Grand Theft Auto 5: Game Breakdown
Having now finished the main storyline of GTAV on PS4 I can now fully commit and say it’s one of my favorite games of the year. With it’s great writing, interesting characters and fun game play it’s a game I’ll doubtlessly be revisiting from time to time. Of course the game has it’s flaws in all departments. The gun play is serviceable but nothing mind blowing, same with driving. Every mechanic in the game you will have seen done before better in other titles, but no other game brings so many mechanics and puts them into one complete package. O yeah and the fact that the new gen versions have a first person mode is kinda mind blowing but if I spent all day complimenting GTAV this would really be the most unoriginal games article ever written.
One thing that kept me going through the game was of course the story. Franklin, Trevor and Micheal have become some of my favorite game protagonists. Each with their own interesting personalities and foibles that you learn about as the story progresses.
Franklin is the games straight man and the character we first meet (In Present day). Working as a small time gangster in Los Santos, Franklin’s story is very reminiscent of CJ from GTA San Andreas, a rags to riches tale of a boy from the hood done good. Much like CJ, Franklin is drawn into a world of high crime really by accident, through the actions of those around him. A chance meeting with Micheal leads him to believe he can get out of the hood and make something of himself. He’s a hard worker and is eager to learn from Micheal who becomes his mentor. But Franklin is conflicted, as he is drawn further into the world of white collar crime with a group of professional bank robbers, he starts to lose some of his roots in the hood. This is one of the most interesting parts of the game’s story and one that comes in contrast to CJ from San Andreas. Franklin becomes more and more resistant to reconnect with his friends such as Lamar, who he grew up with, so he can spend more time with Micheal and Trevor. As Franklin begins to make a lot of money, he moves out of the hood, living in the hills in a bachelor pad on his own. CJ however took his family with him as he grew more powerful and wealthy. CJ and his sister moved across the state together, CJ never forgot who he was fighting for. But Franklin only fights for himself, forgetting those who made him what he is. I dare say some could read into this story a few troubling racial connotations. As Franklin becomes a better criminal he hangs out with more white people, and is hesitant to reconnect with his black friends. It would have been nice to see a few more black characters who were wealthy and successful who Franklin could connect with, instead it’s a parade of ever more wealthy white people.
Next we have Micheal. Micheal is a rather rare character in video games as he’s a father character whose family aren’t dead yet. Having once been a career criminal with Trevor, Micheal decided to get out of the business and go into witness protection, having Trevor believe him dead. When we meet Micheal in the present day he’s living what on the outside looks like a perfect life but is actually a nightmare. His family is hell, his wife is perpetually cheating on him, his daughter keeps mixing with drug dealers and porn directors and his son is a little shit. After he catches his wife with another man, and in retaliation destroys what he believes is that mans house, Micheal is forced to repay the mob money he doesn’t have. Deciding the best course of action is to begin stealing again, he teams up with his new friend Franklin and they get to work. The two work well together and Micheal begins seeing Franklin as the son he never had, who he connect with thanks to their shared experiences, experiences he just hasn’t had with his own lazy gamer/stoner son. As Micheal’s story progresses he is confronted with what he did all those years ago in the form of Trevor, who actually loves Micheal in a very brotherly way. When a secret is finally revealed between the two, Trevor and Micheal almost kill one another and from then the two are constantly at odds right to the end. Micheal’s story is all about how the American Dream doesn’t suit everyone, he has nice house, nice car, he’s reached capitalist nirvana but he’s still unhappy. Looking for something fulfilling in his life but unable to find it at the bottom of a whiskey bottle.
Trevor was perhaps the biggest surprise to me. From what i’d seen of him before playing, I knew Trevor was homicidal sociopath. But what is never really talked about is how he became that. Clearly unhinged from the start, Trevor found a friend in the form of Micheal and together the two were close friends, living the life of crime together. A life which was meant for Trevor, but Micheal wanting to have a better life for his kids and wife, leaves, faking his death and moving on. But Trevor can’t. He mourned Micheal and was never able to get the closure he needed. Upon finding Micheal still alive and well, Trevor begins to believe that life can be like how it was before, with the two of them and their friend in prison all together once more. Of course things don’t go as planned, and the two endlessly bicker and while Trevor constantly threatens to kill Micheal, you know he never will. Between those two is perhaps one of the most flawed ‘Bromances’ I’ve ever seen. After you look past all the violence and anger that Trevor portrays you see a very vulnerable man just trying to reconnect with a time when he was happier.
GTA V does have problems in it’s story though, a few places where maybe a few changes could have been made. The game’s women characters are almost entirely horrid. Now Franklin, Trevor and Micheal are violent mass murderers but you can still like them, but the women characters are almost always figures we’re meant to dislike. Micheal’s wife is said to constantly cheat on him and never tries to reconnect with her husband (in the first half of the game) small references are made to Micheal’s own infidelity but it’s never brought up as much, just hinted at and then left alone. All you see for the first half of the game of Micheal’s wife is her constant antagonism and Micheal’s reaction to it. While there are one or two good women such as Molly the Lawyer who is shown to be a rather professional women, and Patrica, the middle aged women Trevor falls in love with (In what I believe possibly an Oedipus complex issue). None of the women though ever engage in criminal activity and only once do you ever see a women use a gun (To scare off Trevor, It didn’t work).
It would have been awesome to see a women character be one of the three main characters and if the series does continue then Rockstar will really have to make one. Shows like Orange is the New Black have show to great effect how compelling female criminals can be. All the women in game are in there because they have some form of relationship with a male character, none of them are there by their own volition. So in the next game it would be fantastic to see a women criminal who is just as badass, antisocial, psychopathic as any man. I dare say the game would raise a few conservative eyebrows (more than it already does) at the sight of a women car jacking and gunning down crowds, but come on, it’s fair to say GTA has explored the themes of being a male criminal, now lets see a women.
It’s hardly controversial to say the GTAV is a very good game, with a clear amount of love put into it. The passion that must have gone into making a GTA game is always clear and it’s always been one of the things that have drawn me to them. I dare say over the next few months I’ll start another play through (i’ve completed GTA: SA about 6 times).
Hmmm now what game to pick up next….. Hello Dragon Age.