Grand Theft Auto 5 Review - People Suck

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Contrarian just for the sake of it? Link bait? Surely not?!

I envy people who have the time to invest in this game. If you were planning on buying it I am not sure any review is going to change your mind on it.

A local muso wrote a song about losing yourself in a previous GTA game after a relationship went south
http://dankelly1.bandcamp.com/track/vice-city-rolling

Given recent events in the USA regarding mass shootings, I do not want to play any shooting games for a while. I even traded going to see 5 John Woo movies in a weekend for an all Kung Fu weekend for a screening I am going to.

seems stupid during this review that he moans how depressing the world and characters are compared to a game like Saints Row and then later says the attempts at humour on the radio and place names come off as childish.
What compared to Saints Row where you kill people with a dildo bat?
Make your mind up over what you actually want from this game.

Greg Tito claims that if the characters were better written this would not only be game of the year, but game of the decade. I would assume that 'Game of the Decade' implies a 5 star review. As such, this one flaw is worth 1.5 stars against the game.

I haven't played GTA5 and I never plan to. I bought GTA 4 due to all the perfect 10's hyping it and personally hated the title. That said, this seems like an unusually harsh knock against a game for a single area of failure. What if people 1.5 out of 5 or 3 points out of 10 on Oblivion just because the main quest sucked? Is that really giving the game justice?

Greg Tito could be right, I've not played the game so I don't know how much some poorly written characters would hurt my ability to have fun in the open world. It just 'feels' like this one flaw impacts the review score (as well as dominates the video review itself) far more than it should.

Everything he said appealed to me about this game. Even the negatives... I want to play a story as a vile individual because that's actually something the industry is lacking at present.

So if the only cons he has with the game is how ruthless, evil and despicable the protagonists are? Sounds like a 5/5 review to me.

Will get when on PC.

Edit: upon further reflection I think giving it a 3.5/5 is a bit strange since the only reason given is what could be considered a truly subjective one.

Using a recent release like Total War: Rome II as an example the game has issues that are simply not subjective: incredible load times, bugs bugs bugs, a lack of transparency in the political system, leveling paths hidden in the in-game manual, terrible battle AI, and baffling building pros/cons (like something that gives you 12 bonus to public order in one way also gives you -12 to public order in another way). All of those things can be universally agreed to be negative for the game.

On the flip side, disliking an evil protagonist is a subjective thing, other people might love the idea. To rate the game in a negative manner because of it, rather than mention it as a problem the reviewer had on a PERSONAL level, I feel isn't doing the already broken gaming metric score any favors.

WarpZone:
Remember when GTA was actually fun? Tooling around the city in a 2D car, watching convicts sprinkle out of a jail you just crashed into like chips from a slot machine? Or actually engaging storylines like Tha Ballad of Gay Tony? Now it's like the developers said, "Whelp, Retro City Rampage stole our fun, Just Cause stole our comedy, Saints Row stole damn near everything. What do we have left for an identity?" And someone shrugged and said "I guess Fox News associates us with violent crime?" And then they spent 5 years and 20 billion dollars making the most ZOMG REELZ VIOLENT CRIME GAMZORZ EVAR!!!oneone.

Seriously, though, there's no point in even looking surprised at this point. It's a new pointless console generation. These people equate polygons with "EMOTION!!!". That means every single title coming down the pipe is going to get brownification like you've never seen before. Everything has to be DARK and GRITTY because GRITTY = REAL! Just ask the most serious and legitimate decade evar, THE 90'S! Wait...

The game is actually pretty fun. It's closer to saints row 2 than gta 4. Also the writing is funnier than in saints row.

GoddyofAus:
The game itself is perfectly fine yet the author of the review had a problem with it on a moral grounding.

Yep, this will certainly end well.

If only he was a woman, in which case this review would be burnt, and the entire website credited as unreliable, lies and trolling. You know what I am referring too.

The videogame reviewer here is saying that crime needs to be justified for more than money. It's bad that the portrayal of characters is a serious one and crime isn't all dandy? That's nice you know, the characters are loveable in a way (Michael & Franklin at least), but maybe GTA V isn't about making crime fun, it's about making it true to itself. From what I've seen it's doing all right. It takes a certain type of character to resort to crime, theft and all that and it shows that crime and money doesn't make you a happier person. The characters are addicted to it, it's what they do.

To all the people saying "He's just dismissing it because it's violent".

That's only half-true.

He doesn't like the violence WITHOUT CONTEXT.

