|For the mission in GTA Advance, see The Big Score.|
The player steals a total of $201,600,000 for the Obvious, or $201,300,000 for the Subtle.
In order to perform the heist, the protagonists must perform a couple of side-missions (Heist Setups) to get the necessary equipment. The preparation missions varies based on the chosen approach in Planning the Big Score.
Four preparation missions:
- The first one, Stingers, involves stealing a van equipped with spike strips.
- The last three, Gauntlet, require the player to steal three Gauntlets around Los Santos and modify them at Los Santos Customs.
Three preparation missions:
- The first one, Driller involves stealing a Cutter from a warehouse.
- The second one, Sidetracked, involves stealing a train using a Skylift.
- The last one, Getaway Vehicle, involves parking a vehicle in a parking lot near the Union Depository.
Get in the car after the cutscenes. Drive to the tunnel before 8:00 am. The time is shown on the lower right corner of the screen. After getting to the tunnel, wait for two Stockades to enter the tunnel. Drop a Spike Strip or Stinger before the vans leave, then drive away and wait for them to hit the spikes.
The vans tires have deflated and stopped. Get out of the car and start aiming at the windows of the vans. The occupants will be forced to get out of their vans as hostages. Another van will appear, and requested to change the tires. They will be forced to ride in the vans in order to support them. Drive to the Union Depository building's underground garage, and they will park the Securicars in reverse. A cutscene will show the manager requesting an authorization ID. It was successful, now follow the manager to an elevator going down to the carts containing gold. Trevor and a Gruppe 6 officer will push the carts back to the Securicars.
Get in the second van and follow Trevor as he gets out of the Depository. However, when Michael calls Franklin, it turns out that Merryweather Security had witnessed them stealing the gold. The player is switched to Franklin, who is using a laptop to control the traffic lights of the city to help Michael and Trevor escape from the Merryweather troops. Control the traffic lights using the assigned buttons and stop Merryweather from spotting them by turning the lights to red. The mission will fail if the Merryweather vans catch them. Depending on the hacker skill, there either won't be lag on the changes or there will be a second or so of lag. Change them less than 10 times to get closer to a gold medal.
Now they have parked the Securicars. They will open the doors to transfer the packs of gold to four modified Gauntlets. The crew also decides on what to do with Casey, and ultimately decides to give him a gold bar, making the take $300,000 less, but it ensures he doesn't speak. However, the Merryweather troops show up. This engages a large shootout. The protagonists will have to protect the crew while they transfer the gold from the Securicars to the Gauntlets, depending of the experience of the first gunman and the first driver, they may let some of the gold bars drop while loading the cars, making the crew lose almost $18 million of the total score. Keep focused on cover and try switching characters in order for a better shootout. Choose the best weapons, because there are many of them. Keep in mind that the security outfits that Michael and Trevor have on from the beginning will have a full body armor bar, making it somewhat easier. Be careful if switching to Franklin, for he'll have no armor unless the player bought some for him ahead of time and haven't done anything to damage it.
Once the Merryweather soldiers have been killed, the player is again switched to Franklin, who will be driving one of the Gauntlets. The player must now follow the rest of the crew. Focus on the route and ignore the LSPD. The mission will fail if Franklin falls too far behind and loses the others. After driving onto Rockford Plaza, the scene will slow down, showing a tanker truck in the verge of explosion after a Vapid Interceptor rolls over and crashes the tank (at this very point if a bad driver is chosen for the fourth Gauntlet, he ends up crashing his Gauntlet thus pulled out by the police and ending up incarcerated plus losing a quarter of the gold, however Franklin can save him by killing the police officers who blocked the driver's path and the driver will continue by himself to the airfield.) After going to the freeway, a LSPD Maverick shows up. Ignore it and focus on the road. Drive to two trailers waiting for the four Gauntlets. Depending on the driver for Franklin's trailer, it could swerve side to side, making it harder to get in if their skill is poor but Franklin's special ability can help with this. The mission fails if the player doesn't get in before the end of the tunnel. The LSPD failed to arrest them thanks to the two trailers.
The three will enter a Cavalcade. Drive to Michael's House. Mission complete. Regardless of the outcome all three enter a massive argument that supposedly leaves them on bitter terms despite the victory.
