Top 12 Hardest Missions in GTA III

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Grand Theft Auto III was a revolutionary entry in the franchise’s long history, both because of the introduction of Liberty City – a sprawling open-world by the time’s standards – and because it was the first GTA in 3D.

The game is also known by fans to be the hardest in the franchise’s 3D history.

While most missions are considerably tricky when looked at through a modern lens, some take it to the next level. Partly because of challenging design, or partly from unfortunate development decisions. Either way, they’re tough cookies.

Join me as we take a look at some of the most difficult missions to beat in GTA3.


12. A Drop in the Ocean

A Drop in the Ocean GTA III gameplay

Reward: $10,000

A Drop in the Ocean is one of those GTA missions that get unnecessarily complicated the more small mistakes you make.

It’s the final mission protagonist Claude will have to complete in Staunton Island. At media mogul Donald Love’s behest, you’ll be picking up some very special packages dropped by a plane over the canal.

Following the plane or even finding it in the first place can be complicated if you’re not a master of three-dimensional navigation, so a fast boat like the one used by the police is ideal.

Once you’ve recovered every package and return to land, you’ll need to get a car and drive away fast to lose the heat and wanted level before returning to Love. This can be a damn hard if you don’t get the right car.


11. Escort Service

Escort Service GTA III screenshot

Reward: $40,000

Much like our previous entry, Escort Service is also given to player character Claude by the influential media tycoon, Donald Love.

As if the name wasn’t enough of a clue, this is an escort mission – the most annoying and feared activity by most open-world game fans. After all, anything can go wrong, and the people being protected often seem uninterested in survival.

In this case, you’ll be protecting an Old Oriental Gentleman who’s riding a safe but slow Securicar.

On your way to Pike Creek, you’ll have to fend off continuous attacks by the Colombian Cartel and their Cartel Cruisers. The Securicar can take a beating, but if you’re not fast and alert, you’ll find out it has its limits – several times.


10. Import/Export – Dodo

Import/Export – Dodo GTA III gameplay

Reward: $1,000

Import/Export isn’t exactly a mission. But a series of little side-activities where Claude will have to “procure” specific vehicles and take them to garages in the Portland Docks and Pike Creek (Shoreside Vale).

One of them (and possibly the hardest altogether) is the Dodo, requested by the Portland Docks garage.

You’ll have to pick it up from the Francis International Airport in Shoreside Vale – and by “pick it up,” I mean going in guns blazing, getting on the Dodo, and flying it back to the garage.

The challenge in this side-mission comes from the fact that the Dodo had its wings sawed off to the mid-point by the police, meaning it’s nigh-impossible to fly properly.

If you think of it more as a glider than a plane, you may have an easier time.


9. Payday for Ray

Payday for Ray GTA III mission screenshot

Reward: $11,000

Payday for Ray isn’t hard because of the enemies you’ll face or the valiant feats you’ll need to accomplish, but because of the game’s lack of a full-sized map.

The mission, given to you by Yakuza co-leader Asuka Kasen, is to deliver a dirty cop’s bribe.

Regrettably, things are never as easy as they sound.

To finally meet-up with Ray Machowski, you’ll first have to go around answering payphones all around Staunton Island – which is a real feat when you don’t have a map.

You have two options here.

You either learn the mission by heart or familiarize yourself with every nook and cranny of Staunton Island beforehand.


8. Bomb da Base: Act II

Bomb da Base: Act II GTA III gameplay

Reward: $150,000

Successfully aiming a Sniper Rifle isn’t exactly easy in GTA3. So when you pair that with an escort mission, you have a recipe for suffering.

Bomb da Base: Act II is one of the most universally hard missions in the game, as no amount of preparation or practice will prepare you for the trials ahead.

After getting explosives expert 8-Ball $100,000 so he can prepare some real big boomsticks, you’ll have to protect him from afar as he plants them all along a cargo container ship docked in Portland Harbor.

The thing is, the place is crawling with Colombian Cartel members – and you’ll need to do them in quickly if 8-Ball has any chance of survival.

Considering the remarkable speed at which 8-Ball can get himself killed, you’ll have to memorize thug locations by trial and error until you can do this with your eyes closed.


7. S.A.M.

S.A.M. GTA III screenshot

Reward: $45,000

S.A.M. stands for “Surface-to-Air Missile”. And it does a great job describing your role in this mission from Yakuza leader Asuka Kasen.

