Grand Theft Auto: Baghdad by the Bay

It'd be a crime if the next version of the hard-core computer game didn't feature San Francisco

The latest blockbuster hit in the Grand Theft Auto series for Sony PlayStation 2, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City sends protagonist Tommy Vercetti on a mission to steal cars, deal drugs, shoot down police helicopters, and bribe politicians in a loosely disguised version of Miami, circa 1986. Like its three predecessors, GTA: Vice City is violent, sexy, highly controversial, and enormously popular.

Rumor has it that the creator of Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar Games, has already pinned down a location for the fifth incarnation -- Las Vegas. We urge the programmers to reconsider. If corruption, mayhem, and scandal are the desired parameters, San Francisco would be an ideal setting. In fact, we've taken the liberty of coming up with the plot line and a few theoretical missions. We can see it now, and we won't even demand royalties ...


THE PLOT

Date:April 2000

Location: Just-opened Pac Bell Park

The Mistake:You, Tommy Vercetti, have settled down from the criminal life, leaving behind the violent chaos of your four previous adventures. You've moved into a Sea Cliff mansion, intending to chat with Robin Williams and live the good life.

You're watching a Giants game from your luxury box and enjoying a beer with your loyal and none-too-legalistic lawyer, Ren Goldberg. "So when are we going to get back into business? I can only make so much money off of my Pets.com, Webvan.com, and Kozmo.com stocks," Goldberg says. "I've got a family to support." He massages his nostrils.

"You mean you've got a coke habit to support," you say. "Anyway, I'm done with crime. I'd be fine just kicking back, eating hot dogs, and watching Barry Bonds hit home runs for the rest of my life."

Just then, you hear a voice behind you; a hand grabs your shoulder. "You've washed off the dirt ... but how would you like to get filthy rich?" You turn around and see a dark-suited Asian man, smiling.

"Fang. James Fang," the man says, extending a bony hand. "Mr. Vercetti, it is an honor. Your reputation precedes you."

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Fang," you say. "But I'm not interested in any funny business."

"Oh," Fang says, "there's nothing funny about this business at all. This is the newspaper business, and for a small investment in the Examiner, you can be one of the masters of San Francisco ...."

The Objective:Complete the following missions to earn back the money you lost trying to be a San Francisco media mogul.


MISSION NO. 1 -- PEACENIK POTHOLES

Location: The San Francisco Bike Messenger Association office, South of Market

Lowdown: The smell of marijuana clouds the air as you enter. It is almost completely dark. Across the room, beneath a dangling light bulb, the smoke parts, revealing a female figure in a dirty white shirt and a tattered baseball cap. The figure does not move, but, after a short pause, speaks: "I won't touch this package, and none of the other bike messengers will either. No, for this delivery we need someone more ... ethically challenged." She holds up a manila envelope between her thumb and forefinger, as if it contained anthrax. You take it and read the sticker: Bechtel Corp./Iraq project.

Mission Objective: Steal a bicycle and deliver confidential documents to the Bechtel offices in the Financial District. The Black Bloc will attempt to stop you by hurling steel-toed boots, bricks, and unused deodorant canisters at you.

Degree of Difficulty: 8

Payoff: $2,000,000


MISSION NO. 2 -- DAVE'S DIRTY WORK

Location: The Writing Center, 826 Valencia St.

Lowdown:Dave Eggers calls and asks you to meet him at the Writing Center; it's an emergency. Once there, you make your way past tubs of lard, glass eyeballs, and other pirate supplies, as well as dozens of bored volunteers. He invites you to sit down on a giant Turkish rug, and brushes a few stray curls out of his face. "We have a deluge of tutoring volunteers," the famed writer says. "The problem is that we don't have enough kids who need tutoring on writing skills, leaving the volunteers free to pursue their actual motivation for coming here."

"Which is?"

"To stalk me," Eggers says, smiling semi-ironically. "They ask me to marry them, dig through my trash, write love poems in a semi-ironic style, and even try to date my brother Toph. If this doesn't stop soon, I'm going to have to close down 826, move to Alaska, and write the sequel to You Shall Know Our Velocity."

"No, Dave! Anything but that!" you say.

Mission Objective: Find 500 San Francisco kids who have reading problems, most likely at video gaming centers. Entice them away from their first-person shooter screens with advance copies of Quake IV and bring them to the Writing Center.

Degree of Difficulty: 6

Payoff: $5,000


MISSION NO. 3 -- JEAN MANIPULATION

Location: Castro and Market streets

Lowdown:Wandering through the Castro one day, you're accosted by a man on a sea-foam green Vespa. "Hey mister, nice jeans," he says, whipping out a Listerine PocketPak and popping an oral care strip.

"I'm not that kind of guy, all right?" you say, backing away.

"Chill out, amigo!" he quickly tosses out, adjusting his backpack. "I'm not coming on to you; I just want to know where you got those jeans."

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