The Diamond Casino Heist is GTA Online’s most exhilarating score and an exercise in self-parody

December 20, 2019
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In one of the opening missions of GTA Online’s latest update, heist aficionado and lovable oaf Lester talks about how he was a good kid before he played Street Crimes Gang Wars, the in-universe version of Grand Theft Auto. As the bassline hums in the background, he starts to ramble about the gun-toting opportunists trying to lift your cargo, a set of arcade cabinets necessary to kickstart a run-down arcade business, a front for the game’s latest (and greatest) heist. “They must be gamers,” he says.

A walking parody of all things but especially itself, minutes later GTA Online treats me to a radio advert for Shark Cards, the game’s infamous microtransaction system that has made it the most profitable entertainment product of all time. Shutting my car door after a successful delivery, I get my usual daily text from Agent 14 about purchasing a million-dollar Mobile Operations Center to help with the efficiency of my Gunrunning business, one of many plates that need spinning if I’m to stay afloat in this demanding second life. I don’t even want the unnecessary vehicle but my brain, falling prey to the marketing machine, wonders whether completing this latest big score will afford me the currency necessary to get him to stop nagging me.

A packed-out patch for a six-year-old live service, The Diamond Casino Heist is designed to turn heads, all the way down to the balance tweaks that players have been begging for. The greatest issue addressed concerns the most hated (and loved) vehicle introduced in Online’s history, the Oppressor Mk 2.

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