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GTA Missions that are practically impossible

Grand Theft Auto was one of the first franchises to capitalize on sandbox-style gaming. Many fans' earliest memories of the series aren't of a particular narrative beat, but of the first time things descended into chaos unprompted. Missions that might otherwise seem straightforward can become unhinged at a moment's notice, and not because developer Rockstar Studios planned it that way. Accidentally nudging the wrong pedestrian or firing a stray bullet too far to the left can lead to a frenzied police chase, even if the mission was to smash up some coffee stands.

Grand Theft Auto has its fair share of wild missions. Some of them stand out more than others, though, especially when it comes to their difficulty. While a few missions were explicitly designed to be as hard as they are, many accidentally ended up that way due to some frustrating restraints. There's some fascinating game history buried within the hardest GTA missions, and for that reason, we've compiled a deep dive on the Grand Theft Auto missions that are practically impossible to complete.

The Big Score Obvious Approach - GTA 5

Grand Theft Auto 5 featured the most elaborately-planned missions the series had ever seen, thanks to its inclusion of heists — sprawling, decision-laden endeavors that often featured multiple approaches and endings. Heists required players to build their team of would-be thieves and execute a plan they devised. Obviously, that many decision trees inevitably led to some difficulties in execution, and heists quickly became the "final boss" missions of Grand Theft Auto 5.

"The Big Score" is the last of the Heist missions available in Grand Theft Auto 5 and is the penultimate mission in the game's narrative. It features the same complexity that made the other heists memorable, but it does boil down to two different approaches: subtle or obvious. Subtlety is about attempting to get in and out without causing a ruckus. Obvious is, well, pretty obvious — go in guns blazing and leave victorious by any means necessary.

"The Big Score" Obvious Approach is one of the hardest missions in Grand Theft Auto 5. Players will face a huge amount of security and police resistance, alongside more complicated driving patterns and shootouts. Familiarity with the mission helps a lot, so it isn't impossible, but it sure feels that way the first several times players attempt it, and it only gets marginally easier from there.

Bury the Hatchet - GTA 5

"Bury the Hatchet" is one of the most important narrative moments in all of Grand Theft Auto 5. It's the mission that sees Trevor discover the truth about the demise of his and Michael's mutual accomplice Brad, a revelation that implicates Michael as a traitor. It's heartbreaking to watch, even for someone as inherently awful as Trevor, and it sets the stage for the major missions that follow it as things escalate exponentially.

"Bury the Hatchet" is noteworthy beyond just its storyline implications, though. It's also one of the toughest missions in the game from Michael's standpoint, as he must fend off scores of Wei Cheng's goons in a graveyard to escape in his vehicle. There are very few places for cover beyond tombstones, the vehicle is a large distance away, and the goons have very good aim. It's a mission that prioritizes patience and, up until this point in the game, that hasn't been a particularly useful quality for players. As such, it can take a few tries to get the pacing of the gunfire down, which makes it vexing.

Even when Michael does make it to his car after (we presume) multiple attempts and frustrated comments about AI aim, he finds it has been immobilized by Trevor. After all that work, players are rewarded with being captured by Triad gang members anyways. Talk about disappointing.

Did Somebody Say Yoga? - GTA 5

"Did Somebody Say Yoga?" is a fun mission in retrospect. Players have to engage in yoga as Michael, which results in the temporary dissolution of his marriage and a drug-fueled bender across Los Santos. Hallucinations of chimps, aliens, and a multi-colored, spiraling fall to Earth are just some of the highlights of how the mission progresses over time.

To get there, though, players need to complete that yoga thing first. What should be one of the easiest steps in any Grand Theft Auto 5 mission quickly turns sour once players are asked to execute a few different poses. The game's directional stick and button-based input seems simple, but it's pretty obtuse. It can be unclear what the game wants out of the player, and the tenth time Michael falls over during a pose and is asked to start again is certainly enough to warrant an extended break from Grand Theft Auto 5.

"Did Somebody Say Yoga?" has to be in the running for the most simplistic yet frustrating missions in franchise history. It's an absolute nightmare. Heists might be the end bosses of the game, but trying to get Michael's out-of-shape body into something resembling the Warrior Pose is the secret boss of Grand Theft Auto 5 that nobody wanted.

Wrong Side of the Tracks - GTA: San Andreas

"Wrong Side of the Tracks" is legendary. Few missions are so universally reviled within the Grand Theft Auto franchise. The interesting thing about it is that "Wrong Side of the Tracks" isn't even that far into the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas storyline. It's not meant to be the culmination of a long narrative thread or an epic rivalry — just another throb of the game's pulse.

