It’s late on a Friday night. August 6th 2010 to be precise. A shining blue sports car, the Sultan RS, sweeps through the dusky streets of Liberty City. Accelerating uncontrollably from a dimly lit alleyway, the customised monster tears out onto the open road. As the speed increases to an almost blurring level, the encroaching appeal of an oncoming bend proves irresistible. The brakes ease on and the car remains parallel for what feels like an age, as it drifts in undeniable style around the now defeated corner. It is poetry in motion. The mighty machine then pulls over next to the evergreen central park for a rare moment of rest bite.
I take a second or so to run my eyes across the overt ridges of the rip-roaring monster before once again realising that I love Grand Theft Auto 4. So then, it stands to reason that this is a title I have fully mastered. This was tragically not the case and so on that day; I vowed to set that right, by attaining the almighty ‘Wanted’ trophy.
‘Wanted’ seems like a relatively simple trophy. The description being: ‘You achieved the highest personal rank possible in multiplayer.’ But for this shiny gold landmark, you’ll need the patience of a Saint with a set of itchy trigger fingers to add to that. Before embarking on this task in the big apple, I decided to do the math.
Those pesky, albeit extremely talented, folks down at Rockstar Games, demand that to attain the trophy, you must first amass a personal online fortune of $5,000,000. Yes, you read it right, five million bucks. At first this seems daunting, but upon further evaluation the realisation is that the task at hand is far greater than daunting. It’s probably closer to a crushing reality, a reality that for most, this trophy is a commitment too great. But for the few who are determined, who are dogged and unyielding, a place amongst fellow madmen awaits.
There are several multiplayer game types that Grand Theft Auto IV offers, with the common appetisers of Deathmatch and Race being there for those who wish to indulge. But for those with aspirations regarding the lofty heights of rank 10, there can only be one game-type: Hangman’s NOOSE. Yielding around $4500 upon completion, the crown can be achieved after completing the game type a mere 1150 times. That’s all. Once enough skill and precision had been amassed from shear repetition, this game-type can be ran through in under 3-minutes. With this in mind, I projected that the gold was mine within 2 weeks of play.
Day 1: Ecstatic to start the task at hand, I was revelling in the opportunity to sink my teeth into my favourite game. Stocked up on energy drinks and snacks, these sugary delights will simply fuel my ambition to win…I thought. My first game loads up and I’m in.
Hitting the ground running, me and two other criminals fight off an oncoming S.W.A.T team (known as N.O.O.S.E. within the game) to help protect the cowering civilian and aid his escape. Meanwhile, another gunman in on the job rushes to the other end of the locked-down airport, to steal a helicopter and aid the escape. The first few enemies drop like flies, as we easily deal with the early waves of their best efforts. But as the police presence escalates, the ammunition starts to run dry and the panic escalates. The luggage seems a frail source of cover as the seconds whip by and the wall of spraying bullets soon feels like a cage being erected around us, encasing and restricting our every movement. Resorting in our desperation to nothing but suppressive fire, it’s a fight we’re beginning to realise isn’t there to be won.
As tempers begin to run higher and higher, voices raise via the crackling microphones and questions race through my mind as to the weaknesses of this makeshift team. Just as the questions are raised and the air becomes irrepressibly thick with metallic death, a helicopter circles into descent from above. Our teammate is here. Bailing the civilian into the cockpit, I wait whilst the rest of the team hop aboard. They begin to spray covering fire in every direction enabling me to join them, raining down lead upon the now deflated lawmen, our success now inevitable. We glide with relative ease to the drop-point, making the most of our air-superiority. Success, complete, congratulations all around. Only 1149 times to go.
As the early hours of the morning drag on, this daylong shift is drawn to a close upon my decision that enough progress has been made today.
Day 2: I awake to the ideal of similar progress today. If I can make equal ground then the task will be complete by the end of the week. The energy drinks continue to slide smoothly down the pallet to help keep me perceptive and meal breaks have now been replaced with simply slapping together sandwiches whilst the game is loading.
Although a few hundred games of Hangman’s N.O.O.S.E. may have lifted the initial appeal from the game type, I’m not losing sight of the task at hand and remain thoroughly committed.
The game loads and I play, this repetition seemingly endless. Team turn up, kill team, wait for arrival of teammate, and leave immediately. The Hollywood drama of the initial play through has been thoroughly washed away, like a veneer crumbling to reveal a hideously decayed tooth.
As the early hours of the morning yet again draw in, my Dad walks into the kitchen to make himself a drink. Peering through the small window to the conservatory he notices me, my eyes transfixed, my concentration unbreakable, I cannot be deterred. After acknowledging my presence he simply wanders back upstairs to his slumber. After that game I decide to do the same and retire.
Day 3: Progress has inevitably slowed and as each rank increases in size, my motivation takes another resounding hit. I awake and start playing in one seamless motion.
The ever-flowing presence of energy drink has morphed from a tactical aid to a physical necessity, each one stripping the surface of my oesophagus as it drops into my now punished stomach. It is all that is keeping me going after only a few hours of sleep and seemingly endless concentration.
Hours pass by in what seems like minutes and as people drift about the house all seeing to their agendas, I barely recognise they’re even present. Mum and Dad watch on anxiously as Oliver descends from man to zombie.
All of them retire one by one and I’m left alone. The inexhaustible forces of the N.O.O.S.E topple and regrow and through sheer exhaustion I’m forced to retire.
Day 4: In a state of absolute isolated thought, I barely even register waking up and walking downstairs. I awake in accordance with the console.
Physically and mentally depleted I am told that I look ill. Nearly there though.
“No PlayStation tomorrow Oli, ok mate?” says my increasingly worried Mum. I accept without even considering what she has proposed.
The hours rot beneath this ruinous task and I’m yet again left alone in the early hours of the morning. Time to retire with one final push remaining.
Day 5: The final day. Upon awaking I sneak my console into my room on account of being told not to play today.
I tear through N.O.O.S.E.’s finest with a newfound resurgence, in the knowledge that I am on the home straight. Reflexes now razor-sharp, the enemy stands no chance. Playing solidly until 3:00PM I am within touching distance. Game 1150.
Ripping the enemy apart, I await for the aid of transportation. The once impenetrable fortress of enemy bullets now a porous wall, easily cracked with well-timed bursts of fire. The chopper arrives and all bundle in desperately. We take to the skies with my spirits higher than they’d ever been on this route. Upon landing, congratulations are passed all around and as my last pay check floods in, I hear the ping and see the symbol: ‘Wanted’.
I had done it. After 5 days of solid play, I had cut my estimated time of completion in half by giving every waking moment of the day. But most importantly, I had truly mastered my favourite game. Opening the blinds I bask in my digital achievement.
The light seared in but the gold still glistened. Victory was mine.
Playstation obsessive and Red Bull fiend. Will play anything and everything. Max Payne champion, adequate FIFA player and hopeless driver. Currently studying Journalism at The University of Salford in the hopes of achieving game-reporting glory. A man can dream.