GTA 5 is the first game to make me feel like a mature gamer. Not because GTA 5 has any sort of maturity to it but actually because of the maturity that it lacks. See I have been in love the with GTA series every since GTA 3 made “Sandbox” games what they are today. They completely revolutionized the gaming industry and have led to countless hours of enjoyment from yours truly. But something is missing from GTA 5 for me, well maybe not missing, but there is something that is keeping me from making it a game I would recommend or say is extremely well done.
I got GTA 5 day one, and I have been tremendously enjoying it…but something has been sticking out to me about the game. I have kind of been turned off by the main story. See if you were to ask me about the story in GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas of GTA IV I would probably not be able to remember any part of it. This occurred to me when someone was asking me the other week “What makes the GTA games so popular?” Even though I spent countless hours in Vice City and San Andreas, it was the freedom that the game gave and the times that I created, not the developers, that made the games memorable. It was the hours spent with people in my dorm driving around doing “nothing”. It was the time spent with my buddies while gambling in San Andreas or driving on the back of a scooter just to listen to radio stations in Vice City that made those game truly memorable. See I was ready to give GTA5 a perfect 10/10 on Launch day because of the hype and because of the fun doing “nothing” I knew I was going to have. And I have had fun, I have done “nothing” and I have progressed through the story. But the sense of humor Rockstar has is starting to wear thin, for me at least.
Trevor is the beginning of the end of my love for Rockstar. He is despicable and I don’t find him funny in any way. Tommy Vercetti and Carl Johnson weren’t the sweetest of guys either but they had something special to their characters. Or at least I mean, they weren’t complete misogynist, terrorist, assholes. I know, I know, why am I complaining about this when the game is called GRAND THEFT AUTO?? It’s a game based around the idea of crime, and its not like this game does anything drastically different than GTA’s of yesteryear either. The other games have senseless violence, murder and sexism as well. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a rant about how GTA is going to destroy the youth of today, or I think that Rockstar should be shamed for making a game celebrating such themes of torture or mistreatment of women, because I assuredly am NOT. I am just saying that me, myself and I are growing tired of games in this vein.
Maybe it is because I am growing up, or maybe it because video games are growing up and I have played some truly mesmerizing games that are striking such an amazing chord with me personally that games like GTA are beginning to look truly immature and shallow. Games like Thomas was Alone, Limbo, The Castle Doctrine, Little Inferno, Kentucky Route Zero and even The Last of Us are really striking the right tonal chords. They are fun, sometimes kid-like in approach but ultimately can say so many more meaningful things about life, or the human culture in 10 minutes than GTA 5 can in its entirety.
Most people who consider themselves video gamers and read that last paragraph probably have heard of most of the games I just mentioned but some of you maybe have not. I definitely mentioned these specific games purposefully and with reason. I will explain a few of them in the next couple sentences. I know, I know The Last of Us was a big budget relase, and widely praised but I think that goes to show that blockbusters dont have to be shallow (which is oftem the case). It was extremely popular, very well crafted and claiming it was a great game is easy. But honestly, that game had some amazing character development and even though the ideas of outbreaks and apocalypses are extremely overused right now, it succeeded. It was beautiful in its approach and very tasteful in its dealing with death and society. Thomas was Alone, now this is a game that is all about storytelling. The game features colored blocks as its characters and ultimately is a simple platformer. But by the end of that game I was so invested in these charac--uh...I mean, colored blocks that the ending almost brought tears to my eyes. The Castle Doctrine is a game about robbing and killing, just like GTA. The main difference is its approach to that killing that makes it stand out. If you follow Jason Rohrer, the creator of the game, you will know what I am talking about. If not, you should. He is a truly original game developer that has an amazing way of tackling ideas of human culture and crafting them into an interactive format.
It's funny to complain about a game because of what it presents in its story segments but also be in love with the freedom that it creates. When I am free-roaming GTA 5 I love it. It’s pure dumb fun and I like that. But when the story approaches and I am forced to be a part of the immaturity and (no longer funny) comedy I am disappointed. This game has truly marked a divide in me as a video gamer. I am split, right down the middle and interested to see where I will end up. So often I will be disappointed in a game because the controls are wonky, or the game-play will not be polished but I don’t know if I have ever truly been disappointed with a game because of its maturity level. I guess ultimately I am saying all this because I hold GTA in high regard. It is a truly inspirational gaming franchise and will be forever held high in regards to the inspiration it has laid in history. But I am beginning to lose my hope for GTA and this may be the last iteration I purchase. Rockstar, as game developers, is extremely talented and I truly love the games they make. Bully was one of my favorite PS2 games and Red Dead Rev will easily be in my top 10 for a long time. They create great game worlds that truly draw in the gamer and I give them alot of respect. I still will be playing my copy of GTA 5, especially the online, so I can create those fun, free roaming memories with my close friends. But as my age continues to grow so do my expectations and hopes for video games to create interactive stages for me to learn from. Games can also be there for the sole meaning of being a distraction but more and more I am seeing games combine the two that when one is missing I am growing ever more stern on my judgement.