I figured that I would get a more in-depth criticism on the narrative part of my concept if I posted it here since the GTA Series subforum focuses more on the concept as a whole. From now on I'll be posting it in both places simultaneously. A story's a story, right?
Three Guys and a Bar
A blinding white light slowly fades into a hazy yellow. As the screen becomes clearer the theme music and credits begins to play and we focus on the scene; the soon-setting sun beads a dark orange cast onto blocks upon blocks of rundown concrete buildings. In the shadow of the nearest lies a rectangular wooden structure, its chimney billowing smoke into the atmosphere. A man walks his dog down a gravel path nearby, but aside from them the place is desolate from the outside.
The camera shifts and we see two vehicles, an Albany Emperor followed by a Déclassé Rancher, speed up the same path. As the first car turns into the wooden place's parking lot, a passenger signals with a hand for the pickup to continue down the road. It speeds forward kicking dirt as the Emperor comes to a stop in front of the building, a sign reading Fierro Inn now clearly falling off its hinges at the entrance. Bennie Bartok steps out of the passenger seat, removes his sunglasses and stuffs them into his red leather jacket. The music fades down but the credits continue as he leans into the window.
"You stay here. Make sure Elliot keeps circling the block and if I ain't back in ten minutes you come in guns-a-blazin'. Got it?"
The driver - a skinny Mexican - nods and hands Bennie a suitcase from under the seat. He grabs it and walks inside.
The perspective shifts inside the bar. All beaten-down wood, it's vacant except for our first protagonist, Julius Kren, sitting at the bar, and a chef in the back kitchen. "Walk Away Renée" by The Four Tops drones quietly from the jukebox. We get an eye on Julius: even sitting, it's clear he towers over 6 feet and wears a denim jacket over a green T-shirt and jeans. As he sips his whiskey he spins in his seat toward Bennie and lets him speak first as the theme quiets;
"Well I guess you're the guy. I thought it was set up as a public deal, what gives? This place's dead."
Julius eyes him carefully. "I don't make the deals, cat, just carry 'em out. That the stuff?"
Bennie nods, smirks: "You hope it is. Where's the dough?"
"I got it, don't worry. Only, I hear that you ain't the most trustworthy cat on the block. You mind lettin' me see the sh*t first?"
A hand to his heart. "Sh*t, that hurts. Not thirty seconds and you're already judging me." He pauses, breaks out into a laugh. "Yeah you can see it, baby. All here."
He places the metal suitcase onto the bar top with a thud and opens the latches. Inside, at least a dozen sealed packages of who-knows-what.
"Alright, you cool." Julius gets up, goes around the bar and grabs his own suitcase: $5,000 cash courtesy of David Arnold. He puts it on the bar alongside the other one and watches Bennie swallow a few Bennies from a foil wrapper.
"You know, I'll take your word for the money," Bennie says. His shaky hands show that he couldn't count it even if he wanted to. "The way things is in the city right now, I'd say there's a good chance of us running into each other again. You can call me Bennie next time."
Julius half-smiles. "Sure. The name's Julius."
They shake hands. Bennie says "Yeah, I know," smiles and walks back out the door he came in.
Julius grabs the remaining suitcase and sees a paper stapled to it— Bennie B. 555-7330. I always got work! — and stuffs it in his pocket. He puts a few bucks down on the bartop and uses the back door out of the place. His Willard Gaia is parked adjacent to a fence — he tosses the suitcase into the back and hops in the front just as Bennie and his crew speed down the path nearby. The camera pulls away and perspective switches to Doug Prydon.
The door chimes as he makes his way into a busy scene. This place is much less desolate than the inn—every seat wrapped around the L-shaped bar is full of chattering men and women. The bartender—Monica—running between half-made cocktails, raises a hand in the air to acknowledge her regular. Doug offers her his best smile as a couple of septuagenarians leave a window booth. Doug takes the vacant spot, removes his old Corps jacket and sighs. We get a view of the street outside—happy couples, men in suits, lone people walking their dogs go up and down the sidewalks as cars ramble down beside them—oblivious. The credits continue out of the way. The perspective switches to behind Monica as she brings Doug his perennial tonic, an Old Fashioned. She puts it down on top of a napkin, smiles and turns away before he can speak a word. As if he would have. As he takes his first sip, the door chimes again as a man in a brown flight jacket and fedora enters and makes his way to Doug's booth. Marcus Vogel removes his hat, sits down and folds his arms.
"So what's so important I had to shlep out here for?"
"I needed to get out of the house, you know." Doug leans forward. "Did you know Sergeant Emlyn lives in Calton Heights?"
Marcus nods. "Yeah."
Doug—not really incredulous, though he would be if he didn't know Marcus better: "And you didn't think that'd be something I'd like to know?"