Drive the Oracle to the Union Depository with the gunman assigned. The player then takes control of Franklin, who is outside the underground vault in an HVY Cutter. Michael and the other gunman will come at the front door and distract the cops. Use the drills by pressing a button to create a huge opening on the bank vault. When the hole is created, park the Cutter an ample distance away. Plant explosive charges (such as Sticky Bombs) on the two vault doors, then stand back and detonate them. A NOOSE team arrives and starts abseiling into the tunnel. Defend the gunman assigned against the NOOSE team by shooting at them while the gunman pushes the gold carts. Focus on the officers, and use a good gun like an Advanced Rifle with extended ammo to eliminate the enemies faster. A minigun may be helpful as well due to its rapid-fire damage and no need for reloading. After the gunman pushes the second cart into position, the player is switched to Trevor. Fly north of Los Santos to Blaine County, the gunman with Franklin will find his own way out, and the game will prompt the player to switch to Michael. Michael is in a heavy shootout against the cops. Focus on health and ammo, as there are too many officers to fight, and may take 10 minutes of gunfighting. Keep on killing them, as Franklin will become available again when Michael arrives at the foot bridge. While advancing, a Buzzard will appear. Destroy it quickly with the RPG or minigun, as it will use the rockets to kill your team. After destroying it, advance to the underground parking lot where the getaway vehicle was stashed while fending off the police. (Note: the player does not have to kill every police officer they see; listen to audio cues from Franklin or Michael (depending on who the player is not controlling at the time) to know when the player is able to move on.)
In the parking lot, an FIB team will appear, in their Grangers. Destroy the vehicles quickly with an RPG, grenades or sticky bombs (be careful not to hit the getaway vehicle). After killing them, get in the car and lose the police. If the player followed Lester's advice and modified the vehicle, it should take quite a bit of punishment. A 5-star wanted level may take about 1-2 minutes of cooling down, so hiding underground in places such as the sewers or subways would probably work best.
After the Wanted Level is cleared, the scene switches to Trevor, who is piloting his helicopter. Follow the pilot assigned. However, the Merryweather Security appears in helicopters, and Lester must destroy the helicopters. Keep the helicopter steady for Lester to get a clean shot, but be careful not to let both gold carts under the helicopters detach, or have Trevor wasted, or else the mission will fail and be careful going through the wind farm. The other gold helicopter will speed up considerably so the player will need to do this while maintaining speed and altitude. Destroy the choppers too late, and the pilot of the other one will crash and lose half of the take (an inexperienced pilot will crash regardless). After destroying the helicopters, locate the train on the radar and detach the gold cart in the train car. Finally, fly to McKenzie Field Hangar to complete the mission.
If an inexperienced pilot crashes, the mission can still be completed, the mission only fails if Trevor is wasted or if his own gold cart is also dropped by accident or if he crashes, making them lose everything. However, if the final gold tally is important, consider intentionally crashing Trevor's helicopter, failing the mission, and then restarting at the last checkpoint. Keep in mind that, as noted above, there are some crew members who will always crash, so the player may need to reload a save prior to "Planning the Big Score" and choose an alternate pilot.
After the gold has been dropped off, both Trevor and Lester will fly to the McKenzie Field Hangar to meet with the rest of the crew for a debrief. Lester is in good spirits for the entire ride and has obviously never been so thrilled his entire life. For the debrief everyone else is in good spirits as well contrary to the meeting in the Subtle Method. Michael then proceeds to break the mood and soon after tells the crew to avoid spend large amounts of cash until the gold is sold with Trevor restating in a more aggressive matter. The cutscene ends with Michael, Trevor and Lester flying away to the new location of the gold; Franklin departing in his new getaway vehicle and the hired crew members flying away in the second helicopter.
However, should the pilot crew member die, and half the gold is lost, a different ending cutscene will play instead. While Michael, Franklin and the gunman are initially jovial at the success of their heist, they become sullen upon being notified by Trevor of the death of their second pilot and the loss of half the stolen gold. The crew becomes disappointed and angry with their loss. The cutscene then ends with Michael, Trevor and Lester flying away to the gold's new location, while Franklin and the gunman drive away in the new getaway vehicle.
After the Heist
Regardless of which option is chosen, or the outcome (loot-wise), after the mission, a mission trigger point is placed over Franklin's home. Once there, Franklin is visited by Devin Weston, who orders him to kill Michael. Franklin refuses, telling him Steve Haines has already ordered him to kill Trevor and that he cannot kill both. Devin reiterates his order to kill Michael and leaves. The player, as Franklin, then has the option to choose which option they want, beginning one of the final missions: Something Sensible, The Time's Come or The Third Way.
