, back to the safehouse.
No wait, Nico dies. Then I load up the game again to the moment when I had just made the appointment with the lawyers.
This time Nico changes clothes right away, and is about to try to go find a knife for this mission, when his cousin, Roman calls. Roman wants to get something to eat, at this, 12:00 in the morning. I say, why not — I still got 12 game hours to go. I go in my nice-ass silver Comet (I told you I had it saved), and go to pick up Roman. Basically, I get into the same kind of shit that started off the last chase — maybe something as simple as hitting a cop car. Anyway, they’re after me, and I’m trying to kill a million motherfuckers on a bridge, and my Comet is hauling ass but taking a huge beating. I really like this car, and want to keep it, so I try to make it live all the way to Roman’s, and then we’ll go get it repainted. I lead the cops on a huge chase around the island, pick up Roman when there are many, many cops after me, we peel out and evade the cops while heading north — not to the nearest spray shop, but one that’s two islands away, and I know the way. We evade the cops, make it to the spray shop, and don’t realize that getting the car fixed and repainted takes game time.
Now it is like 10:30, and I only have a little time to get from this point at the north of Algonquin to the Exchange region in South Algonquin. So in my newly re-minted Comet, Roman and I drive down the main avenue at top speed, not hitting a god damn thing. I keep telling Roman in my head, we’ll get lunch right after the interview, don’t worry, I know you’re hungry, etc. When we make finally make it to the Exchange, I park in the wrong place, and then sprint the two blocks to the building I was supposed to go to. We get to the front door, and I’m like “how’s my tie, coozeen?” and he’s like, “eya, it-a looks-a great-a, Nico!” But the mission spot isn’t lighting up. It’s now 12:10, and I’m supposed to be able to go into this building, have my interview, kill the lawyer, and go get lunch with cousin. But as long as that little chevron doesn’t appear, you cannot advance the mission. Some pedestrian in a suit is harrassing Roman, and actually like shoving and punching him and stuff, so I’m like “Hey!” and knock this clown down and kick him to death. But still no chevron. “Are we eating soon, cousin?” Roman asks innocently.
And I realize that going out to eat with your friends in this game actually counts as a mission, and you can’t start or advance another mission mid-mission. Sense? So basically, the only way to end this sub-mission of having lunch with stupid cousin is to shoot him, in the face, in front of the glass doors to the law firm.
It actually works. Nico shoots Roman in the face, and he falls in a puddle of blood from his gouged cheek. What have I done? I say to myself, I should be protecting my cousin from the evils of the world, such as the tyrannical rule of the game that I can’t have my interview, and then take my cousin out to eat. Then Roman gets up, and I say fuck it, and shoot him in the crotch and penis many times until he is dead. The game then gives you a message that your cousin is injured, and his carcass disappears from in front of the firm.
And soon enough, the lawyers call back and tell me that the interview is on, and the chevron appears. I walk into it, and the game tells me I can’t proceed with a wanted level, which I have now because I shot my fat stupid cousin. So I run, and I run, and I run, and lose my wanted level. I go back, and the game now tells me that I can’t take the interview without smart shoes. This is fucking crazy, but I actually run down the god damn street to a high-class clothing store , run in at top speed, shove the security guard out of my way, buy the first pair of shoes I try on, and run out, back to the firm for fucking interview.
On the way, Roman calls. He wants me to pick him up at the hospital. And of course, I agree, and tell him I should be there within the hour. It’s the least I can do for him after shooting him in the face and in the crotch and in the penis.
When I run up to the voice relay outside the front doors, they finally buzz me in, and I show myself into Goldberg’s room. Immediately, I punch Goldberg and make him tell me where the files are (on his desk), and then the game tells to me to get them (which I do) and then to kill him, which I do with a baseball bat. The receptionist walks in, and all hell breaks loose. Everybody in the building with a gun is shooting it at me. I take out the first cop outside of Goldberg’s office with a shotgun, and then next one with a submachine gun. I jump over the railing, and down into the atrium from the mezzanine floor, sustaining a little damage, but still okay enough to shoot the two cops who have just opened the back exits for me. I run out, and actually steal a cop car to get away after shooting the two cops who were just in it. I drive the car away, and escape just barely alive to give the files to the employer (spoiler!), who pays me for a job well done.
Roman’s icon is not appearing on my radar, so I guess I can’t pick him up from the hospital now? Must have been too late with the botched interview, and all. Sorry, Roman. No wait, I’m going to tell him sorry in person, or at least over the phone. I call him, and he sounds quite happy to hear from me, and we end up talking about this girl I just started dating from the game’s online dating service. Roman gives me some advice about women, and we say goodbye. And then I call Kiki, the girl, and ask her out for a date. And what do you know, she agrees.
So, I’m going to pick up Kiki, but I need a car, of course. So I steal one, and when I pull up in front of Kiki’s house with it, the passenger of the car, who I accidentally kidnapped gets out of the shotgun seat and runs down the street screaming just as Kiki is coming down her front steps. She doesn’t ask me, “Who’s that bitch?” and I like that about this girl. Minds her fucking business. I take her to this Italian restaurant around the block from her place. She doesn’t like it, but at least my depleted health is 100% green again. I drive her home, and decide to not try to bone her (I’m hoping she puts out on the third date).
At this time the podcast hosts are closing the episode with their traditional curtain call, “Seatbelts,” and the game saves, and I’m about to call it a day, too. But before I turn it off, I decide to drive back to the actual save point and listen to the outro music (a song by Sade, if you’d like to know).
I put on my seatbelt.
I then go trash the car and get into an accident where I fly out the windshield (in spite of seatbelt), skid down the street and get run over by a truck. Then I get up and steal that truck. My cool-ass Comet is lost somewhere in the Exchange, but now I got this cool-ass truck that I got hit by, and I’m even going to save it in my parking spot, so I’m hauling ass back to the safehouse and listening to Sade song, when I see a sports car dealership just before my turn. I skid the truck 270 degrees around, and plow through the front doors at top speed, and I am not lying when I say there were customers sitting at the little tables in the dealership, talking to the dealers about the purchase of one of their high-end automobiles. There’s a shiny yellow one on the display stage by the window, and I kick out the passenger side window, and everyone watches on in horror as I break in, hotwire the ignition, and drive out through the plate glass windows, down the street, and park in front of my apartment just around the corner. I run inside, up the elevator to my flat, and pass out on the bed to save my gave. I save over the old file, and the song ends.
And that, you people, is how I play Grand Theft Auto.