Ten GTA Missions That Are Designed to Make You Throw Your Controller


For years, Grand Theft Auto games have given me and millions of others a way to vent our real-life frustrations in the form of raining down bullets and grenades on the hapless populace of its cities. These games let you have a carefree attitude towards social responsibility, and they let you shut out the things that cause you stress.

That is, unless they are the thing that is causing the stress. A lot of it, actually, depending on the situation.

The fact is that the Grand Theft Auto has constantly pushed the boundaries of what can be expected of video games, especially when GTA III came out. While Rockstar has always done a great job of bringing all of the games’ disparate elements together, they sometimes left in clunky half-measures or inadequate cues to the player to help them navigate the massive worlds.

GTA’s mission structures tend to bring all of these flaws to the forefront. Suddenly, a game that was giving you great joy is now bringing you close to a pulmonary embolism. And no, internet, it is not always just because “omg u suck at it. dat mishun wuz ez.” It’s because even a nearly infallible design juggernaut like Rockstar can make the occasional mistake. Here are the worst ones…



Ambulance Missions – GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas

One of the fascinating things about GTA III was its willingness to entertain you outside of the regular mission structure. You could hop in any work-related vehicle and start a job mission.

All of these missions offered rewards for getting past a certain level, but ambulance missions perhaps had the most coveted prize: a permanent health boost.

Too bad ambulances are the worst vehicles in the game. They accelerate slower than the plot of Lost and handle like a drunken elephant on wheels. This pain point is made worse by the fact that every single bump hurts your patients. Hit enough things and a patient dies, making you have to start back at level 0.

Worst of all, at higher levels you cannot fit all the required patients at once, meaning you have to plan a route with multiple trips in the most efficient way possible. You also had to battle a rather strict time limit while doing so. Many efforts were squandered by a car cutting in front of you or, god forbid, running over a patient.

Geeze, one murder and you suddenly can’t be an EMT anymore. Picky picky.



Payday for Ray/Espresso 2 Go – GTA III

Both of these missions have the same problem: a large spread of targets across the city to reach in an unfair time limit.

While more people complain about the frustration of being shot at during Espresso 2 Go, I was actually more annoyed by answering all the phone calls just to find a dude skulking in a public restroom. Leapfrogging from payphone to payphone within a narrow window was nothing short of obnoxious, and any collision meant you may as well start over. I hope you caught hepatitis from the toilet stall, Ray.



Ruff Rider – GTA IV

GTA IV did an amazing job of crafting a beautiful, realistic engine for the game. Fun? Not so much.

Yes, GTA IV was still miles ahead of other games of its time, but compared to the simple fun of Vice City I wished it had toned down the realism.

Case in point: trying to ride a tail-heavy bike through a series of blind turns while avoiding scripted obstructions.

When you start this mission, the asshole you’re targeting jumps on a bike during a cinema scene without giving you a chance to shoot him first. If you don’t catch up immediately, you’re forced to follow him turn by turn through packed streets and narrow tunnels. Clip any road objects and you’re dead on impact.

The only way to pass this mission is to memorize the path your target takes or just to pray that you can clip him before he gets a good lead on you. Rockstar clearly recognized their mistake by making the driving physics in GTA V more fun and video-gamey than realistic.



Valdez Alert – GTA 2

The top-down GTA games were a whole different animal. Shooting controls were weird, as was driving without a front-facing perspective.

GTA 2’s Valdez Alert mission combined these terrible factors by making you hit a series of precise jumps to enter a building swarming with deadly, respawning gunmen. You had a bevy of your own henchman to help you out, but they didn’t actually do much.

Demolishing the reactors without dying was a feat in itself, and being able to re-enter the building after failing twenty times in a row could induce madness.



Wrong Side of the Tracks – GTA: San Andreas

“Follow that train, CJ!”

You knew this was coming. A lot of smug elitists like to moan that they “passed this mission on the first try.” Well good for you. You beat the odds.

Anyone who struggled with this mission is blameless. It was ill-conceived from the ground up, and it was made worse by jumpy AI. The game wanted you to find a precise angle at a precise distance away from the train, all while waiting for Big Smoke’s fat ass to get a bead on his targets.

Smoke’s shooting mechanics were piss-poor. He would often miss or your targets would be obstructed by the sides of the train. Eventually you could locate the sweet spot, but finding an arbitrary point to satisfy a game’s bullshit draconian requirements isn’t exactly what I’d call “rewarding.”

“All you had to do was follow the damn train!” Well, asshole, maybe you should drive next time.