Before going to the last mission trigger, it is advisable to complete any remaining side-missions, etc. that may be required for 100% completion first as, depending on the player's choice, Michael or Trevor may no longer be available beyond this point, thereby rendering any activities/side missions specific to them inaccessible (even though their missions are not required for 100% completion). If Michael or Trevor possess any rare vehicle the player doesn't wish to lose, cars should also be exchanged before starting the final mission.
- Enter in the car. - (Michael)
- Go to the tunnel entrance before 8am. - (Michael)
- Release the spike strip in the tunnel before the Securicars get out. - (Michael)
- Wait for the Securicars. - (Michael)
- Go to the Union Depository. - (Michael)
- Follow the manager. - (Michael)
- Enter the Securicar. - (Michael)
- Follow Trevor. - (Michael)
- Keep the streets clean for the Securicars. - (Franklin)
- Kill all the Merryweather soldiers. - (Michael, Trevor and Franklin)
- Follow the rest of the crew. - (Franklin)
- Go to Michael's House. - (Franklin)
- Get in the car. - (Michael)
- Go to the bank. - (Michael)
- Pierce the vault wall with the driller. - (Franklin)
- Park the driller near the wall. - (Franklin)
- Plant the bombs on the vault doors and detonate. - (Franklin)
- Protect the crew member from the NOOSE agents. - (Franklin)
- Fly out of the city. - (Trevor)
- Escape with the crew member. - (Michael and Franklin)
- Enter in the getaway vehicle. - (Michael or Franklin)
- Lose the cops. - (Michael or Franklin)
- Follow the driver. - (Trevor)
- Keep the helicopter steady so Lester can destroy the Buzzards. - (Trevor)
- Release the gold in the train. - (Trevor)
- Land in the airfield. - (Trevor)
Gold Medal Objectives
- Headshots - Kill 20 enemies with a headshot
- Signal Man - Perform less than 10 traffic light changes
- Accuracy - Finish with a shooting accuracy of at least 60%
- Headshots - Kill 20 enemies with a headshot
- Time - Complete within 16:00
- Cha-Ching - Drop the gold onto the train within 30 seconds
- Accuracy - Finish with a shooting accuracy of at least 60%
Weazel News (Radio)
"Up to four tons of gold have disappeared from the supposedly unrobbable Union Depository earlier in a dramatic raid. Having hacked into the computer system to clear an unusually large shipment of gold for transfer, the criminals hijacked an armored car and convinced the bank workers to give them the precious metal willingly. The criminals were engaged by both security forces and a Merryweather security team, but escaped. The scale of the the robbery led to a spike in gold prices."
"The supposedly unrobbable Union Depository was robbed not once, but twice; with as much as four tons of gold believed to have been stolen. Two gunmen walked into the main bank demanding gold, drawing teams of police into a standoff. Meanwhile, another group of robbers drilled through the vault wall. By the time the security teams had been diverted from the standoff, the criminals had airlifted the gold out of the city. The scale of the robbery led to a spike in the price of gold."
Weazel News Newspaper
"Thieves withdrew around two hundred million dollars' worth of gold bullion from the Union Depository earlier, making the price of gold skyrocket. Employees at the bank willingly handed over the gold to the criminals thinking they were an armored car crew. The gold was then transported to Mission Row were it was loaded into four cars. Events are unclear at this point, but it appears that a security team from Merryweather discovered the heist crew before any crime was reported. They engaged them in a fire fight, but were unable to stop them escaping past Legion Square and into the city. The police were finally called, but it was too late to stop the criminals from getting away."
"Thieves withdrew around two hundred million dollars' worth of gold bullion from the Union Depository earlier, making the price of gold skyrocket. The crew staged a robbery in the bank lobby, drawing security teams into a standoff, while their accomplices drilled into the vault and airlifted out around four tons of gold. The crew were then forced to fight their way out through Downtown Los Santos, eventually escaping a comprehensive city-wide manhunt. Connections have been made between the heist at the Union Depository and recent crimes at a Rockford Hills jewel store and a savings bank in Paleto Bay, but there are still no suspects in any of the investigations."
- Lester Crest - "You can retire for real this time, old friend."
- @felixwarlock - "Not the Union Depository! Just when I put all my money in gold! I'm so screwed!"
- @ralphyscalpy - "How is it even possible to rob the Union Depository? Is there anything left in Los Santos that can't be broken into????"
- In the Subtle approach, no matter who is chosen as the first gunman, they will always look like Norm Richards. This glitch is not present in the enhanced version.