In the previous GTA game, Niko was forced into his crimes and acts of violence. He always had a gun pointed against his head or the head of a loved one, forcing him to act.

Mr. Tito said that didn't happen in this game. You play as a horrible person doing horrible things just because you're a horrible person, and that's not as relatable as Niko's situation.

Perhaps I can relate. I try to uphold and live by certain morals, and playing as a horrible person isn't very appealing to me.

Balkan:
The game is actually pretty fun. It's closer to saints row 2 than gta 4. Also the writing is funnier than in saints row.

It's funny even though the protagonists are unsympathetic and the plot is depressing? If you say so. I just can't imagine how that squares with Greg's description of the game. Guess it's subjective.

At least no body can accuse the game of having Lugoscababib Discobiscuts. ha... Jimquisition reference

Anyway, good on you Tito it's nice to see someone who cares about gaming as an artform and doesn't just blindly give "the next big game" a good score

I don't have a problem with the review at all... except for the fact that the author seems to have considered that the characters in previous GTAs weren't bad people, and that scares me a little bit.

That is to say I wish the justification had been a bit more technical, about suspension of disbelief and empathy and ambiguity, rather than about whether the characters --who, let's remember for a second are fictional and don't actually exist-- are good or bad people.

But hey, I get the point. The lack of redeeming features strained suspension of disbelief and the game made Tito feel disconnected in a way they were probably not intending. Fair point. It's just that the review seems like it lacks a bit of depth and analysis of why the game caused that feeling, rather than stating that the feeling exists.

I'm sure someone has already posted this, but even so it deserves to be seen again:

I have an issue with the score (not the one you might think). You basically had very little good to say about the game, but you still gave it 4.5 out of 5. I did listen to the audio and it convinced me I shouldn't buy the game but if there is something that justifies that score I would like to know about it.

Hmmm... Haven't had a chance to play it yet, but I would like to remind everyone that human beings are capable of sympathizing with some pretty terrible people, as long as they're interesting.

To quote; "It is the difference between The Godfather Part 1 and Part 2, between Inglorious Basterds and Triumph of the Will, and between Just Cause 2 and JFK Reloaded. In the former examples, the audience can get behind the anti-heroes depicted for whatever reason and condone their admittedly awful actions, but in the latter group, the subject matter or the protagonist's morals are skewed too far from the norm to be comfortably witnessed."

I think this idea is under the yolk of a few preconceptions. Maybe the events we're witnessing aren't supposed to be pleasant. We don't need to condone their actions to empathize with a character, we just have to understand them.

The characters in The Godfather are not anti-heroes, in fact, they're not heroic at all. Most of them are concerned with looking out for their lot and ensuring their continued supremacy. Simply because they aren't raging psychotics doesn't excuse the fact that they regularly commit murder. And you know what? that's okay.

We don't empathize with Michael Caroline because we admire him, we empathize with him because he's human; he has desires, fears and dreams.

Even a character as reprehensible as Kratos from God of War is sympathetic, and not just in spite of his faults, sometimes because of them. The fact that he's such a monster, and the fact that he came by his cruelty honestly, that even he once had people he held dear, is what makes him a tragic figure.

Kratos is not defeated by his enemies, he is defeated by himself. What can drive a person to madness? Can we escape from our own guilt? Should we even be allowed to escape from what we've done? These are questions that the story of God of War evokes, they're questions that couldn't be asked of a heroic character acting with justification. And because Kratos is humanized, because we can understand how a human being like us could be driven to commit these terrible crimes, we don't ask them simply about him, we ask them about ourselves, not about a single human, but all humans. We are reminded that depravity is not comfortably distant from our nature, but uncomfortably close.

Kratos's actions are never justified or condoned (At least in the original game). God of War was uncompromising in it's characterization; Kratos is a vile, sadistic, hateful, ruthless, black-hearted, sociopathic monster of a person. But Kratos is still a person. He didn't spring fully formed from the head of Zeus, he became the person he is, like any human could.

I don't know if this is true of the protagonists of GTA V, but I think it's erroneous to suggest that a character's actions need to be justified. In fact, I would argue the opposite; a story shouldn't be biased towards a character, good or evil. It should neither condone nor condemn anyone's actions. The actions should be shown simply for what they are, for better or worse.

By trying to convince an audience that a character's actions are correct, a story replaces a characters perspective with it's own perspective, and denies itself the opportunity to deepen that character. I don't want to know why the writer thinks this is an ethically advisable or inadvisable course of action, I want to know what the CHARACTER thinks. The character is the one I'm interested it, the character is the one who inhabits and drives the story.

