Missions act as a modern version of levels in video games, and the equivalent of quests in role-playing games. Although missions are required to progress and complete the storyline, they can be completed at the player's leisure.
Most missions are given to the protagonist by contacts such as gang leaders, friends, or basically anyone in need of help in exchange for pay, either directly in person or through mediums such as pager messages, phone calls, texts or emails. A handful of missions are performed independently by the protagonist.
Completion of the storyline is required for 100% completion of the game because they introduce and encapsulate many aspects of the game, including controls, vehicles, locations, weapons, food, clothing etc. Various rewards are given for 100% completion of the game, although this is optional and counts only as a personal statistic.
Story and Side Missions
- Main article: Vehicle Missions
- Main article: Random Characters
In Grand Theft Auto IV, The Lost and Damned, The Ballad of Gay Tony, GTA Chinatown Wars and Grand Theft Auto V, side missions are triggered when the player gets close to a "random" character. Some of these missions can only be triggered at certain times. Some characters have more than one mission, setting up a small sub-plot, whereas others branch off from the main story to help explain the results of certain events. They wait for the player to walk up to them at the sidewalk so they can "talk business".
Passing a mission
When the player successfully completes a mission, a brief jingle will play whilst an on-screen "Mission Passed" message appears, along with the cash reward for the mission. The messages are absent in Grand Theft Auto IV or The Lost and Damned, but return in The Ballad of Gay Tony. A new feature in TBoGT is a Gold-medal checklist, showing the player whether or not they have achieved certain criteria to achieve a Gold medal for the mission. These features also appear in Grand Theft Auto V.
Failing a mission
If the player does not meet an objective which contributes to completion of the mission, the mission will fail and an on-screen "Mission Failed" message will appear, along with the objective that was failed (e.g. Wasted, Busted or a target escaped). The mission immediately ends and the player must return to the starting location of the mission and retry the mission.
The Lost and Damned introduces mission checkpoints, which offers the player the chance to retry a mission from a certain part of the mission without having to restart from the beginning. This option is only available immediately after mission failure. If the player declines the option to retry a mission, they will have to return to the starting location and restart the mission from the beginning.
Failing missions does not usually incur a financial penalty, though some (e.g. Bomb Da Base Act II) will result in the player losing any money spent before/during the mission.
The most common situations that result in mission failure are as follows:
- Killing an important character
- Destroying an important vehicle
- Abandoning another character
- Letting a target escape
- Spooking a target
- Failure to complete a task/mission within a certain time
- Attracting police attention when stealth is required