Want to experience actual grand theft auto? Play GTA: San Andreas!

OK, results may vary on this one. The year is 2004, and I’m late to the PlayStation 2 party (blame: EverQuest). My roommates and I are poor, finishing up our last year at Ohio State, and poor. We live in a cinderblock mansion. Three floors of verticality; the living room and kitchen on ground level, two rooms and a bathroom on the second floor, the same on the third. It’s November, and I have just purchased the hot new hot, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, alongside the PS2. My roommate, Buzz, has the TV; I’m with games; Dirty owns the backpack; and Try Hard, well, she’s the one with the car. Most of these details are important, I swear.

San Andreas is good. I don’t need to tell you that, and even if I did need to, I couldn’t possibly convey its genius right here and now in this article. What I’ll say is that for that bright, beautiful week, Columbus’ clouds and dreariness and coldness and dullness ceased to exist. Mostly because we never left the living room, thus rendering the outside world moot. There was only CJ and his bicycle, Los Santos and its stars.

But, as you tend to learn in college, life can become terrible at a moment’s notice. I’ve named Dirty as I have here not because he’s a crook, but because he’s the single most filthy, slovenly, irresponsible human being I’ve ever met. I lived with the guy for four years (blame: EverQuest), and in that time, I don’t recall him ever throwing anything away. We moved three times, and still he never threw anything away. Walking into his room was to wade into a knee-high midden heap. He never washed his socks; he simply bought new ones when the old became so sodden with sweat and grime that they maintained their shape when he removed them from his feet. I literally found a sock on the floor that was still in the shape of his foot! Just a stiff tube! (Come to think of it, the shape may have been due to a different reason… oh God, I touched it!)

But I digress. Dirty had a way of leaving the front door unlocked whenever he came home, despite being reminded on a near-daily basis not to do so, because, you know, crime-infused college town. But Dirty being Dirty came home late one night after we’d had the game for a week, left the door unlocked, and when Try Hard awoke at around 7 a.m., heard someone rummaging about on the ground floor. She thought it was me–I have no idea why–and went to class, oblivious. Try Hard comes home a few hours later, notices the missing TV, screams–I have no idea why. The rest of us wake up, head downstairs, and scream–at Dirty, for being such a lousy asshole and leaving the door unlocked yet again.

We take stock. My beautiful, new PS2 is gone, of course, as is the Xbox and myriad games. Buzz’s TV has been pinched. The thief rifled through Dirty’s backpack, dumped its contents on the floor, and then, presumably, loaded it up with my stuff. Try Hard, though. Try Hard is smug. “Haha,” she says. “What have I told you boys about playing with your toys in the living room?”

And then, two hours later, “Hey, has anyone seen my car keys?”

Want to play as the famed composer Frederic Chopin? Play Eternal Sonata!

Looking for stuff to play outside of the stuff we already tell you to play on a daily basis? You’re in luck! Every Saturday we’ll recommend an older game for you to check out, complete with a story on how we found the game and why we recommend you play it.

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