GTAV's Characters Are Just Bad

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GTAV's Characters Are Just Bad

No-one's playing it for the story? Nobody would have said that if the story had been good.

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Just for the record, umbrellas actually don't sell very well in Seattle. Exposing your head to the dreary sky is a point of pride for many of us, and those who don't never forget their own umbrellas, and rarely seek new ones.
Sunglasses, on the other hand, do. Who can remember where we put our sunglasses from last year when the sun only comes out once every three months?
Stupid sun. Making us squint all the time.
Curse you life-giving ball of fire!

Brace yourself for the incoming storm of fanboys howling in rage they you did not fall to your knees and worship their game.

I watched a lot of GTAV as my friend played it.
I kept saying "Wow what a bunch of aholes".

A player, released in the sandbox and free of consequences, is reckless and whimsical, not cruel. They might kill someone if they're in the way or because they fly off in a hilarious manner, but prolonged and calculated torture isn't the same.

Someone hasn't heard of the The Sims community it seems.

I love it how this article manages to state my big problem with so many games: The lack of motivation that I can relate to.

These are GTA protagonists we're talking about here, right? Most of the time I agree with you, but in this case I cannot. Did anyone go into this game expecting these three to be holy beacons of morality? I sure didn't. But that doesn't mean that their "motivation" isn't there. All three characters have very defined arcs they go through.

Michael is a retired thief who was pulled back into the game by a younger man looking to make some money. When he gets back in, he remembers how much he missed doing jobs and making loads of cash. He is also haunted by what he did 9 years before the game, especially when he realizes Trevor lives close to Los Santos and eventually finds out what he and the FIB did. Michael is ready to move on with his live, but Trevor wants to keep the good old days going. He isn't ready to move into the present, only to embrace the past for the rest of his life. And Franklin wants to break into the business but needs Michael's help to find work. All of them have a reason to be there, and it's just as thrilling to watch as Niko Bellic's story.

At his core, Niko was indeed a good character. But it's the game that butchered him in to this ready to kill, do-anything, boring mess of a guy who's even more schizophrenic than Trevor. In story, Niko didn't want to be a killer when coming to LC. But by the time we see this in story, it's painfully obvious that we control him like a maniac, wildly killing anything in his path. One of the first things you can do is hole up in the hospital and shoot down everyone and anything coming through the doors for free guns. That made him a bad character. What makes the V-Trinity work is that these characters are part of the GTA Universe. Michael at his visits to the shrink brings up the point the best by saying that he's actually pretty average for the city. They're better characters than Niko for the simple fact that they are written for the material they're in.

Now, as for Trevor's torture session ... you do realize he's anti-torture, right?

I dunno. The GTAV torture scene made me profoundly uncomfortable. But I believe games are truly art and the fact that it managed to illicit that response from me was powerful. Not saying Yahtzee is wrong or anything. I just liked that a game bothered to try and draw out any emotion other than raucous glee. Any other developer would have had that scene tossed out after the first focus group.

Of course I haven't played Spec Ops: The Line yet. I got it during the last Steam Sale though. So maybe that does "uncomfortable" better than GTAV and I just haven't been enlightened yet. Time will tell.

The GTA protagonists are reprehensible, this much is true. But part of me likes that Rockstar just did away with the pretense. CJ acting like a good person in cutscenes while mowing down passers by in gameplay is incongruous. Michael, Trevor or even Franklin doing it... it kinda seems in character. Even if that character is unpleasant.

Cowabungaa:

A player, released in the sandbox and free of consequences, is reckless and whimsical, not cruel. They might kill someone if they're in the way or because they fly off in a hilarious manner, but prolonged and calculated torture isn't the same.

Someone hasn't heard of the The Sims community it seems.

I laughed, but it's still not the same. And I'm not necessarily sure how much the communities behind The Sims and Grand Theft Auto really overlap. And I'd hope it's not really any sort of majority of people who play the game just to lock Sims into rooms with no doors, or to never let them sleep or eat or use the restroom. Contrarily, most of the defense of Grand Theft Auto V has been that people don't play the series for the story, or that the characters are supposed to be terrible because that's what the average player is like anyway.