Now again, it may be that none of this is true of GTA V, that Franklin, Michael and Trevor are cartoonish, two dimensional caricatures lacking any humanity or depth. But if that's the case, it's not because they're terrible people, it's because they aren't people at all.

Stories shouldn't turn away from the truth because it's uncomfortable, in fact, unfortunate truths are the ones that need to be confronted the most.

WarpZone:

Balkan:
The game is actually pretty fun. It's closer to saints row 2 than gta 4. Also the writing is funnier than in saints row.

It's funny even though the protagonists are unsympathetic and the plot is depressing? If you say so. I just can't imagine how that squares with Greg's description of the game. Guess it's subjective.

Gallows humor, man. Dark things can be funny.

Have we gotten to the bottom of the negative comments being deleted?

Apparently light-hearted violence defines this medium. Not a compelling story (that GTA 5 has), or a huge, immersive world (that GTA 5 has), or even challenging themes that could only be explored through interactivity (that GTA 5 has), but light-hearted childish killing defines this medium and this game. Apparently, death with weight and gravity isn't serviceable now, we can't stare reality in the face anymore. It all has to be 'fun' and light-hearted and mild, because 'fun' and killing defines this medium, not engagement or deeper meaning. I can't have been the only one who found this mildly offensive at best.

Well, now that I've sat down and played it, I can confirm my opinion from earlier: we didn't see eye to eye on it. The game is an absolute masterpiece in every sense of the word.

I implore everyone to buy this game.

The problem with this review isn't the 3.5 its Greg's bitching about the protagonists of a GTA game being unredeemable villains. I find it refreshing and honest to play a criminal scumbag who is only motivated by money and power instead of some noble cause that tries to justify their actions because believe it or not that's what criminals actually do it for.

I love to play bad guys/girls! Isnt that what games are for? To do something we cannot really get away with in real life??
Too many times, writers want the ppl to 'relate' to the game's characters. Trying to be an everybody's person...too scared to go off on tangents on twisted mental states, in fear of alienating the experience.
I always root for the bad guy, the underdog. Fuck it! It's only entertainment...escape into the mind of something different, something you cant always understand, and if you do, it's only a glimpse that just teases whether they are humane or just sociopathic.
When you watch a film, you have no choice over any uncomfortable scene because that is intended for the experience. It's to portray a message or a feeling or even an opinion.
Then again...are critics not supposed to write in an 'everyman's' point of view? so i guess this should be expected for a review. However, what about the countless games with countless, unexplained killing anyway?

I did manage to give the game a try earlier, and the real annoyance for me is that the driving has been made far too easy this time around. Damn it! you people obviously moaned too much about how difficult the driving was in the last game and how awesome saints row was for making driving so accessible for the impatient. I found myself magnetized towards dirt in every car just to feel some sort of challenge
Oh and yes, enjoyable. Hope my internet connection is sorted for the online play when it happens

This game really needed either ONE really good character to play as OR a create-a-character option like San Andreas did.

I do agree that there's only so much time you can spend playing a tyrannical bad-ass which is way I (also) think the story suffers a bit.

Matthewmagic:
I have an issue with the score (not the one you might think). You basically had very little good to say about the game, but you still gave it 4.5 out of 5. I did listen to the audio and it convinced me I shouldn't buy the game but if there is something that justifies that score I would like to know about it.

He gave it a 3.5. Not a 4.5. Which is still a decent score. I'm hoping that you've looked at other gameplay videos and reviews before coming to this decision and that Greg's was the one that finally confirmed it for you. Seems odd that you'd make up your mind on a game just because of one less than great review (great as in score wise, not review quality wise). I mean, I wouldn't. I like to read reviews to get a basic sense of how the game is. I don't actually buy games until they've been out for a week and other gamers have had a chance to play them and voice their own opinions of it. I mean, if I had always based my decision to buy a game just from one review or from reviews alone, I might have actually wasted money on Dragon Age II.
Who knows though, maybe your opinion has always lined up with Greg's on every single game he's ever reviewed and he's the only person who's opinion you need to hear.

Interesting review, even more interesting comment thread!

Ever since I was lured into Saints Row, GTA has just never held much appeal for me.

