by David Christopher Bell
There comes a time in every freelance writer’s career when he wonders if there’s some way he can write off the new Grand Theft Auto as a business expense. Today is my day, for I have not only justified the purchase of this ultra-violent, ultra-fun game but also spent an entire afternoon screwing around on it while being able to technically call it work.
You see, GTA’s map is so akin to LA that I wondered if it would be possible to do the same kind of film nerd sightseeing one might to in the real life city.
The answer is yes, and now I will take you through my experience.
8. The Police Station From Beverly Hills Cop
Naturally my first stop was to see where the Beverly Hills Police keep their scum, which coincidentally is city hall in real life. Located just south of Santa Monica Blvd – in the game it’s location in the luxurious Rockford Hills. See for yourself:
That’s one of many maps you’ll be seeing on this trip, so feel free to follow along.
7. The Church From A Star Is Born
Time for some old Hollywood, and nothing’s more classic than a 1954 musical starring Judy Garland. I lost my bike, grabbed my gas canister and headed for the oldest church in Beverly Hills, The Church of the Good Shepherd.
The spitting image of its real life counterpart, the church was the location for the film’s funeral scene and surprisingly harder to set on fire than one would think.
6. The LA Coliseum From The Last Boy Scout (And Like 50 Other Films)
While there’s like a balls-bunch of other films and shows that were shot here – no better film matches the fuck-it attitude of GTA like the Bruce Willis symphony The Last Boy Scout. This movie is so grizzled that when I put the DVD in, my player developed a drinking problem. Of course – my DVD player is going through a hard time; it just caught my Playstation fucking its wife.
Anyway, in GTA the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum magically becomes the Maze Bank Arena down in South Los Santos. As you can see above, I had a little trouble getting though security.
5. The Hotel From True Lies
Of course we’re going to visit the hotel from True Lies – how could we not? Fictionally located in Downtown Los Santos it’s the Westin Bonaventure Hotel’s distinct digital counterpart you’ll want to look for.
Along with filling in for a Washington DC skyrise (which, by the way, is a laughable concept), this is the hotel Arnie’s horse launches him off. It’s also the location for such blunt action films as Nick of Time, Hard to Kill, and Escape From LA. So this is a biggie for anyone looking to punch fools.
4. Salvation Mountain From Into The Wild
I have a pretty strict blanket rule against anything that features Kristen Stewart and her dull, expressionless existence. I don’t get it – it’s as if she looked at Medusa through shutter shades or something. Anyway, I bring her up because it’s her scene in this film that features the creepy Salvation Mountain – an art installment near Slab City California, and the Senora National Park in GTA.
Lampooned in the new GTA, I find this area of the map extremely useful for shot-gunning car engines without people making too much of a fuss about it.
3. The LA River Where Everything Was Filmed
You better not expect a map of this one; if you can’t find this in Los Santos than you should probably just give it up on playing video games. Quite the perfect facsimile of the real life location where such movies as Terminator 2, Last Action Hero, Point Break, Drive, Gone in 60 Seconds, Chinatown, and The Italian Job were shot – feel free to grab the nearest semi truck and drive to your heart’s content down this concrete slab of nothingness.
Or better yet, if you can find a space shuttle be sure to land it here ala The Core. Also, if you can find a space shuttle in GTA please email me.
2. Nakatomi Plaza From Die Hard
The best part about my daily commute in LA was getting to pass this gem on my ride to work. It’s magical – like seeing Old Faithful erupt for the first time in your life, but every day. Sometimes I would just drive to it and gaze up thinking about how this was the last thing Hans Gruber ever saw. And now it’s in GTA as none other than the Weasel Plaza – a joke you’ll only get when you know that the real life building is the Fox Plaza in Century City.
1. Griffith Observatory, Place Of Robots And James Dean
Once again, if you can’t find the only giant observatory in the game than you just don’t deserve to visit it. You’d be missing out too, because here is where we first saw the Terminator robot stroll his naked ass out from his time bubble to kill punk rock Bill Paxton. It’s also where the Transformers touched down and James Dean had his famous knife fight in Rebel Without A Cause. So clearly if you visit here you have to stab at least one person or it wouldn’t count as a proper visit. That goes double for the game.
And that’s it. As day and my tour began to close with the sun, I watched over the city with quiet reflection. I hope you do the same.
So what other famous movie landmarks are in the game? I know for a fact I left a few off, such as the hotel from Ghostbusters. Can you find it?