The balaclava, also known as a ski mask, is a recurring headgear in the Grand Theft Auto series often used to conceal a person's identity in various robberies. Wearable balaclavas have appeared in varying forms in at least three games, appearing as an individual clothing item in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV, and as part of an entire outfit in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.
GTA San Andreas
The balaclava is first featured in "Home Invasion" when the player character wears the headgear throughout the duration when he burglarizes a home and returns the loot to a garage. After the mission, the player will be able to don the headgear again whenever they activate the Burglar side mission unlocked after completing "Home Invasion", and will continue to wear it until the side-mission ends. The balaclava in the game is otherwise unavailable in the player's wardrobe.
Despite being a full-faced headgear, the balaclava does not remove any Shades (eyewear) or Hats the player character is wearing. The balaclava also flattens any hairstyle the player has, and, unlike other headgear, cannot be removed when selecting hairstyles at a barbershop, making it difficult to visually identify picked hairstyles.
GTA Vice City Stories
In GTA IV, the balaclava is once again an individual clothing item, first featured during "Three Leaf Clover" to mask the appearances of both the player and the rest of the bank heist team during a bank heist and the subsequent escape from the law enforcement. After completion of the mission, the balaclava is made available in the player's wardrobe. Although the balaclava added to the wardrobe is implied to be that worn during "Three Leaf Clover", the balaclava in the mission is portrayed as being grey while the balaclava from the wardrobe is black.
The balaclava in GTA IV also possesses several unusual quirks:
- The mask is categorized as a hat. However, unlike other headgear in the game, the balaclava will not become invisible when the player enters a car or when a motorcycle helmet is worn.
- Unlike other hats, browsing into the balaclava will remove any eyewear the player is wearing; however, the player can add an eyewear over the balaclava again after wearing the latter.
- The balaclava will be removed from the player character after they die and respawn (the balaclava can still be worn again at the wardrobe).
- If the player sustains constant injury from gunfire while donning the balaclava, the balaclava will turn white. This is possibly a glitch.
Unlike the hospital scrubs and the Albanian biker jacket, the balaclava has no influence in gameplay besides comments from girlfriends and friends. Like other clothing in the game, however, changing into the balaclava will not clear the player's wanted level in any way.