He speaks carefully. "I knew you'd wanna know, I just didn't think you needed to know. Dig it?"
"No, I don't dig it. Never keep sh*t like that from me again." Doug downs his drink and stands up.
Marcus raises his hands. "Where you going?"
"'Round the block. You coming?"
"I don't think th—"
Marcus nods and slides out of the booth. Doug places a fiver on the table and exits the bar, Marcus shadowing him.
You gain control of Doug. The camera focuses on his blue Vapid Messier parallel parked across the street as the objective appears: Get in the car. As you attempt to cross the street, a familiar convoy of an Emperor followed by a dark Rancher speed down first, nearly mowing you down. Doug flips the bird before getting in his car, Marcus beside him. The driving controls appear in the upper left. Squeeze your way out of the line of parked cars and follow the mini-map route.
Marcus: "You know this car is a piece of sh*t, right?"
"Maybe if you found us some work, you could afford a better one."
"No, really. Time to stop sitting on your ass. Find us some work, I don't care what it is, I'm getting real tired of jacking food stamps."
Doug snickers. "You jack food stamps?"
"Gotta get food somewhere, don't I?"
"I guess you do. But since you're clearly not above stealing, why not just steal the food itself? Cut out the extra work."
"Because, genius, then I can sell any extra stamps for a discount. I make a steady little profit doing that, and we ain't running out of them any time soon. See, if I can make this work for myself then why can't you find us a simple job?"
"Hell, if that's what you consider steady work..."
"I still want a regular job, private. The stamps are good for now but it sure ain't the big time."
"Sorry Marc, but I don't think I'm your ticket to the big time."
Continue up San Fierro's winding roads at whatever pace you desire, being sure to eye the hard-bodied vehicles of the era. When you reach the destination, you'll see Edward Emlyn's place of residence—a white three story townhouse nestled between a dozen identical ones. Anonymous. Expensive. A shiny yellow Coquette sits in the slanted driveway.
The perspective switches to inside the car. The pair stare at the house.
Doug: "F*cking asshole."
Marcus grabs a pack of Redwoods from his breast pocket, puts one in his mouth and hands Doug another. They light up.
"Doug, Joanna keeps telling you—"
"Don't bring her into this."
"I don't wanna, but she's right. You've heard it a thousand times, but the past is the past. We need to get some good jobs, put this bullsh*t behind us. Come on."
"I pass by this place so often. If I f*cking knew..."
Doug shifts into first gear and hits the gas. The camera shoots into a bird's eye view and launches across San Fierro and the desert smack into the middle of Las Venturas. We focus on a big building's tin facade glistening in the sunlight—big blue letters reading La Penisola blinking over a row of a dozen glass doors. We go inside, to the bar. Rows upon rows of slot machines sit empty, only broken apart by green tables for all kinds of card games. At the bar, standing over a floral red carpet, a trio of men—Jon Gravelli, Carlo D'Aversa and Sonny Cangelosi himself—converse with drinks in their hands. Arms wide open, the camera follows behind our final intro: Dante, as he approaches the conversation with his uncleJacky. The uncle offers his hand to Sonny who shakes it firmly.
"Congrats, my friend."
Sonny smiles slightly. "Grazie, Giacomo. It's been a long time coming."
Dante speaks up: "It sure has, Mr. Cangelosi." He spins to Carlo, his rolled-up blazer swaying with him. "Must be a shock, all this responsibility."
Jacky cackles. "Yeah, you're one to talk about handling responsibility."
Dante rolls his eyes and walks toward the drinks. As he goes to pour himself a rye, Sonny hands him his own glass. The clink of ice cubes comes before the sloshing of liquid in both tumblers as Dante finishes pouring. We see this from Jon Gravelli's perspective as he moves forward.
He speaks. "Jacky, the kid up for driving?"
Dante hands Sonny a drink and sips his own. "I am."
Jacky: "He is."
"Good. Me and Mr. Cangelosi need to get to a meet on the West Side soon, you mind chauffeuring us?"
"West Side, huh? We teamin' up with the moolies or something?"
Everyone fidgets slightly. Jacky rolls his eyes and walks away with Carlo.
"No. We're gonna be meeting with a LVPD contact who wants to sit down somewhere neutral."
"How's the West neutral?"
"We don't run it, the cops don't patrol it. It don't matter anyway, you'll be staying in the car."
Downing the drink, Dante shrugs as Gravelli tosses him a pair of keys. You gain control of him, directed to leave the casino and find the car in the parking lot but you are free to explore the building. You'll see the rows of slot machines glisten, never used, and the carpet floor spotless. All is lit by hundreds of yellow-hued lights spread across the ceiling. Further down, near the roulette tables, a group of Gambetti goons carry cardboard boxes inside from a side door—heaving creative insults back and forth alongside the boxes. La Penisola is very new, very expensive, and obviously a do-or-die for the Venturas mafia.
