In his latest gaming nostalgia column, Ollie Barnes looks back on his favourite gaming series.

QUESTION time again: Do you have a form of media, one you would say is a personal favourite, that you’ve never consumed fully?

For example, a movie series that you have never watched in one go, or a book you’ve never actually finished, or even a band whose music you say you love but you’ve only heard a couple songs?

The reason I ask, is because this applies to me and, unsurprisingly, it's about a series of video games.

Since I’m talking about a series and not one specific year, I’ll gloss over the ‘picture the scene’ bit, but just get a clear picture of the 00s in your head.


The series in question is Grand Theft Auto - one that I have long classed as an all-time favourite, specifically 2004’s entry, San Andreas.

Up until around March of this year, I had never completed the story of any of these games (apart from GTA V which I’m not counting here). During lockdown though, I set out to finally play them all from start to finish, just so I can say that I have actually played them.

To be clear, I didn’t play the whole series, I played: GTA Vice City, San Andreas and GTA IV, as in my eyes, these are the top three.

“So, if you didn’t play them, why were they still your favourites?”

Well because I did play them, I just didn’t play the formal ‘levels’.

For context, these games are all open world, so you’re able to explore the vast recreations of Miami, LA, or New York City (depending on the game) as you wish.

It is also worth pointing out that the stories of these games would likely go right over the head of a small child such as I was.

Vice City is set in 80's Miami and is based around the drug-fuelled gang wars; San Andreas is based in 90’s LA and majorly touches on police corruption and the riots of 1992; and GTA IV focuses on Niko (a Serbian immigrant and the main character) coming to New York for a better life, but finding out the US isn’t the promised land after all.

So instead of blitzing past all that and not understanding any of it, I would prefer to take it in turns with my brothers to see who could do the gnarliest tricks and survive the longest while being chased by the police - it was just mindless fun.

I’ve always respected these games as a places to go to mess around and do whatever you want for a few hours, but since playing the stories, I find myself with a new admiration for something that I have loved for years.

If the point isn’t clear enough yet, here it is again: go back and revisit the things that made you happy when you were young.