I'm a simple man; I grew up playing Rockstar games since they released the ported version of GTA 1 for PS1. My days were filled with gunning down Hare Krishna conventions, doing missions for my boyz and smashing open crates to find weapons. They were good times, the best times., and what six year old can say they loved growing up with the freedom to run and gun, destroying everything in his path?
My parents never loved me like a PS1 did anyway.
I've always been a big fan of Rockstar, and whenever any Grand Theft Auto was released, I lapped it up like a crack addict relapsing in a snowstorm. The glory days of Take-Two and Rockstar filled us with unending joy, from Bully (originally entitled Canis Canem Edit) for the Playstation 2, and eventually Xbox 360 to Manhunt, GTA III, Vice City, and many, many others. It seems that production in Rockstar games has come to a very slow pattern over the last few years and with their recent release of Grand Theft Auto V, I decided to revisit it and give it a play to see where it stands.
Grand Theft Auto V puts you in the role of Michael Townley, or uh...Michael De Santa if you know what's good for you. The story begins with a prologue. North Yankton, Ludendorff. Nine years ago. Michael, Trevor, and Brad are three friends, a crew, who are turning over a cash depot when, shocker, things don't go to plan and Brad and Michael are shot and Trevor escapes into the woods of Canada. This begins the game with is set nine years later. Michael is a rich, lonely, miserable wreck in Witness Protection following the fucked up prologue. He hates his life and what his family has become. His tendency to fly of the handle lands him in trouble when he befriends Franklin Clinton, who he recently discovered stealing his idiotic son's car. His escapades with Franklin earn him the unwanted attention of one of the West Coast's biggest criminal gang-leader, Martin Madrazo, and as a result, Michael must pick up his balaclava and six shooter once more to rob and pillage Los Santos. However, following a successful stint, the once-thought-dead Michael is suddenly noticed by none other than his psychotic ex-best friend: Trevor Phillips.
Why, Mikey? Why?
Michael Townley is the first ever Grand Theft Auto character to actually be a married man and living in a nuclear family. As far as he goes as a man, he seems to share the same characteristics of any psychopath. He is a bitter, angry man who seems to hate rotting away in Los Santos and doesn't quite come alive until there really is a threat or action. He tears down houses, murders people, and in the end, he finds that the very thing pulling the family apart is the same thing that can bring it together. He is a funny character, with great lines, and his chemistry with Trevor is great. However things that sell him short is his consistency to want to kill Trevor, almost achieving this back in Ludendorff and in the final mision: Death wish.
Trevor is the catalyst that sold GTA V like it did. A necrophiliac cannibal with an addiction to meth-amphetamines, his introduction to the audience is in one of the most symbolic ways possible. Trevor is introduced murdering Johnny Klebitz from GTA IV, the second protagonist and playable character in The Lost and Damned DLC. Trevor fucks his girlfriend, turns, smashes Johnny in the face and crushes his head with a few stamps from his boot. One story ends, another begins.
Our final character of the trio, Franklin Clinton turns out to be the most under-developed and ultimately useless one of the group. An ex-gang banger with delusions of "makin' it big, dawg," his aspirations earn him looks of disapproval from his friends and family, and earns him a one way ticket to Betrayal Town with people who can't be trusted. He flows through the game like any throwaway character, spouting bad one-liners and ultimately only becoming semi-useful in the end when you use him to either murder Michael or Trevor.
Grand Theft Auto V: Good ol' fashioned racial stereotypes DLC only $19.95.
Gameplay mechanics in GTA V seemed to have improved greatly. Borrowing a similar platform style to Max Payne 3, shooting is a lot easier, with a simplistic approach to aiming and weapon selection. Looking back at the controls for GTA IV, Rockstar have centered on linear control, allowing more advanced driving and shooting, with a more active cover system. Everything feels a little too polished, with some buyers remarking that GTA IV driving seemed a lot more enjoyable and took skill, while GTA V's car handling has been suited for twelve year old's. Ludicrous! Grand Theft Auto isn't played by twelve year old's...
Rockstar seems to have changed a lot of GTA V's mechanics. Physical control of your car means that flipping it over means you just have to shimmy your joystick a little and it'll flip right back. This seems like a pointless feature, and ruins the idea that reckless driving has consequences. Another issue I seemed to find with the game is of course, the very same things others have found problems with:
"Is he jaywalking? BRING OUT THE DE-VIRGINIZER."
These bastards. I am unsure of whether or not game developers decided to go overkill due to GTA IV's cops being bumbling morons, but the fact that cops in GTA V resemble The Terminator is an annoying feature. Cops are quick to shoot, quick to appear, and if you think physics were thrown out just with cars, you can think again, hombre.
Police in this game will spawn almost anywhere, as well as helicopters coming from complete blank areas, you are fucked pretty much up from a three star wanted level. Cops will ram you, shoot you with precise aiming, and if you think your modified sports car will change anything you are sadly mistaken. Cops are armored, quick, and will corner you like a rat and shoot you from across the map with a potato gun and you'll still wonder how fucking high the game developers were when they were making them as a feature.
Previous stories in GTA involved your main character being a lowlife criminal who raises through the ranks and fights his way to the top. In this one, your character has pretty much done that. The game centers around the trio robbing shit, then paying for it for the rest of the game. The three heroes are constantly and proverbially fucked in the ass over money, teasing big pays for big risks, and then they're bum-rushed and screwed over at every chance they get. Like a large metaphor for capitalism at its finest, the best way to make big money, is to play the stock market, like the suit and tie capitalist pink you are.
Dan Houser's taken a turn for the worst since GTA's release.
The story gives way to a final choice with Franklin. Three endings, which, surprisingly, sell the game shorter. Unlike other amazing, philosophical endings like GTA IV's, V seems to cram in three awful conclusions to a game that wasn't the best or the worst in the franchise.
ENDING A: Kill Michael.
Franklin kills Michael who has his life in order. It's a depressing, bleak, and ultimately anti-climactic end.
ENDING B: Kill Trevor.
You and Michael kill Trevor, setting him ablaze. In the end Michael comes full circle as a slimy scumbag who sells his friends short and kills his best friend.
ENDING C: The happy-dappy walk-away-into-the-sunset ending which leaves all three alive, killing off the competition and living happily ever after. The ending felt so false and rushed that I believe somewhere on the cutting room floor, GTA V has a hidden ending which encapsulates what was really trying to be put across. The trio all escape and stay best chums with their lives ahead of them and no issues from th FiB or the agency or whatever cheap antagonist decides to show up. It was a low end for an otherwise high game.
Being such a big fan of Rockstar, I've loved their games over the years; Red Dead, Max Payne, GTA, Manhunt, and somewhere along the line I felt that GTA V, in all its glory and beauty, was a game that didn't live up to the hype it was given. It was a fun game, with interesting characters, but was sold short in the story and ending which didn't seem up to par with other games in the series. While enjoyable, it is a game which didn't leave an impression on me like others did, and while I have tried my best to be fair, it seems more like a game that was manufactured and polished, rather than a game with heart and soul like IV, or Vice City, or any other Rockstar game.
Don't even get me started on GTA: Online.
Summed it up in one picture, son.
Max Payne, out.