The Driver – GTA: Vice City

I knew how to drive in Vice City. Quite well. I could zip on a PCJ 600 against oncoming traffic and not get a nick on me.

Now, when the game forces you to pick a clunky vehicle with poor turning and breaking, that’s different. When you’re also facing the only competent driving AI in the game, that makes it even tougher. Add avoiding the cops, hitting checkpoints, and not being able to ram your opponent, and the odds are severely stacked against you.

The game wanting you to race against a chubby ginger man-child driving one of the best cars available was patently unfair. It was the equivalent of entering an eating contest with your teeth pulled out first.

Adding insult to injury, you didn’t even need Hillary to finish the damn bank heist mission. At no point in the game does he actually drive for you, making racing him ultimately pointless. Rockstar may as well have come to your house, kicked you in the balls, and then given you the middle finger.




Before San Andreas, water and GTA protagonists simply didn’t mix. So how about you force someone to ride a boat into a precarious spot in the middle of the bay? Then, why don’t you make them stand on the boat and try and shoot at a fast-moving plane without falling into the deadly water? After that, let’s just make him follow a trail of bullshit pickups through choppy water while gang members blast you with high-powered rifles.

The fact that the best strategy to complete this mission was to completely ignore the instructions means it was a horrific mistake to begin with.



Did Somebody Say Yoga? – GTA V

Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s my controller, but this was the only mission I had to skip so far while playing GTA V.

Rockstar, what the hell makes you think that yoga is more difficult than:

Learning to pilot a submarine

Stealing a cargo helicopter out of a military base

Sneaking out of a federal officer-infested coroner’s office with minimal equipment

Flying upside down under a bridge

I do yoga several times a week. I have never once tweaked my back in a manner that caused me to wince like a bullet hit me. Michael must have peanut brittle for tendons if one slight miscalculation leads him to fall on his stupid face while doing a simple vinyasa flow.

The problem with this minigame lies in its lack of adequate feedback or instruction. It tells you to point the sticks, and I do. Yet, this does not satisfy the game. It won’t tell me why. It won’t tell me what I did wrong, or what to do better. Instead, I have to deal with these sensitive-ass controls without any sort of guidance as to what is expected of me.

“Michael has failed to attain enlightenment,” give me a damn break.


supply lines

Supply Lines – GTA: San Andreas

I didn’t mind the toy helicopter missions in Vice City, because I eventually found a rhythm to the dinky aircraft. Plus, watching fat construction workers spray blood from tiny rotor cuts was priceless.

But all of Zero’s missions in San Andreas sucked. Firstly, David Cross’s voice was infinitely annoying given his character and assigned dialogue. Second, the same problem exists that the game wants you to learn a useless skill not present anywhere else in the game.

Supply Lines forced you to fly a tiny plane and somehow use the crappy machine gun to kill moving targets. Getting caught in a swooping wave pattern was easy, as was trying to bank too hard into a turn and smacking into a building.

Even if you got the hang of flying, you were still required to fulfill the mission with a limited amount of gas. Since it was impossible to tell how long you had, you were forced to do some trial and error and figure out how long it took to finish the mission without losing your plane. Wouldn’t a timer have been easier?

What GTA missions gave you the most trouble? Let us know in the comments!


Jarrod Lipshy is a UGA English Alum and a freelance content writer. He collects old video games, and has killed more virtual pedestrians than can possibly be counted.

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    1. I agree but you had to find a rhythm and not screw up for a long time if you wanted to get past level 12. It was easy to do with the ambulance’s crappy controls. However, it was fun and ironic to feel like you were helping people you’d normally be brutalizing 🙂

  1. I don’t remember the mission name, but there was one in GTA3 (I think) where you were stuck in a parking lot and crazy people with explosives try to kamikaze you. I think that was the main reason I never finished that game.

  2. I definitely remember some of these. Especially the GTA 4 bike chase. I remember trying to be slick and parking a fast car where I knew I was gonna be after the cutscene only to find it moved far away. But for me the hardest GTA mission would have to be in GTA3. I think it was either the 1st or 2nd mission when you are working for the yakuza guys. I think they wanted you to steal a bunch of cars in a set amount of time. I really tried my damndest. Couldn’t do it, couldn’t progress with the game. So since I wasn’t ever able to clear it I guess its the hardest mission for me.

  3. I used to hate the number of cops in San Andreas. They would always be in the way. Especially annoying when they hit you and then chase you as if it was your fault. Thank god for the Lower Wanted Level cheat.

    Also, when you had to have a certain lung power for that blind man’s level, so you had to dive underwater for ages just to get your lung capacity up to the appropriate level. Very annoying.

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