Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Quality of Storytelling in Grand Theft Auto V.

One of the biggest reasons that I purchased Playstation 4 last year was that I was excited about some of the games that would be released on it later this year.  For just about any person that cares about adventure games, 2015 is likely going to be a pretty good year.

Nevertheless, I have recently played this game called Grand Theft Auto V lately, so let's review it a bit here. I'll try to pay attention to its storylines and not talk too much about how the game was programmed. I think most of us can agree that the game looks pretty good.

To be honest, I still haven't played through all the quests yet. I have done like 90% of the campaign so far but it's probably enough for me to rather fairly assess how well the characters and the storylines work in the game.

The game is a bit of a mixed bag. There are a lot of good things that can be said about the characters and the writing in general. At the same time, there are things that objectively speaking haven't really worked and have left me feeling somewhat bad about the game.

One of the things that I liked about Grand Theft Auto is the way the characters are introduced. You don't get to play them all from the get go. You get to meet them one at a time, based on the way the storylines develop. This really works well.

Of all these playable characters, Michael  who has a family is probably the most likable. Trevor is likely the most fun. He is an aggressive alcoholic, who seems to lose his clothes all the time. Franklin, the black guy, on the other hand, is a rather neutral character.

When it comes to storytelling, GTA V shows how challenging it is to write a game where you're supposed to steal cars, pull off heists and kill people without alienating the player. It's challenging to write the game in a way that would still make us root for the characters.

In my opinion the writers could have done better. There are moments that simply don't work. like when Michael is supposed to rig a phone that kills a "facebook" boss during an exhibition. All I could think of was that it was a massive misstep.

I also didn't like at all when the player - as in Trevor - was forced to torture a character in the game. It made me feel really uncomfortable. It was really difficult to keep continuing and I tried to choose the least violent method to get the job done.

On the other hand, I really liked the bit where Michael's daughter was doing an audition for "American Idol" and Trevor and Michael decide to save her. The way they humiliated that Ryan Seacrest clone was actually pretty funny and poignant.

I also thought it was fun when Michael becomes a movie producer - which was pretty much an 'Entourage' redux. Since I'm a fan of that show, naturally I was rather entertained about the whole thing. The 'premiere' and what happened after was well written.

Nevertheless, as a whole I think the storylines could have been more consistent. The motivations for the characters seem to be missing some of the time. There are also those token "buddy movie" tropes that I could have lived without too.

So taking all these things into consideration, perhaps the best way to enjoy Grand Theft Auto V is when you don't finish it too quickly. Playing this way you get to forget most of the flaws in the storylines, that may or may not bother you.

In the end, Grand Theft Auto V could could have been a better game had it been better written. But perhaps most players weren't looking for a plausible story. After all, even with its flaws most of the time even I have enjoyed playing it.

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