- In the Obvious approach, after switching to Trevor, when Lester uses an RPG to destroy the three Buzzards, a glitch will occur into witch these three Buzzards will not appear and when the crew reaches the train, the mission will fail, as if they had appeared. This glitch unfortunately incapacitates the player from achieving a gold medal, since it causes the player to replay from a checkpoint. It also has been fixed the enhanced version. (Tested on Xbox 360)
- Sometimes, when replaying this mission, the game will freeze after the cutscene when deciding which approach the player chooses therefore making this mission unplayable.
- During the heist setup for the obvious approach, if the player attempts to complete the "Sidetracked" mission with Franklin and dies after switching to Trevor, Michael will be the one on the radio with Trevor instead of Franklin if the player restarts from the checkpoint. (Tested on PS4)
- Regardless of what approach the player chooses, Gruppe 6 uniforms will be unlocked for Michael and Trevor after the main story is completed, even though the Heist team never obtained the uniforms if the Obvious approach is chosen.
- During the drive at the start of the job, even if Chef is selected for the team, Trevor will express doubts on the entire team's capabilities (even though he recommended Chef as an option in the previous job).
- The news, along with Michael, mentions that the gold is unloaded in Mission Row. The area where this happens, under a highway behind the Vanilla Unicorn strip club, is actually located in the Strawberry district.
- The Oracle Michael drives in the Obvious approach has the registration 81TDS937, which is the same registration of the Oracle owned by Dave Norton.
- The takes from the two approaches differ by $300,000, owing to the fact one brick of gold is given to Casey (the Gruppe 6 man) to ensure his silence. However, players should also consider that the Subtle approach requires additional money to be spent upgrading the Gauntlets needed for the getaway, and also requires to hire more gunmen and drivers, thereby further reducing the profit for each of the characters.
- A good way to avoid spending the money to upgrade is have Franklin take them to the Los Santos Customs garage he owns, so the upgrades and mods can be free.
- The subtle approach contains several references to The Italian Job, both the 1969 original and the 2003 remake. As part of the mission, you have to manipulate traffic lights to prevent Merryweather Security reaching Michael and the armored convoy; in the films, traffic lights are manipulated to slow down the team's pursuers. Later the team is involved in a speed chase in three Gauntlets, which ends with the team loading the cars into the back of two trucks; this is similar to both films, which feature car chases involving Mini Coopers that end with the cars being driven into coaches.
- Similarly, the Obvious approach is a reference to the 1995 film Die Hard With a Vengeance, in which Simon Gruber, the main antagonist, robs gold bullion from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York by drilling into the vault room (with a vehicle very much like the Cutter) from a subway station.
- The shootout with the cops in the streets surrounding the Union Depository in the Obvious approach may also be inspired by the shootout in the 1995 film Heat, which features a similar running shootout with police following a bank robbery and a character named Michael. Heat has been referenced numerous times in recent GTA games.
- The longitude and latitude shown on the traffic light screen does not correspond with the supposed geographical location of Los Santos: Lat N 962.78, Lon W 1.55 pinpoints Cotanda Y Caparrós in Llíria, Valencia, Spain.
- The post-mission cutscene features Michael and Trevor in their default outfits from the beginning of the game; Michael in his grey suit, and Trevor in his white shirt and sweatpants.
- This mission could be a reference to the 1983 movie The Big Score, as there is also a police chase, a big take of money and a character named Frank.
- The trio manage to steal exactly 672 gold bricks, since when Casey is paid off (Subtle), $300,000 is deducted from the take, indicating that each brick is worth $300,000. 201,600,000 divided by 300,000 is 672.
- When the protagonists are driving to Michael's House at the end of the Subtle approach, the radio will always tune in to Los Santos Rock Radio and it will always play "Hollywood Nights" by Bob Seger.
- When Franklin drives away in the red Tailgater at the end of the Obvious approach, the radio will always tune in to Radio Los Santos.
- During the Obvious approach, if the player heads to the subway construction site to escape from the police, the hole in the vault wall of the bank will be closed up again and the Cutter will be gone.
- The final segment of the Obvious approach where Lester destroys Merryweather Buzzards with an RPG is similar to the mission Paper Trail, where Little Jacob uses an RPG to kill Eduard Borodin by destroying his Maverick.
- During the car chase in the Subtle approach, the LSPD will perform drive-by shootings, which they do not perform in regular gameplay.
- In the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game, while taking the elevator down to the vault in the Subtle approach, Michael vaguely whispers "let's go". In the enhanced versions, the line has been re-recorded and he says it louder and more clearly.
- If Sticky Bombs are planted on the vehicles Michael and co took to the tunnel, they can be detonated to destroy the vehicles after the cutscene, though the crew members in these vehicles would not be listed as killed.