In Saints Row the characters are mass murdering psychopaths. And that's ok, because the story has absolutely no pretentions to linking them to any kind of "relatable" or sympathetic backstory, or putting them in a realistic world - that way we get escapism. But from what this review tells me, GTA V goes out of its way to give all of the characters unique backstories, interesting histories and so on... then still makes them mass murdering psychopaths.

Why bother with all the effort in the backstories, in the character and world building, if you aren't going to put some interesting personalities in them?

It sounds like a jarring disconnect that I simply couldn't get over, and I believe it is a very valid criticism of a game. If GTA wants to go down the "dark and gritty" route whilst SR takes the "outrageous and ridiculous" one, GTA needs to ensure its characters are in line with the genre.

I kind of think this is what all reviews should be like, less an inspection of the technical aspects of the game and more a personal touch, but then I think that would need numerous reviews of one game from various staff members to give an overall balanced view. I think I would prefer that to one person's subjective opinion, which is what all reviews are and why the concept of ratings scores is fundamentally flawed. I would happily see The Escapist do away with scores, I feel it's not really in keeping with the tone of the website, although I understand why they do.

So Greg gave Dragon Age 2 5/5, so what? I've not played it but there's plenty of games I've loved over the years that the majority have disliked, and vice versa, massive hits that I can't get away with. The problem only occurs if you're expecting a review to give a score for you personally, which is what most reviews tend to do, go too broad and end up reading exactly the same as each other.

This is why I like The Escapist's content more than other gaming websites. I like reading about how other people experience games - personally I couldn't give much of a toss about how likeable the characters are in GTA (although I haven't played it yet tbf), I will buy it and I know I will enjoy it, but I like a different perspective. If all you want is your own opinion on a game, just play it yourself and don't bother with reviews!

I can't decide which is worse, the fact that they want to make it seem like they don't give inflated scores by handing out random and unjustified reviews, or giving quality games low scores under the presumption that if they do, it means they can still be "hard and rough" on triple A titles. I think it's pretty obvious when a review for an unfinished Total War game gets a higher score than a finished game with some people who you could compare to Walter White, someone/something is pulling strings in all sorts of wrong directions.

That review really made it seem like playing the game was miserable hell. You might as well have outsourced the narration to Alan Alda and told him to work his MASH finale "magic". I get that characters in GTA games are scumbags, but how was the GAME?

Well, believe it or not, hardcore criminals generally are really bad guys.

I consider it refreshing that a game dares to drop the usual contrived justification for the killing sprees ahead. It's not like they were ever sufficient to justify the inevitable pedestrian genocide, so what were they but hypocrisy anyway?

Maybe the villainous protagonist is also a more interesting character than rugged anti-hero #102,786? That he is entirely beyond ones own comfort zone and moral event horizon isn't necessarily a bad thing.

RedDeadFred:
*snip*

Well my descision comes partly from gregs review, partly from other reviews, and partly from personal knowledge that the GTA series is one I don't like that much. I had a lot of fun with GTA 3 back in the day, but since the saints row series came out I find that everything I enjoy about GTA can be found in those games times ten. I played GTA 4 and liked the story quite a bit but, I was still on the fence about GTA 5 because I'm still playing Saints Row 4.

That being said I give the reviews on this site more credit then I do on almost any other site. I find the reviewers cut to the chase of what I want to know, seldom mentioning crap I don't care about like graphics or multiplayer unless the game is built around those aspects. So yes in a sea of stellar scores I do hold Gregs opinion above them because this site has an excellent track record for me, better than any other review site I have ever come across.

I'm not saying GTA 5 is a bad game but, I have a good basis to say that it just is not for me.

Matthewmagic:

RedDeadFred:
*snip*

Well my descision comes partly from gregs review, partly from other reviews, and partly from personal knowledge that the GTA series is one I don't like that much. I had a lot of fun with GTA 3 back in the day, but since the saints row series came out I find that everything I enjoy about GTA can be found in those games times ten. I played GTA 4 and liked the story quite a bit but, I was still on the fence about GTA 5 because I'm still playing Saints Row 4.

That being said I give the reviews on this site more credit then I do on almost any other site. I find the reviewers cut to the chase of what I want to know, seldom mentioning crap I don't care about like graphics or multiplayer unless the game is built around those aspects. So yes in a sea of stellar scores I do hold Gregs opinion above them because this site has an excellent track record for me, better than any other review site I have ever come across.

I'm not saying GTA 5 is a bad game but, I have a good basis to say that it just is not for me.

