I hate Grand Theft Auto.
Ok, I don’t really hate it. But now that I have your attention, let’s talk reality. Recently I was on Twitter expressing how I feel GTA5 has received far more praise and hype than it should have. And predictably, people weren’t happy. I get it, there’s no way it could be less than perfect right? You can smoke weed with your homies! Yeah, whatever. At this point its pretty much the Beyonce of video games. Its fans ignore its very obvious flaws, and they also ignore anything else around it (except Madden and 2K. Lets call them Drake and Rihanna for fun.) The point I’m here to make is while I think it will be an excellent game and proper sendoff to this generation of consoles, there are definitely reasons to be worried about it falling short.
Let’s start with the most obvious one. GTA4 was a MASSIVE disappointment to many. Sure, some people were perfectly fine with it. And that is fantastic. But I think that even those people would agree its easily the weakest GTA game since 3. It was just missing that wow factor its predecessors had. I’m pretty sure it was rushed due to pressure from MS and Sony, as well as the financial trouble Take Two was having at the time. 5 years should have been more than enough time to correct their mistakes. Still, anything can happen. And to me, games of this magnitude falling short hurt the most.
Single player mode. They took a huge risk switching it up and giving us 3 main protagonists this go round. I applaud the move personally, and I feel something of the sort was much needed. But how exactly will this affect the formula? Will the story (which most of you probably don’t care about anyway) become disjointed? Will playing with each character feel any different? I’m also worried about the missions. Will they have enough variation? GTA 4 really only had about 3 mission types. I feel they have everything in place to really get creative and I hope that’s what happens.
As for the online mode, its what I’m most excited about. I suspect I’m in the majority. With that said, mission variety is once again a flash point. I also worry that a multiplayer mode this expansive may have affected the story mode. The Call of Duty strategy. It sounds like with the right crew it can be what we always wanted from GTA honestly. But a lot of things have to go right to pull it off. And nothing’s guaranteed.
Last but not least, the biggest obstacle is your own hype. I’m watching people place expectations on this game it couldn’t meet in our wildest dreams. Those are the same people that will scream it was overhyped months from now. Having a realistic view of what to expect is always best. Expecting greatness from Rockstar is not a stretch. Expecting perfection and the greatest game ever is a recipe for letdown. It’s not impossible for it to clear the insanely high bar that’s being set. But it is improbable.
Unlike my overly pessimistic partner I’m amped for GTA V, albeit cautiously so. I wasn’t exactly disappointed with GTA IV, but I eventually got tired of the main character and my interest in the game simply waned. As far as playing Rockstar games are concerned, I didn’t like Red Dead Redemption and I gave Max Payne 3 a cursory glance before I decided to focus my attention elsewhere.
Most of Rockstar’s forays outside of GTA don’t hold my interest and even then, I’ve never actually finished an entire story sequence in the series before. Sure I’ve played (nearly) all of them but finishing the story portion of a Grand Theft Auto game? Hasn’t happened yet. So why am I amped for GTA V? Two reasons. The heists and to see if they can truly pull of the three character story arc.
As forgettable as the fourth iteration in the series was to me, I’ll never forget that bank heist level. An obvious rip off of Heat, that’s probably one my favorite missions in any game I’ve ever played, period. The shootouts during that level were SO intense, I still have fond memories of sitting on the edge of my seat with my heart racing, hands covered in sweat, looking feverishly as I tried to maneuver my way to safety. Needless to say, if I’m getting a whole game full of THOSE kind of missions, I’m with it.
The other main draw for me in GTA V is the story arc. What Rockstar is doing isn’t really unprecedented in terms of telling stories from multiple viewpoints. But being able to jump back and forth to 3 different characters in the middle of a mission? Yeah, that’s the type of thing you lean forward in your seat for. After the release of GTA IV, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3, I’m assuming Rockstar has learned a thing or two about storytelling.
I’ve ran through the single player stories in Spec Ops: The Line (SOTL), Tomb Raider, The Last of Us (TLOU), and Bioshock Infinite this year. TLOU gave me one of the best single player stories I’ve ever played in a video game, period. Bioshock, also gave me one helluva story to sit through as well. Tomb Raider showed the right way to do an origin story and SOTL told a gritty story on the psychological aspects of war. Point being, as the medium of video games is maturing, so are the stories being told. While GTA has always had a story present in the games, I can’t say they were ever really strong enough for me to want to see it through until the end. I’m betting on Rockstar getting it right this time.
In conclusion, if Rockstar is making a game full of heists that mirror the intensity of the one found in GTA and adding a great story to go with it? I’m willing to buy a full price ticket to get on the hype train. With a little less than 24 hours to go at the time you see this post, we’ll see if they can live up to the lofty expectations.