NOW PLAY­ING: GRAND THEFT AUTO V

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GTA On­line’s re­cent Smug­gler’s Run ex­pan­sion brings a host of new airthemed mis­sions to Rock­star’s seem­ingly ev­er­last­ing open-world smash. As sug­gested by the name, you build up a smug­gling em­pire, which you kick off by buy­ing a hangar ei­ther in Los San­tos air­port, or even bet­ter, the mil­i­tary base of Fort Zan­cudo. The lat­ter is a par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing choice, since be­fore now, lin­ger­ing in Zan­cudo for any longer than 20 sec­onds usu­ally ended with a bul­let to the head, or your stolen mil­i­tary air­craft be­ing shot down with rock­ets. Now, it’s the home of my jet-pow­ered crim­i­nal em­pire. Well, I say ‘em­pire’. It’s re­ally more of an op­por­tu­nity for me to ad­mire my col­lec­tion of aero­planes like a friend­less mil­lion­aire.

Zan­cudo is a novel lo­ca­tion to set up shop in Smug­gler’s Run. For play­ers who have driven across GTA V’s lovely map as much as I have, this is the most un­know­able lo­ca­tion re­main­ing, thanks to its pre­vi­ously ag­gres­sive se­cu­rity forces. Now, though, I can waltz in through the front gate on my mo­tor­bike that looks like it was made ex­clu­sively for sad dads, and the army guys just let me drive right past, rather than hunt­ing me down like I just pissed on their chips. It cost a lot of in-game dol­lars for the priv­i­lege, but it was worth it for a few rea­sons.

Aside from the neat sur­round­ings, you see, own­ing a hangar in Zan­cudo also lets you steal air­planes from the mil­i­tary with­out get­ting the at­ten­tion of the po­lice. So rather than hav­ing to save up and buy a Hy­dra jet from in-game shop War­stock, you can pop out­side at any time and steal the sim­i­larly-good Lazer, which is a ter­rific bonus.

Di­ary of a dick

This isn’t nec­es­sar­ily great news for other play­ers, though. I have a con­fes­sion: I’ve grad­u­ally turned into a dick in GTA On­line. Not a full-on me­nace who goes out to grief other play­ers, you un­der­stand, but as I’ve amassed fun toys like my rock­ete­quipped buz­zard chop­per and my HVY Night­mask jeep (which has front-mounted ma­chine guns) I’ve grad­u­ally been us­ing them to spoil other peo­ple’s good times. I’ll turn up, let off a few rock­ets or try to blow up some­one’s car, then flee be­fore my own self-es­teem can be brought down a peg.

Why am I do­ing this, when I hate other play­ers who do this to me? Well, rather than take re­spon­si­bil­ity and chalk it up to an ob­vi­ous per­son­al­ity prob­lem, I’m go­ing to go ahead and blame this on en­nui to­wards mod­ern life and a lin­ger­ing sense of po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty. Yeah, that’ll do. The other thing is, this kind of chaos and play­er­cre­ated in­ter­rup­tion is the essence of GTA On­line, to some de­gree. These ve­hi­cles are sold with at­tached weapons for a rea­son, and GTA’s rarely been about po­lite­ness to­wards your fel­low man. I don’t feel good about my­self when I fly my Lazer over a high­way and send a cou­ple of rock­ets ex­plod­ing into an­other player’s car, but I do feel some­thing.

Re­cent events have chal­lenged my grow­ing sense of im­moral­ity, though.

GTA’s busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties are the way to make big money in the game, and they re­quire com­plet­ing a bunch of sup­ply mis­sions be­fore trav­el­ling across the map to de­liver them on a pub­lic server. This means other play­ers can in­ter­rupt the jour­ney if you’re un­lucky,

It’s too tempt­ing to re­sist be­ing an­ti­so­cial in Grand Theft Auto V. So why even try? Sa­muel roberts Pub­lisher Rock­star games / De­vel­oper Rock­star NortH / for­mat Xbox One / re­lease date novem­ber 2014

as your sup­plies pop up on the map for ev­ery­one to see. In­clud­ing me.

An­gel from above

I join a server and leave my hangar. I jump into a Lazer and take off, my in­ten­tion be­ing to para­chute onto the city’s pier and pot­ter around for no real rea­son. On the way, though, a red icon pops up on the map, show­ing that a sup­ply mis­sion is tak­ing place on a nearby hilly road. If I kill these guys, there could be a fair chunk of cash up for grabs, and if noth­ing else, it will an­noy them, which is ap­par­ently what I en­joy do­ing these days. I fly over, and po­lice are swarm­ing the two ve­hi­cles per­form­ing the de­liv­er­ies. Hop­ing to hit the play­ers, I let off a few rock­ets, and ac­ci­den­tally bring down two of the three he­li­copters un­load­ing ma­chine gun fire upon them. Ah well, I’ll try again. I come in for an­other pass, this time send­ing rock­ets to­wards the cars in the midst of the chase. Un­for­tu­nately, the rock­ets home in on the po­lice cars in­stead, clear­ing a path for the de­liv­ery. This is not go­ing well.

An­other pass: more cop cars blow up, while the hu­man play­ers re­main un­scathed. What the hell? I turn the Lazer’s hom­ing func­tion off, and freefire rock­ets at them in­stead, but again I nar­rowly miss, and hit an­other cop car. By the time I turn for an­other pass, they’ve reached their des­ti­na­tion and the sup­plies are lost for­ever. You can pic­ture what I did there, reader. I didn’t troll them: I in­ad­ver­tently helped them fin­ish the mis­sion. An­noy­ingly, there’s now a slightly warm feel­ing build­ing within me that’s the re­sult of be­ing nice to some­one in an on­line game. How aw­ful. Then a no­ti­fi­ca­tion pops up: the play­ers who I just helped in­vite me to join their mo­tor­cy­cle club. I’m slightly moved. They think I’m a good man, and they want to re­ward my self­less pro­tec­tion ser­vices with an out­reach of friend­ship in this cold world of on­line, never know­ing the truth that I wanted to mur­der them and steal their stuff just for a laugh. I could pre­tend that I am the per­son they be­lieve me to be, and put my­self back on a righ­teous path in GTA On­line. Well, as righ­teous as you can get in a game where can shoot fireworks at pedes­tri­ans for fun.

I’m not that guy, though. I will con­tinue down the road of bad be­hav­iour and ig­nore their friendly ges­ture, van­ish­ing to­wards the coast in my Lazer, be­fore ac­ci­den­tally crash­ing it into a build­ing. I’m run­ning with scis­sors in GTA On­line, and that’s just the way it’s go­ing to be. I didn’t choose the dick life – the dick life chose me.

“I will con­tinue down the road of bad be­hav­iour and ig­nore their friendly ges­ture”

098

above Not a car that should be scratched – but it will be.

be­low Buy­ing a hangar isn't cheap, par­tic­u­larly in Fort Zan­cudo, but it's a pretty way to store your air­planes in GTA On­line.

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