When GTA goes off the rails
If there's one thing Grand Theft Auto is known for it's creativity and variety. Often imitated, never bettered, Rockstar's series redefines the open-world genre every time a fresh game is released. Each location is packed full of stories to tell, toys to play with, and missions to accomplish. Although most are delivered with a wink and a dark sense of humor, some missions are so wonderfully weird that they stick in the memory long after completion. What follows are the best of those missions - the most WTF moments in all GTA experiences, from GTA 3 to GTA 5.
In the Air Tonight (GTA: Vice City Stories)
Random A-list cameo aside, working for Reni is an exercise in WTF from the start. It isn't even the multiple sex-change operations that furl our brows, but the fact we're risking life and limb for an avant-garde director who dabbles in child torture and rhino sex flicks. The icing on Reni's WTF cake is having to defend Phil Collins from deranged hitmen while he croons for a conspicuously empty stadium. Remember, this isn't some C-level voice-alike, either - this is Mr. Su-Su-Sussudio himself, who now maintains the record for most substantial celebrity cameo in a GTA game.
Risk Assessment (GTA 5)
While GTA 5 contains all manner of murder mysteries and alien signals, nothing is quite as WTF as Risk Assessment. Here Franklyn is confronted by a labrador dog, who he strikes up a conversation with. Bizarrely the dog appears to understand what Franklyn is saying, and he quickly works out that the hound wants him to follow. So, he does, leading the pair to a skydiver trapped in a tree. Once he's rescued the poor guy, Franklyn tells the skydiver that he's got a cool dog. The reply is baffling, as is the fact it's never, ever explained: "What dog?" The dog is gone, and we never see or hear about it again.
Black Project (GTA: San Andreas)
Assigned to CJ by The Truth, Black Project tasks players with infiltrating Area 69 (Rockstar's tongue-in-cheek reference to Area 51), in search of a top secret project. What follows is a mission that trades San Andreas' gang-banging tropes for a cheesy sci-fi trip that caters to the conspiracy theorist in all of us. The highlight of our sci-WTF-fi mission (alien references and Half-Life shout-outs notwithstanding) is scoring a shiny new jet pack, which makes traveling San Andreas immediately 500% more fun, and 1000% more open to shenanigans.
Publicity Tour (GTA: Vice City)
Publicity Tour's gameplay isn't altogether zany. What secures this mission a display in our WTF Hall of Fame is the ridiculous premise and hilarious scripting which depicts Love Fist coming to grips with their mortality while chugging drinks and trying to defuse a bomb. Publicity Tour has zero bearing on Tommy's personal journey, but it remains one of our more cherished Vice City stories to date.
Big 'n' Veiny (GTA 3)
Big 'n' Veiny doesn't blow the doors off of GTA 3's mission design by any means. Does mission design even have doors? Hmm... probably not. What it does is steal Claude away from more pressing matters to chase down a Spanked-addled porn thief and collect copies of El Buro's 'Donkey Does Dallas' porn videos as they're tossed into the street. Big 'n' Veiny literally combines sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll (depending on your station) into one WTF package and, in so doing, provides GTA 3 with one its most off-the-rails sequences.
Body Harvest (GTA: San Andreas)
Initially a ho-hum stealth mission, Body Harvest quickly devolves into a combine splatterfest that pits CJ and his farmyard murder machine against an army of outdoor nutjobs. It's a wild romp through mother nature, set to the soundtrack of broken bones and gurgled screams. It's bloody, it's ridiculous, and it's a well-received break from San Andreas' typical buffet of guns, gangs, and street level chaos. Now, does anyone know how to clean fascists out of a thresher drum?
Brawn of the Dead (GTA: Vice City Stories)
We're no fools. We realize those shambling nightmares are supposed to be actors and not actual zombies. And that's the messed up part. Victor is no stranger to killing innocents, but slaughtering an entire cast of starved-for-work thespians? That's just cold. One could argue they're all pretending to be dead, but those screams and pools of blood look pretty damn authentic to us.
Eddie Low encounters (GTA 4)
Think we're over-reacting? Go on, give Eddie a ride. We guarantee after dropping off body parts and listening to Eddie regale Niko with stories about choking children, killing his mom, and romancing corpses, you'll have a hard time resisting the urge to take a sharp left off the Algonquin Bridge. Thankfully, Eddie does get 'dealt' with, but even his short, two-mission appearance is enough for us to not only wonder WTF?, but also who the eff?!
Have a Heart (GTA 4)
Have a Heart is a straightforward mission made WTF by the sudden death of a (seemingly) important character and an objective that sees Niko careening through Liberty City while cracking wise about the bodies in his trunk (which conveniently seems rigged to pop open with every bump). To top it all off, we're pretty sure Jay is only about 75% dead. Just saying. As for Elizabeta's doctor who is awaiting our delivery? He isn't so much interested in giving Manny and Jay an honorable burial, as he is with replenishing his supply of black market organs. And how does Nico eulogize his fallen comrade? He'd been trying to help the streets his whole life. Maybe he'll actually be doing it now. Nice, Nico. Seriously, W.T.F?
Friend Request (GTA 5)
Your task here, as Michael is to infiltrate the offices of GTA's own in-game Facebook, and plant a device. While the structure is fairly ordinary, the whole set-up and execution is pure satire. To start with you need to buy non-matching casual clothes to even be allowed in, and once embedded within the office, you can explore this most odious of hipster tech companies, marvelling at the office noticeboard and listening to the dumb snippets of conversations between employees. It's a pocket of wonderful comic relief in the middle of GTA 5's story, and a reminder that Rockstar's parody-knife is as sharp as ever.
For the Man Who Has Everything (GTA 4: The Ballad of Gay Tony)
We've stolen an assortment of crazy items in our Grand Theft Auto careers, but there's something extra WTF-y about surfing a train and attracting the full ire of Liberty City's police force to yoink a subway car in transit. It isn't like we need the money either; it's all just so some rich dude can use it as an art installation halfway across the world. The Ballad of Gay Tony promised to return GTA 4 to its sillier roots, and this mission delivers.