If Rockstar's continued focus on narrative is anything to go by, people most certainly do play the games for the story, and I imagine that many people don't act like a complete jackass just because they can. I, for one, don't find Grand Theft Auto very engaging as a franchise precisely because driving around running pedestrians over in stolen cars only remains entertaining for so long, and the writing and characters tend to be too tedious for my liking. When I played Saints Row The Third, I didn't spend all of my time running down the streets whacking people over the heads with The Penetrator, just because it was funny; That's not really the type of "gamer" that I am. EDIT: That's not to say I didn't do it at all, of course, just that the novelty wore off fairly quickly and the game had plenty else to offer to keep my interest held.

Cowabungaa:

A player, released in the sandbox and free of consequences, is reckless and whimsical, not cruel. They might kill someone if they're in the way or because they fly off in a hilarious manner, but prolonged and calculated torture isn't the same.

Someone hasn't heard of the The Sims community it seems.

He has.

And he denounced Sims 3 as an evil game because a)you enslave the sims to do your bidding and b) the game enslaves the player to keep on playing through faux-responsibility.

Frankly I'm enjoying the version of GTA. It's actually the first that has held my attention long enough to make me want to finish it. I can see the inconsistencies that Yahtzee mentions. It's pretty obvious. But the story in itself is pretty interesting. I agree with gambler's assessment. '

So, in reference to the torture scene. Before that mission popped up, I switched to Trevor and his "intro" scene was him in the middle of the road in only his underwear. I got in his truck and took the call for that mission. So my first thought was ... "Need clothes". Well, when I got out of my truck to buy some, it switched me to the scene for the mission.

So that whole mission, Trevor was going through the motions in just his tighty whities. Talk about surreal. But in all honesty, It reminded me of the scene in Payback, with Gibson's character getting his toes bashed in.. *shiver*.

Honestly, the three protagonists are one of my favourite things about the game. All of them are complete cunts in their own way, and all of them are constantly entertaining (especially in the back and forth they have with each other).

So yeah, a strong disagreement on this one. They were a real treat that I wasn't expecting going in (considering I thought Niko was awful and every protagonist before him has been a bit of a blank slate villainous sort).

TheKasp:
I love it how this article manages to state my big problem with so many games: The lack of motivation that I can relate to.

I really fear the day when a GTA protagonist watches my little pony and plays videogames between murder sprees.

This is my favorite GTA story. Not because it's good--it's really not--and not because the characters have any depth to them. What really does it for me is that I find myself laughing constantly. Michael may not be a shining beacon of character development, but he's got some decent one-liners. Franklin may not be anything at all, but he brings a genuinely hilarious piece of dumbass luggage with him named Lamar. Trevor's antics (when they're spur of the moment, anyway) are indeed humorous if you're able and willing to turn off your moral compass while you play.

In many ways, this game acts as an antithesis to Grand Theft Auto IV. While GTA IV aimed to be deep, this aims to be a bit goofier. While GTA IV had a gray and gritty world, this one is bright and colorful. I kinda suspect that Rockstar intentionally didn't give this game as "good" a story as their last romp, for this very reason. If anything, the game was meant to act as a massive tutorial for GTA Online, with a story there simply because it needed one. To that end, it was quite successful.

P.S. Thanks

It's like Rockstar didn't want to tie the audience down with characters that had a solid arc, so we get three characters who's arc don't go anywhere.

By the end of the game there's no conclusion to Trevor's, Michael's, and Franklin's story. They're exactly the same as when we first met them, except slightly richer. With Michael there seems to be not even one ounce of difference; He's still an unhappy asshole with an unhappy asshole family. Trevor is still a sick fuck in his trailer, and Franklin is alone in his big villa.

So what was the point to all of this?

TheKasp:
I love it how this article manages to state my big problem with so many games: The lack of motivation that I can relate to.

Exactly why is having lots of money a hard motivation to relate to?

This is exactly the reason why I couldn't watch any of the streams on Twitch for this game. (I couldn't play it myself at all, since I don't have a console past the PS2) The characters and the story just killed it, I felt uncomfortable right from the beginning and switched over to other things after 10 minutes.

