A Grand Theft Auto game lives & dies on its mission structure. Each GTA features tons of missions that further the story, expand the world & reveal new opportunities for your morally bankrupt protagonist to commit mayhem. Some missions stand out from the rest, whether due to its insane shenanigans, monumental story events, or unexpected difficulty spikes. Let’s take a look at the top 5 missions in Grand Theft Auto. And for more, make sure to also check our top 5 GTA games.
5. Wrong Side Of The Tracks – GTA: San Andreas
We all knew that this mission would appear somewhere on this list, so let’s get it out of the way. The Wrong Side Of The Tracks is an early mission in GTA: San Andreas, best remembered for its surprising difficulty level, despite its simple premise. This is the third of a total four missions you’ll do with your homie, Big Smoke, a character that entered meme history for his extensive fast food order.
Smoke is having issues with a local Mexican gang called the Vagos. After a short cutscene, Big Smoke asks you to drive him to Union Station, where you’ll come upon several Vagos members, attempting to escape on the top of a train. All you need to do is follow the train, while Smoke takes care of the gang members. Easy, right? No, no, it’s not. Not only is Smoke a terrible shot, but your targets are bullet sponges that take triple the damage of a regular target. CJ can’t even take pot shots, instead relying on AI to be accurate; plus, if you crash your bike once, there’s no way you’ll be able to catch up.
The train travels throughout Los Santos, into the country, eventually crossing the bridge leading to Las Ventures. If you fail to kill the four targets before crossing the bridge, you fail the mission & have to drive the long road back to town. The journey back is annoying enough, but the scathing words of Big Smoke have stayed with GTA fans for many years since. “All you had to do was follow the damn train, CJ!”
4. Demolition Man – GTA: Vice City
GTA: Vice City has an awesome soundtrack, wacky characters & many memorable missions, but one stands out for me. Demolition Man involves you freeing up some real estate for corrupt developer, Avery Carrington. To complete this mission you’ll have to blow up the construction currently occupying the land. This is one of many RC missions to be found in the early GTA games; they’re not fun, require high levels of accuracy & handle horribly.
Upon entering the “top fun” van, located just down the road from where the mission begins, you take control of an RC helicopter. You must plant four bombs in the adjacent construction site—one for each level of the building—while avoiding gun fire from security guards. Attacking these guards with the blade of the copter will make the mission easier, but the toy can’t take a lot of damage. Once all the bombs have been planted, the building explodes.
This mission was the bane of my life back in 2002; I ended up having to get my father to do it for me. I tend to play every GTA game once a year, so this mission is no longer a pain to complete; in fact, I could probably complete it with my eyes closed. Whether this is due to muscle memory or skill is immaterial; the rage that I felt while attempting demolition man for the first time has never left me. It’s a mission that I cherish & despise in equal measure.
3. Friend Request – GTA V
Grand Theft Auto has always represented a satirical representation of modern or historical culture & few missions exemplify this more than GTA V’s Friend Request. This mission takes a swipe at our social media obsessed culture, specifically Facebook & its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. The mission is one big dig at the relaxed work ethic of modern tech companies, not to mention their dubious motives for seeping into every facet of our lives.
This is one of the missions given to Michael by his hacker friend, Lester, a paranoid techie with a deep mistrust of the social media company Life Invader. Lester wants you to sabotage the upcoming live presentation of the Life Invader mobile phone by planting an explosive device in the demo device. To get into the building, Michael must don the typical clothing of a millennial Silicon Valley employee. Michael meets one of the Life Invader employees who, under the illusion that he is a tech support worker, requires Michael to remove some viruses from his computer. Once the bomb is planted, make your way home and watch the explosive live unveiling of the Life Invader phone.
Friend Request isn’t a hard mission, nor is it a long one. It’s the stinging rebuke of social media’s influence that makes this mission one of the most memorable of GTA V. Despite the obvious issues with social media that have only worsened since the game’s release in 2013, we still choose to share an ever-increasing amount of personal information about ourselves. The mission may poke fun at social media companies, but we have all played our part in the permeation of them.
GTA V is available for PS4, Xbox One & PC.
2. In The Air Tonight – GTA: Vice City Stories
The GTA series has never shied away from having a bit of celebrity talent, & although recent entries have avoided having too many recognisable voices, the 6th generation instalments reveled in star power. In GTA: Vice City Stories, the bar was raised higher by having one of the most famous voices of the 80’s, Phil Collins. You come across this mission while working for avant-garde film director, Reni Wassulmaier, who once had a relationship with Phil’s manager.
After several missions that see protagonist Vic acting as Phil’s bodyguard, he has a concert at the Hyman Memorial Stadium. The mission sees you up in the rafters, dealing with saboteurs who want to kill Phil, all while he sings his classic ’80s tune, “In the Air Tonight”. As a lover of ’80s music, this mission was a joy to play. Once all the goons have been dealt with & Phil’s safe, you can buy a ticket costing $6,000 to hear an uninterrupted rendition of the song. GTA IV may have had comedy shows, but you can’t beat a bit of ’80s soft rock.
GTA: Vice City Stories isn’t available on modern hardware, but if you still own a PS2, you can pick up a copy.
1. Three Leaf Clover – GTA IV
GTA IV may be the black sheep of the family but there is no doubt that Three Leaf Clover is the perfect GTA mission. Before the heist-focused story of GTA V, you had Niko & his Irish allies robbing the Bank of Liberty, smack-dab in the middle of the city. After several missions of ingratiating yourself with the McReary brothers, they offer you the chance to join them in bank robbery of the century. The McReary’s are a dysfunctional family made up of hardened criminals, heroine addicts & crooked cops; suffice to say, this job was never going to go well, and it doesn’t.
In a scene straight out of a classic heist film, the gang enter the bank & begin the process of breaking into the vault, using C4 (or PE4). Things soon go awry when an overly brave pedestrian shoots one of your crew, getting himself killed in the process. The entire police force of Liberty City is right outside the bank, ready to blow away anyone who exits the front doors, so the crew pick up as much money as they can carry & ready themselves for the escape. The remainder of the mission involves you fighting your way through waves of cops, starting with a fire fight through the streets of Liberty, moving into the tunnels of the underground & ending with an in-vehicle escape.
Three Leaf Clover ties together the story threads of the main game with that of the story expansions. Luis, the protagonist of The Ballad of Gay Tony, is one of the hostages in the bank & acts as the opening cutscene for that story expansion. GTA IV didn’t go for the insanity of previous instalments, instead focusing on smaller scale stories of the darker side of inner city life. The game was in desperate need of some bombastic action & Three Leaf Clover provided that in spades.