Saturday, 28 September 2013

I must be wrong about GTA5

I am wrong, it is the only logical explanation. I, like seemingly every other person in the western world, have been playing GTA5. I have played about 6 hours worth (Minor Spoilers incoming) and have just completed the first mission for the Fed. And I must be wrong, because what feels like a billion people absolutely love this game, and I don't. Hell I am struggling to find the motivation to play any more. So I am going to try and explain why I don't really like it. But don't get angry with me, because as I have said, I am wrong. If millions of people are saying it is a masterpiece, including many people whose opinions I respect and admire, then it must be me.

First off I have no beef with the visuals or sound design, both of which are top knotch. It is probably the most well realised open world game I have ever seen, with only Red Dead Redemption coming close (which is a far more empty world). However it is what the game offers me to do that I find unengaging. I will say this upfront, I am not a good driver in video games, and there is a fair amount of driving in this game. Hell the first Heist I took part in turned out to be little more than a motocross race. I don't find the driving fun or enjoyable, just a means to get the characters from mission to mission. Not that I find the shooting significantly more interesting either, taking the fairly standard 3rd person cover route. It works perfectly well (better than previous games), but is not hugely engaging, more serviceable than fun.

The characters in previous GTA games have always been, well, repugnant to me. I need to either have a character I like, or preferably a blank slate to work with. However the game has a very fixed idea about the characters and I, as the player am not allowed to deviate from them. In fairness the characters in GTA 5 are more likeable, with the burgeoning relationship between Franklin and Michael actually verging on the sweet. However likeable Franklyn is though, everyone he knows is so vile and unpleasant that spending time with him feels like a chore, Michael has the same issue with his family. His parental responsibilities don't motivate me to sympathise with the character, as his family are horrible, beyond hoping he might whip out his gun and put me and him out of our misery. And Trevor, well what can I say. Yes he is undeniably well written and truly horrible. I have no desire to play someone truly horrible. The other 2 are far from saints but at least have redeeming or likeable qualities, Trevor doesn't, at all. I realise that all these characters are exactly how the developers wanted them, but it doesn't mean I have to like them. Going through the many cut scenes, I kept thinking that this would make a great TV show. It felt like something you would find on HBO, rather than a game.

It has occasionally been funny, and I have laughed out loud a few times, and there is a fair amount of humour in the game. However it is not really to my taste. It is all very “ha ha look at how clever we are, isn't that funny because we are sooo clever.” humour. I find that literally everything makes an attempt to be ironic or make a point tiresome. Sort of like that guy at a party that keeps telling clever ironic jokes when everyone is just trying to have fun. Some would find him charming, I would just think he is a wanker.

So that’s why I don't like it, but as I said, I am wrong. So do I keep trying with the game and hope to fall in love with it, or just give up? I genuinely want your thoughts.

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