I think one of the things that GTA Vs Story lacked was a decent villain. In GTA IV we had Dimitri Raskalov, he betrayed Niko fairly early on in the game which gave us a motivation to find and kill him. He constantly kept trying to kill Niko and his associates so that motivation was never lost. Once you got to the ending of the game you actually wanted to be rid of him. Th closes GTA V had to a villain was Agent Haines and while he was a thoroughly horrible person he barely actually antagonized you throughout the game. The other characters that were set up as villains either barely factored into the game like Stretch or that triad boss or only actually antagonized you at the very ending of the game like Haines and Weston. If they would have been established as antagonists early on and were an actual threat throughout the game you'd have actually had a motivation.

I know that GTA V was the better game but it's undeniable that GTA IV had the better story. And part of me is sad to know that the only reason GTA V didn't have a better story was everyone complaining about GTA IV being to serious...

GTA 5 is not a bad game by any stretch, but it is definitely not a 97 as metacritic claims it to be.

That's funny, I always thought GTA was about pornographic levels of vehicular mayhem and extreme violence, with increasing amounts of sex thrown in for good measure. Would it be improved by stellar writing that ended up with the three character arcs tied together in an enlightening denouement? Well, maybe, but I sure don't require it. It's the same way I feel about Saints Row - I definitely didn't go into that demanding solid, believable characters or complex motivations. They're both games about extreme violence and gratuitous exploitation.

And I didn't play any of the other GTAs because of the story, and the only reason I ever progressed the story missions at all was to unlock other parts of the game to do crazy stuff in. It was all pretty unmemorable stuff as far as I'm concerned, but GTA 5 definitely doesn't have that problem.

And yes, the torture scene is extremely uncomfortable, but that's because you're forced to slow down and consider your actions. Meanwhile, the hundreds of other people you've mowed down, shot, beaten to death or otherwise brutalized just don't seem to register as much.

Covarr:
In many ways, this game acts as an antithesis to Grand Theft Auto IV. While GTA IV aimed to be deep, this aims to be a bit goofier. While GTA IV had a gray and gritty world, this one is bright and colorful. I kinda suspect that Rockstar intentionally didn't give this game as "good" a story as their last romp, for this very reason. If anything, the game was meant to act as a massive tutorial for GTA Online, with a story there simply because it needed one. To that end, it was quite successful.

I haven't played any of the GTAs, but an outsider's perspective - it seems to be that, since Saints Row dropped any pretense of seriousness and dialed the meter all the way up to (literally) super-crazy, the natural thing for GTA to do would be to push back in the opposite direction, and really blow people away with a fantastically told serious story.

One reason I've been staying away from GTA (and why, before 3, I stayed away from Saints Row) is that I picked up kind of an undercurrent of "hah, yeah, we're joking, but actually we're not", like the creepier moments of Family Guy. That's quite possibly unfair, but I'm getting really strong vibes of it from what I'm reading about GTA5.

Y'know, while I admit that GTA V's characters are "inconsistent" for the reasons Yahtzee stated, I still somehow find the thing as compelling as all the other GTA games (maybe not as much as GTA IV and it's DLC episodes, but at least on par with Vice City and San Andreas).

It's certainly a lot better than most of the "spunkgargleweewee" crap where you play an emotionless soldier gunning down foreigners/alien monsters (with frankly little difference in characterization between the opposing forces) and committing "gritty" war crimes (such as the part where you shove a glass shard into a victims mouth, and punching it around the inside of his gums), and still told you're the good guy because you "fight for the good guys", or "all the guys you're shooting are EEEEEE-VILLLLL!!!", without giving legitimate motivations for why you're good, and why they're evil, apart from stock political talking points.

In a sense, I think Rockstar was deliberately trying to badly motivate the GTA V characters, as a sort of hipster-ish "ironic" jab at how other Triple-A games have main characters with even worse motivations - the difference being that the GTA V heroes, for how badly they're motivated, at least consistently admit they're badly motivated.

I personally think the actual plot is better digested as a "TV serial" kind of deal rather than a single, cohesive story. The episodic stories are brief, the main characters stay largely the same, but the situations they face and enemies they fight are radically different for each episode. The main draw isn't how the characters evolve over the series, and more on how they'll pull off this next job, and/or fight this new set of bad guys.