The mission tasks CJ with driving a motorcycle next to a train that several gangsters are attempting to escape on. Big Smoke, riding on the back of the motorcycle, is in charge of offing the gang members once CJ gets close enough to the train. Sounds simple, right?

Unfortunately, the path following the train is littered with annoying obstacles, meaning it can be difficult to maintain the right speed without losing the train. Also, Big Smoke does not like to fire his gun, and this mission requires Big Smoke to fire his gun a lot. You can probably see where the issue arises. The mission is notoriously finicky and can feel as though it is out of the player's hands. To make matters worse, Big Smoke rubs it in whenever the mission is failed by barking, "All we had to do was follow the damn train, CJ!"

If you still wake up in a cold sweat, Big Smoke's admonition haunting your mind, rest assured: you're not alone.

Robbing Uncle Sam - GTA: San Andreas

Some missions feel like they should never have made it out of the Rockstar writers' room. In a game that features over-the-top crime drama at nearly every turn, there's certainly room for variation, some palette cleansers before yet another hail of bullets comes looking for the protagonist. Grand Theft Auto typically does those pretty well, too, mixing humor and mundanity to maximum effect.

"Robbing Uncle Sam" is not one of those well-executed breaks in drama. For some reason, GTA: San Andreas felt it would be appropriate to have players drive a forklift for the bulk of a mission. In a game where the protagonist is an up-and-coming gangster who needs to constantly prove himself as a savvy criminal, "Robbing Uncle Sam" tasks players with what amounts to a warehouse labor simulation.

Oh, and the forklift is remarkably difficult to control for a vehicle that reaches a top speed of about ten miles an hour. The sticky controls mean players have to spend even longer with this mission, which is nearly impossible to finish because the siren call of a nap grows stronger with every second that passes.

Exchange - GTA 3

In keeping with a recurring theme throughout the franchise, Grand Theft Auto 3's final mission, "Exchange," is also one of its most difficult. It's the culmination of the game's many different plot twists, and sees antagonist Catalina finally meet her end after an extremely lengthy chase filled with faceless goons to dispatch along the way.

"Exchange" is also tied up in some interesting restraints, though. The mission requires $500,000 to start, and while that's not an absurd amount of money in GTA 3, it's enough that without prior knowledge of the requirement, it is easy to get caught off guard. Raising funds in-game can also be grindy, which likely turned off a few players from ever engaging in the mission.

Past that, though, "Exchange" is also a complicated vehicular chase through cartel members that spawn infinitely onto the map. They hound the player's every move and, without careful driving and incredible precision, they can easily end a promising chase randomly. It's an infuriating mission that requires a decent amount of luck (or health codes) to get through, and those elements should never factor into the completion of a final GTA main mission from a design standpoint.

Espresso 2 Go - GTA 3

"Espresso 2 Go" feels like it was created to be another break from the usual run-and-gun-style gameplay that GTA titles so prominently lean on. If that's the case, it's another huge miss, as the only sense of relief that the mission produces is the one that the player feels upon finally completing it after dozens of failed mission screens.

"Espresso 2 Go" feels simple in its design, as it merely requires protagonist Claude to destroy nine different coffee stands being run by the Cartel. They're scattered across the city, and players just need to dispatch them however they see fit once they locate them.

The catch? GTA 3 doesn't have an in-game map, and the mission is on a timer. It is an absolute nightmare trying to locate the various coffee stands, and players need to familiarize themselves with the map screen to even have a chance. Mods were eventually developed on the PC version of the game to deal with this oversight, but without them, the mission feels genuinely impossible.

After countless repetitions, it becomes easier to locate the stands, but by that time, many players will have simply begun sandbox rampages through Liberty City instead. Even then, the timer on the mission is unforgiving, and even a few wrong turns on a carefully laid out roadmap will spell the end for a player just trying to progress back to the more fun elements of GTA 3.

Keep Your Friends Close… - GTA: Vice City

"Keep Your Friends Close…" is yet another Grand Theft Auto final mission that manages to hit all the right notes. After being betrayed by accomplice Lance Vance, Tommy Vercetti must track him down, kill him, and then end the reign of his rival mob boss Sonny in the same sequence. There's drama, intrigue, and a whole lot of explosions.

The action of "Keep Your Friends Close…" is an homage to Scarface (despite the title coming from The Godfather: Part II), so the mission is pretty stacked against the player. Tommy needs to defeat an entire rival mob storming their mansion while also simultaneously fighting off the betrayal of Lance, tracking him down and murdering him. As if that weren't enough, the game immediately prompts players to hunt down Sonny as well, leading to another extended sequence of gunfights, vehicular spectacles, and more.