To retrieve some SPANK packages that’ll arrive shortly to the Francis International Airport, you’ll have to get a Rocket Launcher and head to the runway on Shoreside Vale by boat.

Once there, you’ll have to carefully aim and shoot your rocket so that it hits the Dodo as it lands on the platform. Which is exceptionally hard if you try to do it from the sides, as self-preservation would dictate.

The easy way to do this is to stand in the center of the runway and shoot at the Dodo head-on as it approaches you.

Trust me; it won’t kill you. Probably.


6. Grand Theft Aero

Grand Theft Aero mission screenshot

Reward: $50,000

Grand Theft Aero comes right after A Drop in the Ocean.

The packages you picked up on that mission were just decoys – and the real ones are still waiting at the Francis International Airport.

Get there, and you’ll notice that the port’s authorities have all been murdered by the Colombian Cartel. So you’ll have to shoot your way through to reach the Dodo containing the package.

Regrettably, the plane is empty. So you’ll have to track down the Cartel to the Panlantic construction site located in Shoreside Vale where – you guessed it – you’ll have to kill many more Cartel members.

You’ll no doubt be successful at retrieving the package at some point.

But the Colombian Cartel is packing some heavy firepower, and it might take you several retries.


5. Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come GTA III gameplay

Reward: $10,000

Your objective in Kingdom Come is simple: go to a parking lot in Bedford Point, find an Esperanto, and drive it back to King Courtney. Easy right?

Well, it could have been, were the enemies in this mission regular Cartel members.

Instead, you’ll have to fend off waves of Catalina’s SPANK-enhanced suicidal bomber goons who’ll “blow themselves to Kingdom Come” if it means damaging you.

They’ll keep on coming unless you destroy all of their vans, so focus on that rather than the individual bombers. Destroying them all will complete the mission.


4. Mike Lips Last Lunch

Mike Lips Last Lunch GTA III mission

Reward: $10,000

The Forelli brothers owe mechanic Joey Leone a substantial amount of cash. And it’s up to mute criminal Claude to teach them to honor their debts – the hard way.

You’ll first have to steal Mike “Lips” Forelli’s Idaho from Saint Mark’s Bistro in Portland.

You’ll then drive it to 8-Ball’s shop in Harwood to get it rigged with explosives and finally move it back to its original location.

That would be easy, were it not for the fact that any little scratch on the car could mean failure. After all, we can’t have Mike noticing something’s off.

Oh, and there’s also a time limit. A very constraining time limit. Need I go on?


3. Rigged to Blow

Rigged to Blow GTA III gameplay

Reward: $20,000

The most memorable mission given to the player by Red Jack leader D-Ice has to be Rigged to Blow.

As the name might suggest, this mission also involves a booby-trapped car – except this time you’re trying to get rid of the bomb instead of installing it.

Much like our last entry, this mission is made hard by the time limit. And the fact that D-Ice won’t tolerate a single scratch on his car.

Luckily you’re driving to a garage in Portland to get the explosives defused, so you’ll only have to worry about scratching the Infernus on your way back.


2. Exchange

Exchange GTA III mission screenshot

Reward: $500,000

It’s only fair for the final mission in the game to be hard, right?

It’ll require $500,000 to start, which is in itself a tall order.

Not only that, but you’ll start the mission with no weapons, surrounded by a mob of Colombian Cartel members you’ll have to kill to survive.

That is followed by the most intense vehicular chase sequence in the entire game. And to top it off, you’ll have to fight the Cartel again while Catalina fires rockets at you from an attack helicopter.

It’s hard as nails.

But once you finally hit Catalina’s helicopter with your Rocket Launcher, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings you’ll get from GTA3.


1. Espresso-2-Go!

Espresso-2-Go! GTA III screenshot

Reward: $40,000

And funny enough, Exchange isn’t the most demanding mission in the game.

That title goes to Espresso-2-Go, one of Asuka Kasen’s tasks.

This mission follows Claude as he drives all around the city, destroying coffee stands that act as a front for the Colombian Cartel to sell SPANK.

As we know, finding anything in GTA3 without a map is already challenging. When you scatter nine coffee stands throughout Liberty City, it’s like finding nine needles in an enormous haystack.

The mission is made doubly difficult by the addition of a constrictive time limit. You’ll have to learn all of the locations by heart if you’re to destroy the stands and actually finish this thing.

Sure, practice makes perfect. But I could have learned a new language or how to play an instrument in the time it took me to do this tedious mission.

If you’re really stuck on this one, I say just use a tutorial and blast through it.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.