Ah, sorry my impression from your post was that you only looked at Greg's opinion. For the record, I also think Saints Row 4 looks more entertaining than GTAV. I'm sure it will have a similarly high caliber story but like GTAIV I doubt it will have as much longevity as far as messing around goes. I'll probably rent this game to play through the story or just borrow it from a friend.

What people need to realize is no game will ever appeal to 100% of people. Take any legend of zelda game, I hate them all. I played a few (one that was on the N64 and one that was on the gameboy) and they were just boring. Couldn't relate to the characters, didn't like the setting, just not a game series for me. Sure games might receive 90% of reviews that are positive but there will always always always be someone who doesn't like it. It's not controversial to not like a game, it's expected. I'm sure there's even people out there who didn't like Portal.

I've not played the game, but scanning the rest of the net's reaction, my suspicion grows that The Escapist is rapidly becoming the Tumblr of videogame sites: navel-gazing, po-faced introspecting, moralising, and generally missing the big picture in the pursuit of shrilly declaiming perceived social justice issues.

For a bit of an alternative perspective, here's what Edge says about Trevor, who embodies most of the violence that our fair and sensitive reviewer takes so much objection to:

Most of that bluster comes from Trevor. He's brilliant, blessed with most of the best lines, an unstoppable ball of aggression, hate and pathological violence. He's the sort of person who'd pick up a hooker then run her over and take his money back, or uppercut a hiker off the top of a mountain. The kind of guy who'd bring an RPG to a knife fight, and who'd wake up on a beach wearing only his underwear and spend a couple of days doing missions in his pants. If Franklin is the lens through which we have traditionally seen Grand Theft Auto and Michael is the story its creator has long wanted to tell, Trevor is the character who best embodies the way tens of millions of GTA fans actually play the game.

Get it? It's irony. It's satire so reflective that your TV screen might as well be a polished mirror.

Y'know what, I'm waiting for the Zero Punctuation review. It's a sad state of affairs where you look to the class clown for an unbiased view, instead of the teacher.

As someone who also finds games not fun when I realize I despise the protagonists, I appreciate this review. I've walked away from games before, even when the gameplay itself was fine, because the characters or story was something I couln't get onboard with. And as I feel that a game should be primarily judged not on graphics, or scope, but whether or not it is fun to play, this review cuts to the heart of the matter. Guess I'll give this one a miss.

That sounded like a fair assessment of the GTA franchise in general.
One of the biggest turn-offs for me is just how disgustingly violent it is, coupled with how quickly it becomes very boring.
I'd rate most GTA games that I've played (GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas) somewhere between 6 and 7 (out of 10).
Of course, reviews and enjoyment are completely SUBJECTIVE and your mileage may vary.

Knowing that I don't care for GTA, I will probably skip this one.

On another note - I'm more dismayed by the 29(!) perfect 100's I see on metacritic which denotes perfection - a feat that is highly unlikely. All other variants of this franchise suffered in one department or another (eg, poor lock on system, poor camera, lack of focus, etc) and I doubt this one is any different.

sumanoskae:

WarpZone:

Balkan:
The game is actually pretty fun. It's closer to saints row 2 than gta 4. Also the writing is funnier than in saints row.

It's funny even though the protagonists are unsympathetic and the plot is depressing? If you say so. I just can't imagine how that squares with Greg's description of the game. Guess it's subjective.

Gallows humor, man. Dark things can be funny.

Yeah, but that only works if you're in the same headspace as the characters being hanged, or in the headspace of the characters doing the hanging. Video games are rife with examples of the latter, where the enemies run at you shouting obscenities, and you think "man, these guys deserve what they get." *BANG*

Doing it the latter way requires that the audience give a shit about the characters being hanged. You sympathize, so you keep playing because you want to see what happens. When they crack a joke right before their own inevitable death, it MEANS something to the audience.

I suppose you could make an argument for a game in which you play a douchebag and the player hates the douchebag he is playing, and so seeing the player's character get his comeuppance is satisfying. Kinda like the deliberately annoying characters in a horror movie. Except that even in horror movies, they always save one "pure" character for the audience to follow because CARING about a character is KINDA IMPORTANT in a visual medium, let alone an interactive one!

Besides which, if torturing the player's character is actually the draw, there are much easier ways to wring catharsis out of the game. Just run off a cliff and die. Bastard got what he deserved. Next game.

I guess for some people unlikable protagonists isn't a deal-breaker. If you're one of those people, can you explain why? Do you actually relate to these characters more BECAUSE they're greedy, short-sighted, and pointlessly cruel?

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