GTA Online: Heists
Crime truly pays in GTA’s bank-busting buddy-ups
It’s easy to forget, because we focus so much on the freedom and technology of Rockstar’s world-building, that the GTA games are fundamentally crime capers. The fantasy that GTA Online promised has always lacked a little something in that regard – and, finally, heists have arrived.
Heists are two-to-four-player jobs that have multiple stages, require more teamwork than an average mission and climax in something spectacular and a fat payday. The first thing this means is that you should try to play heists with mates and voice chat – the time commitment (jobs can take from 30 minutes to several hours) and probability of restarts means it’s best to work with a committed crew.
We said So good that it almost seems deceitful: like a CG trailer of what the highest level of fun might look like.
The key design choice is that each team member has responsibility. Your role can be as simple as covering points of entry in an alley shoot-out, timing an explosive charge at just the right moment to cut off law enforcement, or turning up with a chopper for the perfect getaway. The first heist, ripping off a local bank, requires only that you case the joint, learn how to drill the safe, then take it down with two players. Simple.
The second ups the ante with jailbreaks, explosives and a spike in difficulty. A defining aspect of heists is that there are no ‘lives’ – if a member of your crew goes down on a job, that’s a wipe. Death is cheap in every other GTA mode so this is an unusual and at first frustrating restriction, but it holds together the whole structure. By brooking no failure, planning and discipline are foregrounded.
You genuinely do not want a loose cannon. You need a driver to rely on. Someone who can get through a shoot-out without dying. You start to notice which of your friends is good at something – and who should return to carjacking grannies.
This is what’s brilliant about heists – they introduce a small layer of role-playing into this loosely structured world. Taking on a heist feels, from the very beginning, like gathering up a crew: you make sure everyone’s online, text the laggards and go to your apartment before running through the job. Heists feel like big, serious events and the structure gives GTA Online a focus it previously lacked, as well as some sensational set-pieces. In other words: criminally good. OXM
Heists unlock when you own a high-end apartment and are level 12 or above. Publisher Rockstar North / Developer Rockstar Games / Format Xbox 360, xbox one / original score 10/10
The big score at the end of each heist always involves a fantastical escape.
Reviewer Richard Stanton Live Private @richstanton