GTAV: it’s not always about the story missions
It was the perfect afternoon for a drive.
I turned the convertible from the wide-laned freeway onto a mountain road, headed back towards the suburbs of Los Santos, the Pacific Ocean glistening to my right. Not a cloud in the clear, blue sky. Phil Collins, I think, was playing on the radio. It was the perfect day. Serene and calm.
I spotted what looked like a cyclist up a head, dancing on the pedals of his road bike, his body gently rocking from side to side as he made his way up the incline. A lot of small touches had impressed me before in GTAV but this one felt personal, this one resonated with me: A tanned and fit cyclist, kitted out in sponsor-emblazoned lycra, riding a sleek racing bike was out for an afternoon bike ride.
I slowed down and just followed him: transfixed at this virtual cyclist ascending a mountain road. I sped ahead and got out, activating the camera on my smart phone, hoping to get a good photo of what I’d seen. I snapped as he rode past. I’m sure he looked at me, strangely, but he kept on climbing.
Unfortunately, as I walked back to the car, a few hundred metres up the road, another vehicle drove past, wiping out my open door. My convertible now not only had the top down, but it only had one door. Still, this was a day where nothing could bother me.
I passed the cyclist again, stopped and took some more photos. He gave me another funny look as he rode past.
On the descent I followed quietly behind, the cyclist freewheeling and gliding down the hill, pedaling every now and then to keep his momentum up.
Nearing the bottom of the hill, as the road joined a larger road, there was a service station (gas station) and the cyclist rode into the car parking area, dismounted and pulled out his smart phone. Mysteriously, his bike just stood upright by itself but that’s OK. This is a game: Sometimes I can suspend belief.
He was a well-tanned individual, slightly European looking, but he was acting weird. I took some snaps of him and his bike, but as I focussed in on the bike frame (I am somewhat obsessed by bicycle frames) I heard him talking to someone on his phone: It was the police. He was saying some like I was being an arsehole and could they get here.
I stood amazed. Here was a non-integral person in the game having an impact on how things were shaping. My mini map suddenly turned a shade of light blue and a blue and red dot appeared on the screen: I knew what had happened here. The police were on their way to have a chat to me about harassing the cyclist.
For the record, I didn’t harass him: I was just taking photos. It’s a pity I can post the screen shots here.
A brief chase ensued but I managed to escape the police by running through a few luxury homes down the road, avoiding their cones of vision and confusing the heck of them.
Some other things I’ve observed; if you almost run over a person in a car and you’re stopped at a set of lights, bystanders will sometimes run over, pull you out of your car and start beating the crap out of you. One of my friends on XB Live told me to stand next a police man and see what happens. I haven’t done it yet but it’s on my list of things to do.
I also want to buy a dock so I can do scuba diving. I hijacked a speed boat one morning and just travelled around the island, seeing how far I could go, what I could see. During one mission involving a submersible in the Pacific Ocean and playing as Trevor, while I waited for Franklin and Michael to arrive, a large shark circled, giving me a bit of a shiver. It was a biggun,
I drove past a house to see a man imploring his wife to stop throwing his golf belongings from the balcony to the roadside. “Who plays golf at midnight?” the wife argues as she throws another bag onto the drive. I gave him and his favourite iron a ride to the golf club and he said he wouldn’t go home until he’d had a “few drinks in me and her meds had kicked in”.
GTAV isn’t just always about the missions and the story but I have to say the game has an appalling attitude towards the depiction of women: They’re either prostitutes, stripper or disgruntled wives/girlfriends/aunts – and that’s really not good in this day and age.
To be honest, I didn’t really start seriously tackling the story missions until I’d explored for a few hours, and that’s where GTAV’s strengths are: Just exploring and trying things. The stats at the Rockstar Social Club says I’ve sunk 21 hours into GTAV and completed about 40 per cent of everything there is to do.
So, I say go forth and explore. You might be surprised what you find.