Welcome to the first installment of The 3rd Party Memory Card, a reverse engineered clone of Chad's semi-regular feature
, made possible by the heroic efforts of Dennis Nedry and viewers like you. It may be an odd shape and color, and there's a higher risk of failure, but I think (hope) you'll find it an acceptable complement. On the extremely off chance you aren't aware of Chad's wonderful feature (even more of an off chance, seeing as I just linked to it, Mister Reading Comprehension) the idea is to describe moments in video games that are particularly memorable, whether they be endings, cutscenes, levels, character introductions, and so on, and to articulate why and how they are so memorable. As gamers, we are all united by these moments. The special trait of games - interactivity - transforms these milestones from mere common knowledge to shared experiences with ease, much more easily than film or television or literature. Simply put, it's fun to revisit these moments and share them with others, whether they too have had the same experience or are learning of it for the first time.
And I've got some moments of my own to share, so here we go!
Grand Theft Auto III was widely heralded by critics and consumers alike. The go anywhere, do anything gameplay in a full 3D cityscape was almost 100% brand new, the wit and humor a breath of fresh air in a medium that has a surprising dearth of those qualities, and the car radio stations tied the whole package together into a living, breathing world. There had never been anything remotely like this before.
Except there had been. For some reason, people seem not to notice the III in GTA III. If they did, they'd realize there were two previous games in the series. And today's featured moment comes from the second game, suckers.
Respect Is everything, Suckers!
Okay, admittedly GTA III was quite a leap for the Grand Theft Auto franchise (and Rockstar's money bin,) but GTA 2 laid quite a bit of the groundwork that three dimensions and an actual story built upon. The radio stations were present, albeit not quite as polished. You had a large city divided into three sections, though you couldn't freely drive between them. Each section of the city had two unique gangs with their own home turf (as well as the ever present Zaibatsu corporation) for who you carried out missions at your leisure, from assassinations to bombings and everything in between, all for the sake of the almighty dollar. (Even weapons and carjacking were included at this early stage in the franchise! Truly a game ahead of its time.)
In the third and final area of the city, the industrial sector, one of the gangs you work for is the Russian Mafia. And one of the first jobs their contact, Jerkov (hehehe), has for you is the source of the featured moment.
Oh dear God, don't tell me...
You can't be fucking serious. I think I misheard you, sir.
My mistake, I heard you right the first time.
You take the bus full of people to the R.S. & L. Bows Meat Company (still one of my favorite puns in the GTA series), and this is where the glorious moment begins.
With the raw materials delivered, Jerkov exhorts you to watch from the cage as the passengers are led to slaughter. They emerge from the garage, now stripped of clothing, and are marched toward the conveyor belts.
They become terrified and start to bargain with the Russian soldiers. You can hear them cry and plead from your position above the cage.
Some of them make a break for it, perhaps hopeful, perhaps knowing they face almost certain death but wishing to go down fighting and avoid the final indignity of becoming food.
They do not get very far.
Finally, the delivery truck is packed full of soylent-grade non-kosher frankfurters, and you drive it to the local mafia diner, where the Russians are grateful to finally have something besides borscht and vodka filling their bellies, and you are paid handsomely for your services.
Holy shit, did this ever take me by surprise. The game is violent, sure, but this is a level of psychological ickiness that is totally unexpected. Jerkov's commentary before you pilot the bus to its final destination provides incredible buildup to the moment, and you find yourself scarcely believing that what eventually happens is going to happen. The sounds of the human cattle screaming and crying, their nudity, their slow march up the conveyor belts, and the moments when they try to run away add up to something surprisingly powerful. Quite frankly, it's evocative of the Holocaust, and you feel like you've suddenly been thrust into the role of an SS leader. I almost felt sick.
And yet, I laughed. Oh how I giggled nervously and shook my head. This was completely surreal and hilarious. Firstly, the whole scenario: Russian mobsters resorting to cannibalism in a near-future American city, and an independent meat packing company willing to work with them in the whole messy business. Secondly, it plays on the fears and legends about what ingredients really
go into hot dogs. Third, Jerkov's commentary and the last pleas of the doomed bus passengers are pretty damn funny. Fourth, I was incredulous that this stupid video game was kinda sorta making me queasy and a bit horrified at what I had just done, especially in the context of a game where I had already casually run over eleventy bajillion pedestrians.
What those conflicting feelings add up to, my friends, is one of the few mindfucks I've experienced in my gaming life, and thus a video game moment I'm not likely to soon forget. I've played the two GTA games immediately following this one, and for all of their brilliant story I don't remember a single moment that was quite on this level. Two words: fucking cannibalism
You can watch the whole mission in the first video
(which unfortunately features some random techno song the uploader enjoys, and so I have uploaded and embedded a second, extremely shitty quality video
of the key moment with the audio intact.) Also, GTA 2 is available for download from Rockstar's website
if you would like to experience this moment firsthand. Just find and use the cheat codes to skip to the third area, then follow the red arrow and answer the green payphone on the left.
LOOK WHO CAME: