"I saw a UFO!"
by Andy Kelly, Games Editor, Future Games
No one believes me, but while wandering the countryside in San Andreas I saw a ball of white light hovering over a road. When I got close, it disappeared!
San Andreas is the only game I can think of that developed its own folklore - sasquatch, ghost cars, serial killers - which is testament to Rockstar's superb world-building. Some of my favourite moments in the series were spent exploring the woods and deserts of San Andreas, and when I saw that UFO - and I bloody well did - it was a moment I'll never forget. Sure, it could have been a lighting glitch or something, but I want to believe.
"My beautiful Banshee, ruined"
by Alex Dale, Games Editor, Future Games
I once spent the best part of an hour tricking out my car in one of San Andreas' TransFender body shops. No expense was spared. My banshee looked more like a monster truck when it was finished.
I turned right out of the shop and immediately encountered a police car. Seizing the moment, I drove straight over the top of it, but I toppled over on the way down and had to bail as it caught fire.
I ran to a safe distance and managed to turn around just in time to watch my pride and joy explode in a glory of flames, mere seconds after I'd drove it out of the garage. Then a policeman hit me in the back of the head with a nightstick.
by Chris Scullion, Games Editor, CVG
It's a shame that not many people talk about Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 these days, though it's probably because it was pretty short (since it was an expansion pack for the original game). I loved the fact that since it was set in Britain I recognised the names of some of the locations - Camden, Soho, Westminster, Hyde Park and the like.
The game made some subtle changes to show you were in London. When you got into a car you'd hop over and open the other door instead (since the driver seat was on the right), and all the other cars in the city would drive on the left side of the road.
By far my favourite bit, though, was the mission where you had to rig a football game. One of the Crisp Twins (definitely not based on the Krays) had put a bet on a football match but it was looking likely they would lose, so you had to drive to Southwark Stadium (which I'm assuming was meant to be Millwall's stadium, The Den), drive inside and run over as many players as possible. Ridiculous.
by Dan Dawkins, Games Editor, Future Games
My favourite scripted GTA moments include the moral curveball of the Dwayne or Playboy X decision in GTA IV, The Badlands mission, when you finally leave Los Santos for San Fierro in San Andreas, and the self-reflexive 'Looking for that Special Someone' moment at the end of GTAIV.
For me the greatest moments are those that occur by happy accident, and as much as I enjoyed painstakingly riding a NRG-500 up Mount Chiliad for the mother of all canyon leaps, my favourite accident occurred in GTAIV. I'd accidentally got into a ruck with a street gang who - as I remember - were getting a bit fresh with an elderly NPC, and proceeded to chase me down the street.
Unarmed and unable to defend myself from their sheer weight of numbers, I panicked and commandeered a Faggio (a rubbish 50cc scooter) to make my escape. As I 'sped' down the street, engine buzzing to explosion point, the gang - on-foot, to add insult to injury - were gaining ground. Panicked, I spotted a tiny ramp at the end of the alley, potentially allowing me to leap to safety over the chain fence. I gripped the throttle for dear life, as R Kelly's 'Bump N' Grind' started playing on the radio.
I braced for lift off, as R Kelly crooned "My mind is telling me no, but my body... MY BODY'S... telling me yes"... before I limply plopped of the ramp, landing in a crumpled heap on the wrong side of the fence. Humiliations don't come much better than that.
On your bike
by John Houlihan, Digital Editor, CVG
So many games, so many golden memories. The top down mayhem of the early entries, the awesome move to 3D with GTA III which was an absolutely incredible leap forward, the '80s retro vibe of Vice City, the consistently fantastic soundtracks and the biting satire of the radio stations.
It's a bit random, but one of my abiding memories will always be from GTA: San Andreas, finding a BMX and just tooling around the hood sightseeing for a whole day-night cycle, then finding a delightful back alley skate park to trick around on. Amid all the gangland carnage, it was just a delicious, low-key slice of sandbox gaming.
I heard wonders
by Ben Wilson, Editor, Official PlayStation
For all the hours, days and weeks I've spent in various GTAs dropping cops, mowing down pedestrians and toggling ambulance sirens on and off (this still pleases me in a manner bordering on psychotic), still my lingering memory of the series is cruising through San Andreas' wilderness at night with K-Rose on the stereo. All My Exes Live In Texas, I Love A Rainy Night, Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys - there were occasions where for half an hour I'd do nothing but drive around and just listen. How many other games can you say that about?
I gotta say it was a good day
by Tamoor Hussain, Staff Writer, CVG
For the early days in my relationship with GTA, I had found the games to be good but fairly unremarkable. I enjoyed bits and pieces of each game, and could appreciate the craftsmanship, but it rarely came together for that transcendent experiential way everyone is always going on about.
That was until San Andreas. To quote Lana Del Rey (yes, I'm totally doing this) GTA was always sorta punk rock, and I grew up on hip hop. When San Andreas came out, heavily influenced by gang life in L.A., with characters inspired by legends like Easy E, oozing the west coast hip-hop vibe, it finally clicked.
It was the first Grand Theft Auto where all I wanted to do was soak in the atmosphere. Every session I'd get me a drop top, hit the switch to make the ass drop, and cruise around listening to classic hip-hop. Those were good days.
by Tim Weaver, Managing Editor, Future Games
It's hard to nail down one specific moment in a series so full of standout, often unintentional snatches of brilliance... but I'll always look back on a moment in Vice City when, having commandeered a golf trolley - possibly (the memories are a little hazy here) with a wanted level on my head, and cops in tow - I belted across Leaf Links Golf Club, Cutting Crew's 'I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight' filling the airwaves, and as the song hit its memorable chorus, I lost control and smashed into a brick wall. And died. Utterly ludicrous, completely non-scripted, absolutely perfect.
This is my town
by Iain Wilson, Staff Writer, Future Games
My favourite GTA moment came after months of empire building, side missions and hidden package collecting, when I finally reached 100 per cent completion in Vice City.
I dashed excitedly to my mansion to try on my reward, the newly unlocked 'Frankie' outfit, then saw those fateful words - "I completed Vice City and all I got was this lousy T-shirt!"
Thankfully that cheeky slogan wasn't completely accurate, as I also had double armor and health as well as the ability to recruit three bodyguards from my mansion. After giving them the nod we all piled into the nearest vehicle and went for a riotous joyride around the islands, teaching every rival gang a long overdue lesson in revenge.
Wrong side of the track
by Ben Griffin, Staff Writer, Future Games
A moment that sticks in my mind is invariably related to the in-game radio, which is always, always excellent.
I was on a date and, as it often happens, I accumulated a five-star Wanted rating. Through the pouring rain I spied a heavy roadblock up ahead, and veered onto some train tracks just as Iggy and the Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog flared up. As my date criticised my driving (to be fair, I hadn't checked my mirrors), the chorus hit, and suddenly a pair of blinding headlights filled the screen. It was the train. Who says GTA IV is too serious?