For example, the "Prologue" mission would have been the pilot episode for the GTA V TV Series, or perhaps the grand finale of a previous season of the GTA show. The first "episode" of the GTA V TV show is Franklin and Lamar doing repo jobs for Simeon. The second episode would be around when Franklin tries to repo Jimmy's car, and is ordered at gunpoint by Michael to smash up Simeon's dealership. The next few episodes would revolve around Franklin doing favors for Michael, hoping he could pass on some expertise to him, before culminating with when he helps Michael tear down the house of a guy sleeping with Michael's wife - and both of them end up owing $2.5 million to a ruthless drug cartel lord. The final episode of this "arc" would have been planning and executing the Jewelry Store Job, and paying off the drug cartel lord... only to "reveal" Michael's old partner Trevor is still alive in Blaine County, and now knows that Michael is back in the game.

Then we have the episodes of Trevor wrapping up his business in Blaine County before going to Los Santos, then the arc where Trevor forces Michael to work with him as repayment for the job gone wrong in the Prologue, and then the arc where the FIB men that gave Michael witness protection see he's getting out of line, and force him to do dirty work for them 'lest they expose him to the world at large, and so on and so on until the last mission, which is the "Grand Finale" of the whole game/TV season.

True, TV has proven there are shows that can have consistent and conclusive character arcs over the course of the show, and there are shows that suffer from not having consistent motivations for their characters, but GTA V is kind of in that sweet spot of having characters that are interesting enough to bounce all kinds of crazy scenarios off of for a game about as long as a TV show season.

tmande2nd:
Brace yourself for the incoming storm of fanboys howling in rage they you did not fall to your knees and worship their game.

I watched a lot of GTAV as my friend played it.
I kept saying "Wow what a bunch of aholes".

I have seen more of ZP fanboys here then GTA fans. I hear always from ZP fan when he review a popular game "brace yourself for butthurt fanboys coming in here and raging, hurr durr we are so smart". I'm getting sick of it.

I blame more of that "realism" that's stinking up the place. Rock Star tried making GTA, a series meant to be a cartoonish power-fantasy of crime, more "gritty and realistic", and forgetting that crime in the real world is far from enjoyable. It's gruesome and horrific. It's like they can't decide if they want to make us feel bad about the stuff they make us do in their game, or indulge in our inner guilt-free maniac.

Wait... people dont begin heinous acts of crime and torture and even good old grade A terrorism, mayhem and destruction?

Man... I really aint normal :( .

Well to be serious, not on my first or maybe even second playthrough, but its CERTAIN that one of my playthroughs in most games is pretty much comparable to what Trevor does, though in different ways.

MaddKossack115:
It's certainly a lot better than most of the "spunkgargleweewee" crap where you play an emotionless soldier gunning down foreigners/alien monsters (with frankly little difference in characterization between the opposing forces) and committing "gritty" war crimes (such as the part where you shove a glass shard into a victims mouth, and punching it around the inside of his gums), and still told you're the good guy because you "fight for the good guys", or "all the guys you're shooting are EEEEEE-VILLLLL!!!", without giving legitimate motivations for why you're good, and why they're evil, apart from stock political talking points.

Not sure if you've played the CoD game where that torture scene takes place, but that's an incredible oversimplification of what goes on in it. The game doesn't paint clear good/evil lines (the entire game revolves around a character who's the victim of some fairly horrible brainwashing), and there's no suggestion at all that the characters performing the torture are good guys. They are trying to prevent a nerve gas attack on civilians, so the stakes are high, but it's left to the player to decide if the stakes can ever possibly be high enough to justify it.

People complain a lot about Call of Duty but that post seemed like really unfair criticism of a story that was a lot better than people give it credit for.

Makabriel:
Frankly I'm enjoying the version of GTA. It's actually the first that has held my attention long enough to make me want to finish it. I can see the inconsistencies that Yahtzee mentions. It's pretty obvious. But the story in itself is pretty interesting. I agree with gambler's assessment. '

So, in reference to the torture scene. Before that mission popped up, I switched to Trevor and his "intro" scene was him in the middle of the road in only his underwear. I got in his truck and took the call for that mission. So my first thought was ... "Need clothes". Well, when I got out of my truck to buy some, it switched me to the scene for the mission.

So that whole mission, Trevor was going through the motions in just his tighty whities. Talk about surreal. But in all honesty, It reminded me of the scene in Payback, with Gibson's character getting his toes bashed in.. *shiver*.