"Keep Your Friends Close…" is hard because it asks so much of the player without any real checkpoints or breaks. It's another mission that players will likely die during for a few different runs before getting the hang of it, and even then, it's one of the most taxing mission structures Grand Theft Auto has ever offered.

The Triathlons - GTA 5

Difficult or not, Grand Theft Auto side missions are rarely that complicated, and the triathlons in GTA 5 follow suit. At face value, it's just another thing to do in a world filled to the brim, and a nice momentary distraction from whatever horrible plan Trevor has cooked up during the main narrative. In short, the triathlons are meant to be relaxing completionist content.

To complete them, you just need to tap the X/A button a lot, navigate the player character during certain sections of the race, and just kind of hope you win after that. For the first two triathlons, that's not an issue, as they're relatively short jaunts that don't really overstay their welcome.

The problem is that the final triathlon is legitimately 30 minutes long, and you have to spend the entirety of it wailing on the button of your choice and swapping into first-person mode to try and get an edge on directional input. It's a test of endurance that is effectively a literal mental triathlon, and it can be an incredibly draining experience even if you win.

If you're unlucky enough to lose, however, there aren't checkpoints. It's thirty minutes of your life taken away again or just giving up and going home. We'd rather hit up a Burger Shot and accept the future heart problems ourselves.

Supply Lines - GTA: San Andreas

"Supply Lines" is arguably the most poorly designed Grand Theft Auto mission to appear in any of the series' many iterations. It is, without a doubt, one of the most frustrating experiences anyone will have with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It is notorious for having been described as impossible by David Cross, the man who voiced Zero, the character who hands it out in-game. Even someone directly involved with its presence wants nothing to do with it.

The mission sees players take control of an RC plane to destroy several couriers, which are guarded by armed thugs. The RC plane is fragile. If it is spotted by a thug, just a few bullets are enough to dispatch it and restart the mission.

That isn't even the worst part of "Supply Lines," though. A combination of a suffocating time limit, terrible controls, and a fuel supply that would drop regardless of what input a player was giving to the RC plane made the mission nearly impossible to complete. There were just too many factors working against the player to make it enjoyable or worth attempting.

The mission was so bad that Rockstar eventually edited it in future releases — twice. Now it is at least playable in its current form, but in the original release of GTA: San Andreas, "Supply Lines" was basically impossible.

Sexy Time - GTA 4: The Ballad of Gay Tony

Grand Theft Auto 4: The Ballad of Gay Tony already featured one of the series' more questionable interpretations of an attack helicopter. Flying in this game (and GTA 4, for what it's worth) never feels right, and nothing encompasses that quite like the Buzzard helicopter, which jerks around the sky with alarmingly little input from the player. That, complemented by a fragility that doesn't suit an attack helicopter, made the Buzzard a fairly unexciting addition to the game.

"Sexy Time" forces players to get familiar with the Buzzard, though, and fast. The mission requires players to blow up the yacht of Frickie Van Hardenburg while using the Buzzard, and it's the fact that the mission necessitates using the helicopter that makes it so impossible.

Blowing up the yacht requires getting very close to it with the helicopter. The Buzzard's fussy controls make that very hard, and could often result in a player driving it into the water rather than completing the mission. The Buzzard also doesn't have an aiming system — the controls sent players' gunfire everywhere.

Getting close to the yacht and managing to hit it with the Buzzard's anemic weapons systems is way harder than it should be, and makes a fun little mission into one that is practically impossible without an intervention from a minor deity.

Demolition Man - GTA: Vice City

There's a recurring theme in these missions — they're all among the most frustrating in the series, sure, but the RC sub-missions that seem to crop up in every GTA is also a trope that needs to be abolished. Players rarely praise the RC missions. In fact, it seems like having one that is simply playable without making anyone break a controller is the incredibly low bar Rockstar has currently set for itself regarding them. Even then, it's not a bar that's cleared particularly often.

"Demolition Man" sees players combine the always abysmal controls of an RC vehicle with what amounts to a stealth mission, needing to navigate the mission area while avoiding the notice of the construction workers who are present. It's another break from the typical action players find in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but it's not a welcome one.

What could be a fun mission if the RC helicopter handled even remotely like a vehicle quickly deteriorates in practice. Beyond just the controls, the NPCs wandering the area are remarkably vigilant and can spot the RC with ease. Executing the mission plan is also needlessly difficult; players might as well be hucking bricks with bombs strapped to them through the site's windows and hoping for the best.

Please, Rockstar. No more RC missions. We're begging you.