One of the most appealing elements of the Grand Theft Auto series has always been the sandbox style of gameplay, subsequently imitated by everything from Saint’s Row and Assassin’s Creed to Rockstar’s own Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire, giving players free reign to progress through the story at their own pace and explore to their hearts content, discovering an array of side missions and other distractions in the process.
Plenty of these distractions aren’t enjoyable in the slightest – collecting hidden packages and their variants, going on virtual dates, quarry work and annoying RC vehicle sections, to name a few, but ignoring these, there are plenty of things that, throughout the series, have supplemented the respective storylines of the games in a thoroughly entertaining manner.
Some of these things are closely tied to said storylines, such as Hitman-esque assassination contract missions, the buying and running of properties and businesses, or heist missions involving the planning and carrying out of high scale robberies (a concept that would make a fine game in its own right). Such things are not included on this list, which merely lists fifteen of the most enjoyable non-story related activities that players have been able to engage in throughout the series.
Though I, like everybody else, eventually grew sick of Roman Bellic calling me every ten minutes in GTA4 to demand that I take him bowling, the fact that such games, including pool, darts and golf, have been available throughout the series shows the commitment that Rockstar put into their games, providing an array of extras that have no bearing on the game other than to act as an occasional time waster.
The controls for some may be fiddly, but the chance to wind down from a difficult storyline mission with a virtual sporting activity is tough to pass up, and with a tennis mini-game all but confirmed for GTA5, it’s something that seems set to be available once more.
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This article was first posted on November 22, 2012