The "intros" when you switch characters (specifically Trevor's) became one of the highlights of the game for me. I was quite surprised to see that the "trying to flush a leg down the toilet" scene wasn't from a cutscene but just something random for Trevor to be doing when you cut back to him. My favourite had him throwing the member of the Lost off the bridge though.

I guess it's just a matter of taste, but I really liked the trio of characters in GTAV. Oh, and this article? Never read it. If GTA IV is anything to go buy, the "critique" of GTA V will probably continue on for many months yet, so there will plenty of stuff upcoming that I can also choose not to read.

Once again, I have to disagree with a games journo I have the utmost respect for (is this what Armand White feels like all the time?). I'm almost tempted to just write the game off to better fit into the gaming circles I tend to frequent. :P

Anyway, I respect and understand your position Yahtzee, but I have to disagree. You speak about the central problem being that you feel that nothing the protagonists do seems to satisfy them, and I think that's the point. I think GTA V intentionally creates this archetypal (spelling?) world of standard fare empowerment, only to leave you with an intentionally empty feeling. Yeah sure, Micheal, Franklin, and Trevor were big badasses that killed all their enemies and stole all the money, but what the hell did it get them? Everything, and yet, absolutely fucking nothing. Franklin's all alone, Trevor's still a psycho, and while Michael has some resolution, it's more along the lines of: 'well, my life is pretty much all fucked up and it's never getting fixed, might as well accept it and drink more while my unsatisfied wife and kids are upstairs.' In my opinion, this game was all about giving the player all this stuff (money, guns, cars, properties, etc.), but still leaving them ultimately unsatisfied with three playable characters that are essentially massive, hypocritical, trainwrecks. And, to be honest... I love it.

As you progress through this darkly comedic, but still ultimately tragic, nightmare version of the modern world (America's not the only country full of entitled snotbags), things get more psychotic, uncomfortable, unethical, and downright disturbing. It's a world populated with abhorrent bigotry wherever you look and wide spread corruption throughout all levels of government, so yeah, forgive me if I don't buy into the thinking that the world it's portraying is in any way unironically ideal. In fact, making any claim that GTA V IS in fact showcasing some kind of perfect and insightful world I think says more about the person making the claim than it does the actual game itself. Additionally, there's almost no denying that the characters you play as are motivated almost solely by their ambition to get ahead, no matter who gets hurt in the process. Michael in some ways DOES care about his family, but ultimately, he's nothing but a hypocrite who desperately needs the rush of criminal activity to give him any kind of happiness, too bad he never realizes it. Franklin doesn't care who has to go down in his search for a higher standing, even going so far as to tell his only true friend, Lamar, to go fuck himself because he's content with his social standing. At the end of the game, Franklin's become a Howard Hughes-eque hermit who lives in his posh villa in the Vinewood Hills, alone. As for Trevor, well... just fucking look at him. He is forever doomed to be this perpetually monstrous sadist who doesn't care about anyone or anything except detruction. That can be destruction of enviroment, destruction of others, and most definitely destruction of self, it doesn't matter, whatever keeps the ride going. All the while, the player is forced to navigate through the hellish landscape, gaining all the shit they could possibly carry, but still being left out in the cold as all this material crap only ever leaves you wanting more.

Now, none of that really argues that the characters are consistent, but in that regard, I simply say 'apples and oranges.' Trevor, while charismatic and charming in his own way, never struck me as anything but a psychotic animal, with the torture scene being a definite high point. Michael desperately trying to keep Trevor satisfied and yet still at arms length seemed natural enough to me, and Franklin's contradictory nature felt perfectly in line with a guy who seems to be all about seeking the highest quality of life with the lowest way possible and hypocritically damning anyone who is just kind of content. Another thing about Trevor is that I think he represents the masculine power fantasist that plays this game taken to its most twisted conclusion. Trevor is the light at the end of a hellish tunnel.

In my humble opinion, Grand Theft Auto V is the most single most expensive piece of trolling ever made, and I love Rockstar for it.

