Grand Theft Auto V is out, and there’s no doubt that all of you are having fun mercilessly causing mayhem around Los Santos.
But think back to all that time you’ve spent in previous GTAs. There was more to it than simply “hijacking cars and shooting hookers.” Some of the fun to be had in the game didn’t have to involve a single bullet or knife shank.
When we weren’t busy performing abominable acts on the streets of Liberty City, Vice City and Los Santos, we were doing loop-de-loops in jet planes, flying on a jetpack between skyscrapers and turning the game into our own personal cab service.
So let’s take a break from the senseless acts of violence that we like to cause in GTA games and reflect on just how versatile one can be in a sandbox title.
Non-violent GTA hobby: Swing-set Car Launching
There’s nothing quite like exploiting the physics engine of a game. Especially when it’s something as whacked out as launching an automobile hundreds of feet into the air by simply backing up into a children’s playground.
Okay, so maybe my one GTA hobby isn’t an entirely peaceful one, but the chances of you actually hurting a pedestrian with the car launching glitch from Grand Theft Auto IV are pretty slim, usually because the environment won’t even load any pedestrians until after your car slams into the ground.
For some oddball reason, cars and swings don’t mix in GTA IV. By simply backing into one, the game’s physics will bug out and turn Niko’s Perennial into a mangled flying contraption. It’s equal parts insane, thrilling and downright hilarious. High-brow police chases? Been there, done that. Competing in car cannon launches with friends and Youtube users? Never gets old.
- Patrick Kulikowski
Non-violent GTA hobby: Getting Fat
San Andreas was the first game in the series to fully implement character customization. CJ, the game’s protagonist, is completely victim to the player’s choice of fashion, haircuts, and diet. It’s not necessary for CJ to eat, but in the lovely metropolis of San Andreas, there is a plethora of pizza, burgers and other types of junk food that the player can mercilessly force him to eat.
And as a result of this wanton feeding, CJ will become fat.
Being fat in San Andreas serves no direct purpose. In fact, it’s detrimental to gameplay since it slows CJ down and makes him short of breath when running. One can only wonder why they even made being fat an option.
What amuses me is that Rockstar clearly put a lot of work and thought into CJ and the perils associated with his body image. There are different character models that track CJ’s journey into obesity, and there are at least 15 minutes worth of quotes from CJ that he will only speak if he’s treated himself to several large pizzas (my favorite being “I’d rather do a drive-through than a drive by”).
In all honesty, making CJ fat is a relatively silly and trivial decision. But the fact that the option exists is a testament to the versatility of San Andreas as a sandbox. As a player, not only can you treat the city and its populace any way you desire, but you can sculpt CJ in any way you see fit. It definitely adds a role-playing element to the game – even if it is a bit unhealthy.
Non-violent GTA hobby: Flying
Ever since I played Microsoft Flight Simulator in whichever-year-it-was back in high school, I have been infatuated with airplanes, even to the point of fantasizing about becoming an aircraft pilot. At this point in my life I have to keep it in the fantasy world of videogames, with the Ace Combat series satiating that desire to be in the sky.
While the Grand Theft Auto series never places a big emphasis on airplanes apart from a select few missions and the occasional joyrides, getting to fly one of them is always a breeze. From GTAIII’s nealy impossiblehandling of the Dodo to San Andreas’ jet planes, I always enjoyed getting in the air and gazing down at the cities from the sky. It changes the whole game’s perspective. Add a parachute to the equation and you can personally enjoy the the thrills of forcing yourself against the wind.
If you would rather take a tour of the town instead of flying around skyscrapers and under bridges at high speeds, there are always helicopters, and nothing beats the pure mayhem of hopping into the Hunter military attack helicopter and laying waste to anything and everyone. That, however beats the point of this week’s picks, so let’s forget about it and just stick with the fun, nimble and crash-tastic Sparrow.
With GTAV’s release, I will one day hunt down and fly the fastest plane I can find, cruise through the skies and probably die shortly after in a horrible fiery death.
Non-violent GTA hobby: Dating
My favorite part of this is less the dating and more the circumstances surrounding the dates. In a normal dating sim, pretty much everything is on rails. In GTA, it’s free roam, so when you go and pick up your girlfriend, things often don’t go as planned. During my time with the game, it was not uncommon for me to drop off my girlfriend after a delightful drive around the city during which I hit several cars and probably a wall or two (I’m not the best driver in GTA). She looks over at my character, says some snippy remark and leaves.
Most people would be losing their mind over the harrowing joyride they just unwillingly participated in but, God bless the virtual girl, we still went out again the next day. Niko just likes ‘em dumb I guess.