This year will mark the 20th anniversary of one of the most controversial video game franchises in history; Grand Theft Auto. One of my earliest memories was when I had a sleepover with a few of my school chums and my friend, Chris, brought the first in the GTA series over to my house. “So what, you steal cars?” I asked as I watched myself control a car as I looked down on it from the sky. At this time, the only top-view car games I had played were Micro Machines, so I wasn’t terrible impressed, but then the mayhem began. At this point in my gaming career, blood was mostly found in horror and fighting games, such as Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse.
Over the past couple decades, Grand Theft Auto has evolved from mindless steal and shoot missions to having you be a dealer, a crime lord, and even the head of a gang. They’ve implemented swearing and dismemberment as technology has advanced along with the aging of the franchise. GTA has even inspired copycats and A-list celebrities begging to voice one of their many shady characters. It’s no secret this series has inappropriate themes, but the real question about the series is “What is the worst of the worst?”
15 Treacherous Slimeball
Aside from the first installment, now considered tame by comparison, my first run-in of the series was Vice City; a fun little romp in 1980s “Miami.” It was fun listening to A Flock of Seagulls and Billy Idol as I committed vehicular manslaughter on the palm tree lined streets. After seven missions of basic tutorials, you are given a chainsaw and ordered to kill a “Treacherous Slimeball.” Just the mission’s name puts a grin on my face today. Now, you don’t have to use the chainsaw as the game gives you the freedom to switch to a gun if you so desire, but how could you resist? I found myself increasing the volume as the chains roared through my tube television set and yelling “Die, motherf*****, die!” This was the first mission that truly brought out my sadistic side and I thank it for that.
14 Five Star Wanted Rating
One of the most unique aspects of the Grand Theft Auto series are the consequences for doing the wrong thing. In most other video games of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, you weren’t punished for killing and stealing because that was the whole point of the adventure, but in GTA you are required to break the law and get away with it. There are different degrees of bad, just like in real life. For example, stealing a car in front of a cop isn’t nearly as bad as murdering someone in broad daylight and you are punished accordingly with stars. When this happens during a mission, you find yourself frantically fleeing the scene, but when I’m between missions, I just see it as a challenge and I find myself shooting helicopters with rocket launchers and chucking grenades at cop cars; how long can you last?
13 Marriage Counseling
In the most recent and most beautiful installment of the game, you find yourself controlling three separate characters during the course of the game. One of these character’s names is Michael, an aging criminal under witness protection with bad kids and a cheating wife. After getting to know this conman for a while, you take a trip with him and his new thuggish friend Franklin to seek revenge on his wife’s lover. “What if they’re banging right now?” I asked as I drove to the blinking dot that housed my soon-to-be victim. After we drove up to the house, I was in awe of what unfolded as Michael connected a cable to the house that balconied along the mountainside. He floored the truck and down came the fancy home. I wondered if I would do that for my wife; I’d like to think I would.
12 Home Invasion
To this day, one of my favorite episodes of Grand Theft Auto is San Andreas and it takes place in their own little version of Los Angeles. You portray a young man fresh out of jail that makes the wise decision to reconnect with his old gang and start breaking the law again; will these kids ever learn? Upon completion of the ninth mission, your next task is to rob a war veteran for his guns without waking him and before the sun rises in 8 minutes. This added a bit of nervousness to the mission and Carl aka “CJ” just looks rather silly in a ski mask when paired with a wife-beater. There you are, taking box by box as the old man lie snoring in the background and feeling a bit guilty, but you eventually get over it when you are rewarded with spoils.
11 Hijacking An Ambulance
If it’s one thing Grand Theft Auto is known for, it’s stealing cars; it is it’s namesake. Since the beginning of GTA time (1997), you have been able to steal just about anything with wheels in GTA from cars and trucks to government vehicles and bicycles, then eventually flying aircrafts. One of the great things about this franchise is stealing the rare vehicles just to see what they can do. I can remember just doing donuts in a cement truck or spending hours picking up fares in a taxi. But sometimes, stealing an ambulance is required for a mission or just to blend in and escape from the cops. A great way to escape the cops is to steal an ambulance and just hit the siren; as long as the cops don’t see you or you’re in even bigger trouble. But when the game forces you to steal an ambulance for ill gotten gains, that truly is inappropriate.
10 Cannabis Farm
What would a game set in Southern California be without some reference to mary jane? Deep in the empty hills of San Andreas, lies the "green" farm of The Truth; a character that crossed the spiteful CJ. For this mission, you are asked to simply burn down all the crop that lies on a farm in the middle of nowhere. The good news is that the cops are miles away, giving you plenty of time to burn. The better news is that now you have a flamethrower and this is the perfect excuse to experiment with it. There is something really fulfilling about burning down millions of dollars in pot with such ease; I’d like to see stoned rabbits and squirrels stagger about though. The icing on the cake is that there’s a combine nearby that can also be used as a weapon for anyone wandering around.
9 Two Bit Hit
In movies and television, there are just a few things that you aren’t supposed to do. One of those things is interrupting a funeral to commit murder and that’s just what Tommy Vercetti did in Vice City. After a meeting with an oil tycoon in the back of limo, you are instructed to dress like a Cuban gang member (like anyone believes that) and murder several Haitians. At one point during the mission, you end up stealing a hearse that may or may not contain a corpse; let’s hope not. A chase ensues as bullets are shot into the back of the dead-mobile into what we hope is an empty backseat. We are all supposed to let this roll off our backs because it is for the greater good, but nobody can not admit that this is inappropriate.
