So, a new trailer for Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V came out this week, and it looks fantastic. Every frame is filled with the kind of expansive, anything-goes gameplay that has been the series’ calling card since the release of Grand Theft Auto III way back in 2001. In fact, the game looks like so much fun that it makes me wonder if this will be the first GTA game that I actually finish.
That’s right. I’ve never completed the story mode in a single GTA game, despite having sunk plenty of hours into III, Vice City, San Andreas and IV. And I’m an OCD gamer who will play any game I even moderately enjoy through to finish. The storytelling involved in one of the primary reasons I play videogames to begin with, and it’s hard to enjoy the story being told if you never hear the ending. Hell, I blew through Read Dead Redemption, the gritty GTA-esque open-world western from Rockstar, in a few weeks, constantly firing up the old Xbox 360 just to see what would happen to John Marston next.
But with the GTA series, I’ve never felt compelled to close things out. Why? Could be a number of reasons I suppose, the most obvious being the stories being told never gripped me enough to ensure I wanted to see how things wrapped up. I can say with certainty that none of the GTA plotlines grabbed me in the same way Redemption‘s did, perhaps because Redemption‘s story was played razor straight while the GTAs are usually awash in a specific brand of heavy-handed satire that’s never really won me over. I also found RDR to offer more of a cohesive narrative, whereas the GTAs are often extremely episodic with the focus of the story shifting dramatically every time you open up a new part of the world or meet a new mission-giving character.
There’s also the matter of the GTA games offering too much good stuff to do that exists outside of the main story. (We’ll call it “Elder Scrolls syndrome.”) I found the dialed-down antics of GTA IV to be mostly a drag (no parachutes, more realism overall) but still had a ball stealing cop cars to track down the most wanted criminals in the area. I’d abandoned the primary storyline for multiple play sessions in a row just to go after bad guys on the lam.
With GTA: San Andreas, my favorite of the series thus far, it was all about exploring the countryside and seeing how much fun I could have outside city limits. How many times did I drive a motorcycle to the top of the tallest hill and jump off just to see what would happen? More that I’d care to admit. I was also a fan of the “gang wars” mechanic that had me conquering and defending territory, which led to big in-game profits. I think San Andreas was the GTA I got the furthest in, advancing all the way to the Las Venturas section of the game, but I still ended up abandoning the main story in favor of all the game’s side offerings.
I know we’ve all blown hours upon hours — throughout the entire series — raising our wanted level as high as we could get it and then seeing how long we could elude authorities. Every new installment brings new vehicles, new weapons, updated NPC AI and a host of other improvements that makes being a bad guy on a rampage a brand new (and always awesome) experience.
Grand Theft Auto V features three main characters instead of one, with their stories intertwining throughout the game. Maybe that’s the mechanic that gets me to finally see one of these things through to the end. Or perhaps the heist-heavy campaign, which evolved from one of GTA IV‘s more memorable sequences, will be so much fun that I won’t be able to rest until I complete every single mission.
Or maybe I’ll just be content to race dune buggies, go scuba diving, customize all my cars, repeatedly crash planes into mountains and never learn what befalls the game’s protagonists.
Actually, yeah … probably that.
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