Because i found Tommy Vercetti to be such a sweet loveable guy, odd how people say they don't like gta4 but they bring it up, Gta vice city had you going around killing people, doing drug deals and random jobs for mob bosses, how is it so different

Michael, as clearly stated, isn't in it for the money, he's in it because he hates retirement and only really feels alive when he's doing what he's good at. That's not an inconsistent motive, it's just clearly one you can't personally relate to.
Franklin has known his hood buddies most of his life. I'm pretty sure everybody here can honestly say that if they were faced with the opportunity to leave their childhood friends behind for any sum of money, they'd be hesitant to do so. Yeah, Franklin wants out of the hood life and he thinks his friends are childish gangbanging idiots. But they're still his damn friends and he's still loyal to them.
Trevor is...well...Trevor. Michael and Brad were the only friends he ever had, on account of him being too reprehensible to like, and you wrote that Michael can't seem to decide whether to kill Trevor or be friends with him - What if he tried to kill Trevor and failed? Do you think that Michael or any of his family would survive Trevor's retaliation? Just shooting Trevor clearly doesn't work, Debra had him at gunpoint and he was unarmed and somehow he was entirely unharmed, and I'll bet Michael's seen Trevor face worse.

It's a mix of absolute terror and the vague relics of loyalty between Trevor and Michael.

Kolyarut:

MaddKossack115:
It's certainly a lot better than most of the "spunkgargleweewee" crap where you play an emotionless soldier gunning down foreigners/alien monsters (with frankly little difference in characterization between the opposing forces) and committing "gritty" war crimes (such as the part where you shove a glass shard into a victims mouth, and punching it around the inside of his gums), and still told you're the good guy because you "fight for the good guys", or "all the guys you're shooting are EEEEEE-VILLLLL!!!", without giving legitimate motivations for why you're good, and why they're evil, apart from stock political talking points.

Not sure if you've played the CoD game where that torture scene takes place, but that's an incredible oversimplification of what goes on in it. The game doesn't paint clear good/evil lines (the entire game revolves around a character who's the victim of some fairly horrible brainwashing), and there's no suggestion at all that the characters performing the torture are good guys. They are trying to prevent a nerve gas attack on civilians, so the stakes are high, but it's left to the player to decide if the stakes can ever possibly be high enough to justify it.

People complain a lot about Call of Duty but that post seemed like really unfair criticism of a story that was a lot better than people give it credit for.

I was making a more general observation with Triple-A action games in general (Call of Duty, Battlefield, Gears of War, Medal of Honor, a bunch of no-name generic titles that fall through the cracks, etc.), in that the only motivation for the characters is basically parroting political talking points rather than form actual character arcs. Also, while you're right in saying the characters in Black Ops aren't exactly defined as classically "good", it's not the same way as the characters in GTA V - in the Black Ops torture scene (which is done by the character who WAS NOT brainwashed, FYI), they justify it with the "ticking timebomb" scenario that Jack Bauer used time and time again, to the point the dean of West Point told the producers of the show to knock it off because it was giving recruits the absolute wrong idea of how interrogation works. When Trevor does it, it's purely, unapologetically for the opportunity to inflict pain on somebody, and even tells the victim to be an advocate for torture as entertainment, not torture as a way to consistently get information.

The characters of CoD and other "spunkgargleweewee" games are bad people in being, supposedly, "well-intentioned extremists", who need to do bad things to stop worse things from happening to good people.

The characters of GTA V are bad people either to make a lot of money, or to get rid of somebody trying to kill/arrest them (either by doing favors for them or, well, just killing them).

Not that the "well-intentioned extremist" character can't be done right (Price and Soap in the original Modern Warfare are probably the ones who do it the best out of all the CoD games), but a lot of "spunkgargleweewee" games don't get it right because their actions are either disproportionate to the problem, or completely unnecessary (going back to the Black Ops example, the guy you were torturing doesn't help you because you punched glass around his jaw, but because his Russian paymasters were sending a KGB force to kill him, and he wasn't going to let them kill him if he had the opportunity to fight his way out), and it's not for the point of highlighting the real problems so much as it is looking "faux-dark and gritty" in the hopes it looks smarter than it really is.

GTA V, in stark comparison, hits the ultimately selfish motivations of their characters right on the head, by admitting that they're bad people with no real reason to commit half the things they do. Not much of an improvement compared to a character that is legitimately compelling in his own right, but it beats the low-bar standards the industry has set themselves to.