8 Grand Theft Auto
Let's be honest, stealing cars is a blast and the main reason you started playing GTA; the story was merely an afterthought. What truly makes Grand Theft Auto an open world sandbox style game is that you can jump in just about vehicle and go anywhere you want: the middle of the ocean in a boat, the mountains in a dirt bike, and even just fly around for awhile. For me, the motorcycles were my favorite to an almost obsessive degree where I’d abandoned my mission-required van to jump a bike over a bridge. Later on in the series, they began implementing driving skills, adding to the precision of your driving which was then followed by races and stunts. Then, we were treated with planes and helicopters with controls so concise that piloting them became more difficult than some of the later missions. There are endless possibilities of what to commit homicide with.
7 Ladies Of The Night
Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, so, of course, it has a place in one of the world’s most successful video game franchises. In the beginning (GTA III), working girls would wander around at night just waiting for a car to stop and give them $100 for their services. But, if you truly are a sadistic individual, it was just a loan and could be repaid with the simple price of murder in the dead of night. Some see this as a bit of a side quest, trying to see how and where you could get busy: bouncing cars, on the sandy beaches, and even in strip clubs for an added fee. This is a greatly far-fetched idea, but it did pave the way for dating in later games. It may have been the norm in centuries passed, but today it’s somehow become inappropriate.
6 By The Book
There is no surprise that in today’s technology-driven world, you really need to push the envelope and get bigger and better before people expect it. Sometimes becoming more cringeworthy is what it takes to be considered the best for your time and that is what Grand Theft Auto does best. In the bustling city of Los Santos, you find yourself torn between morality and success as you control a psychopath by the name of Trevor Philips. Trevor makes his long-awaited intro by attempting to kill and entire family at a farm, then bombing a trailer park so you know it’s only going to get worse. At a later point in the game, Lester is in a dark abandoned warehouse with a tied up goon and several instruments of torture. This mission really lets you fly your sadistic flag, whether it be jumper cables on the nipples or pliers to the teeth; highly inappropriate.
5 Being A Hitman
Killing people for money has always been a favorite pastime the world over, so it naturally has a place within the GTA franchise. It has a place in the series as missions and as side quests, just to make money for buying expensive houses as well as bigger and better guns. It has become such a normal occurrence that on several occasions you’ll find yourself sniping one man, then running to another location to kill another, before finally blowing another building to finish the job. If you customize your character just right, you can even impersonate the infamous Agent 47 from Hitman. The most gratifying part of being a hitman are the trademark first-person crosshairs as you peer through your scope and narrow your eyes at your target; whether you zoom in to their forehead or try to pick them off from afar is up to you.
4 Private Dances
Lap dances are a common occurrence in Grand Theft Auto, but are rarely required during a mission. This is not true for Vice City, when as Tommy you find yourself at a gentlemen’s club in the champagne room, unable to leave until you drop $300 at the pole. The first time in a strip club in any game is always a treat and really immerses you in your environment. It’s a great way to set the tone for the whole game and it tells you that you do indeed have to do bad things, but it’s okay to enjoy them too. Just because you smile when a cgi-generated lady dances for you or you get a headshot kill doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It is rather inappropriate to have to kill people, blow up small businesses, and beat down pedestrians when you’re low on cash, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
3 Rigged To Blow
Liberty City is the city that never takes a nap because it is their version of The Big Apple. You control a bank robber named Claude, who has been shot and betrayed by his girlfriend Catalina. Near the end of the adventure, in the mission entitled “Rigged to Blow,” Claude is given the task of driving an explosive car to its destination before it blows. This mission really tested your driving ability since too much damage would blow up the car for you, well before you reached your destination. The trip is long and arduous as you drive down narrow one-lane streets, rainy intersections, and the expressway. Finally, you can get it removed at a mechanic, but by then your hands are still shaking as you could've killed plenty of innocent people. This mission is rather simple, but quite exciting given the sense of danger and the added appropriateness.
2 Rough Justice
What do you do when someone has ratted you out, but you have no idea who did it? This is your dilemma in Liberty City Stories, your second adventure in the big city, but with a whole new scenario and characters. “Was it the Sindaccos or the Forellis?” asks Salvatore Leone before deciding that both mobs need to suffer. At first, this mission sounds complicated until you discover the real mission; kill everything. The protagonist, Toni, finds himself driving from place to place killing a dozen mobsters at a time. This is the true epitome of Grand Theft Auto and if GTA was in dictionary, there’d be a picture of this mission. When it’s all said and done, you’re basically killing for $2,500 and are much happier for it. This mission may be inappropriate, but it eases stress too.
1 Hot Coffee
"Hot Coffee" is without a doubt the most infamous moment in GTA history. This mini-game was so ahead of this time that it rocked the gaming world, causing lawsuits, new rating rules, and the banning of the original Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas game. They spent lots of money removing the feature from the game and reselling it, but thanks to the internet, you can still see it but possibly never play it. When I picked up my first lady of the night in Vice City and that car started gyrating, I never thought I’d actually get to control the actual act. After several successful dates with one or your many girlfriends, you had the option to engage in coitus by way of foreplay followed by intercourse where you were required to use synchronized button presses to keep your “rhythm,” so she got more and more excited. Though there was no actual nudity and the two participants are only a series of boxes to make people, it was still a bit too risque and inappropriate.