When you make your way outside followed by Sonny and Gravelli, you'll find the black Glendale Royale parked in the lot. Take your time, admire the atmosphere: the strip homes twice the amount of cars than it does pedestrians, who all gather in groups at casino doors. At every angle of your vision is a flashing sign advertising a casino, product or hotel waiting for darkness to fall to fully shine. Alternately, jump straight into the car. Allow the mafiosos to get in the back seat and take off. The radio is set to Chances Are—let the music sink in and enjoy or change the station to something a bit more modern—Rule 102.6 plays Born To Be Wild. Don't like either? Turn the dial to a random frequency—take your chances.
"That station was on for a reason," grumbles Sonny if you change it.
Follow the minimap route down the roads, taking into account their contrast with those of San Fierro—fresh pavement, operating in grids instead of winding disarray. Make your way down the strip, passing by older casinos brimming with eager moneywasters and through a few quiet residential areas as your surroundings become increasingly sh*tty. The men of "honor" in the back seat converse in Italian to Dante's annoyance—he was brought up pure Sicilian, them northern Italian. He picks up a few words here and there but the language difference isn't the biggest nuisance—his forgetfulness of any form of Italian is. He dropped it like a bad habit upon his arrival in America.
"Stop here," orders Gravelli when you reach the destination: a three-story apartment complex breaking apart at the seams. A neon sign reading Su ar Ray's M ni-a rt flickers above the street level entrance. Park up behind the baby blue BF Synergy curbside and let the two men exit.
"Don't move—we ain't gonna be long", mutters Gravelli as he slogs out.
Dante lights a cigarette and opens his window. The West Side is misleadingly quiet during the day—other than a group of three perched on a nearby stoop the street is empty. Cars, still working but badly beat up, line the sidewalks.
Just as he finishes his cigarette and you predict they might become a problem, the three men hanging out close by decide to approach the car. Dante reaches for his gun in the glove compartment before remembering that it's not his car.
He mutters "Sh*t" as Gangster #1 slides his hand up the hood. He hunches in front of the driver's window.
"Nice whip, man."
Dante nods. "Thanks. Mind keepin' your hands off it?" It's not posed as a question.
"Yeah, yeah, of course." The other two hover in front of the vehicle cracking knuckles. Intimidation 101.
"Let me be frank." Dante mirrors their actions. "This ain't my car, it's my boss's. He'll be coming out any minute and I don't think he'll be thrilled to see a bunch of spooks admiring his car so closely."
Good timing: Gravelli, Sonny and a squat man in a cheap suit exit the building together. Gravelli's experienced eye knows what to do; he leaves the building with his suit jacket pulled back, allowing them to revere his holstered pistol. Wordless, the men walk back to their stoop together.
"Assholes," Dante mutters.
Sonny turns to the short guy. "I'm very pleased we could come to an agreement, Mr. Decker."
Mr. Decker chuckles. "So am I. I'll have the right files mailed to your guy."
The mafiosos take turns shaking his hand, patting him on the back and Dante's face contorts. The man hops into his Synergy and speeds off as Gravelli and Sonny return to the back seat. Hit the gas.
Dante: "You ain't gonna ask what was going on back there?"
"Nice car in a sh*t neighborhood, kid. No big surprise," says Gravelli.
"So where are we going?"
"I've got a room at Caligula's."
Drive to Caligula's Palace.
Make your way. Just as you leave the West Side's pothole ridden streets you'll notice an old Veranda shadowing you, as will Gravelli.
"F*ckers don't give up," he says.
Hit the gas, hard this time. The hecklers will follow. Lose them how you please—use the advanced driving directions that pop up in the left corner to use drifting and the handbrake to your advantage. Do as much as you can in a heavy car built for luxury and try not to f*ck it up on the way back.
Dante asks "You think they're gone?" when you kick them off your trail.
Gravelli will respond depending on how quickly you lost them and how much damage you did to the car in the process.
Calm your driving regardless and get out to Caligula's. When you reach its golden doors a valet will come out and fetch the car, eyeing you strangely if it's missing a door. The trio stand under the casino's awning, watching as the sun sets behind The Pink Swan across the street.
"You take after your uncle," praises Sonny as he lights a cigar.
"That a good thing?" Dante asks.
"Look where he is today." Gravelli hands you $25 and a pat on the back. He and Sonny walk into Caligula's lobby together.
Dante looks around, not sure what direction to leave in, before stuffing the money in his pocket and walking aimlessly down the strip. The camera pans up to show the rows of casinos in their entirety.