Edit:
All that said, I do admit that Black Ops is definitely one of the more intriguing and better written COD stories, and certainly heads and shoulders over the sub-par crap riding the War on Terror/Neo-Cold War sentiments. But the problem is that, in spite of being some of the better writing in the genre, it's still not good writing overall, especially where characters are concerned. Sure, Mason and his squadmates are at least tolerably amusing as "just-entertaining-enough-not-to-be-completely-generic-marines", but we get even less of a character development arc out of any of them than the most basic interpretations of the GTA V protagonists (and Yahtzee's summary of them in his video review is as base as basic can get, not to mention skewed and glossing over lots of fine points).

Well while we can argue semantics, and plot devices, and character arcs, motivation, immersion, and so forth, I think the actual glaring issue is that GTA V's writers just AREN'T VERY GOOD.

Caricatures rather than characters, inconsistent behavior, contradictory behavior, cliches and stereotypes rather than idiosyncrasies. It feels to me like they just threw a bunch of story ideas in a blender and then pasted the bits back together willy-nilly.

And if that was the intention, it bloody well worked for me, but I don't think it was, not fully. I've heard a lot of other people make the case that Trevor is intended to be a representation of the behaviour an average player shows when set loose in a sandbox game. A depiction that makes sense when he's being portrayed more as a sort of amoral free-spirited rogue, but not in the moments when he is merely nasty. A player, released in the sandbox and free of consequences, is reckless and whimsical, not cruel. They might kill someone if they're in the way or because they fly off in a hilarious manner, but prolonged and calculated torture isn't the same. It's just not as funny. The protagonist of Saint's Row IV better represents a sandbox player to my mind, because they have charisma; the satire works because they are an idealized self to match the idealized morals of the sandbox, whereas Trevor is an ugly monster.

GREAT ARTICLE ......... AND THANKS ESPECIALLY FOR THIS TREVOR BIT !

I personally was a huge fan of Trevor, in the same way as I'm a huge fan of George Costanza, the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Gang, Vegeta, and Kratos. There's something hugely satisfying about a totally amoral bastard with no redeeming qualities that the medium actually plays up to properly rather than constantly trying to justify what a prick they are. It's why every sensible person loves shows like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and shows like Anger Management makes people want to lock Charlie Sheen in a room with Trevor and a box of plumbing equipment.

That said, people who are trying to justify the torture level are just being fucking idiots. Sure, Trevor went on this big spiel about how torture doesn't work and it's solely for the torturer, but if that was the case, why the hell did the writers make it so that Trevor got the exact information that Ryan Reynolds lookalike was after, and never bring up the existence of Mr. K again?

It's because the satire in GTA games has always been thick as brickshit, like those stupid Republican Space Rangers vignettes. Every satirical character and vignette in the game's in on their own joke, but act's like a dumbass anyway. It'd be like if Randy Marsh bought shares in Bernie Madoff's next investment firm while saying "boy I'm sure a dumbass for pumping Stan and Shelly's college education money into this old Jew's company."

Or basically every episode of Family Guy.

I like GTA for it's Three Stooges style approach to black humor and crime operations, engaging missions, numerous ways you can fuck things up for yourself, equally numerous ways to come out on top, and assuming you play without auto targeting, a reason to use everything in the game. The satire was never any good, and started getting Family Guy esque with San Andreas.

I still can't believe GTA V had two of the same three writers as Red Dead Redemption. That game had spectacular writing. Was Christian Cantamessa just that spectacular enough to make up for what shitty writers Dan Houser and Michael Unsworth are?

Maybe I've just gotten too old, but I don't feel anything but revulsion for the line-up in GTA V. I haven't derived any pleasure from watching the "story-arcs" of these three horses-asses as they flip-flop throughout the oozing plot. The loss of free-agent in the torture scene did nothing to really propel the story forward and only made me wince in discomfort. If it was intended to be satire, well it failed on me. That isn't necessarily wrong of them to fail at humoring and entertaining, but it does give me license to object to the poor construction of characters and plot. Though despicable, I felt that Vercetti, CJ and Niko were still characters one could relate too on a very base-level. Each had scores of antagonistic showdowns that I felt, continued to up the ante. That kept driving the descent into a despairing pit of utter corruption.

Also, nobody buys umbrellas up here. It's nothing but a waste, and the umbrella vendor would be broke within one week into the winter rainy season.

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