Grand Theft Auto V – The Rageaholic

In the developmental pitri dish that was Grand Theft Auto 4, there was perhaps no more potent contagion than the game’s tendency to take itself… WAY too fucking seriously. With extremely worthy contenders to its sandbox crime drama crown materializing in the form of Sleeping Dogs and the last two exceptional entries in the Saints Row franchise, frankly… that was high ground Rockstar could no longer justify its morbid impulse to cling to. While GTA5 still features more than a handful of needlessly sappy, quasi-pretentious interludes, I’m happy to report that this game also sees the rebirth of BATSHIT.

Skydiving on an ATV, piloting government jets, getting higher than Peter Molyneux’s forehead and mowing down ceaseless waves of hallucinatory homicidal clowns… Grand Theft Auto… is BACK, motherfucker! And I, for one, missed the shit out of you, GTA! Don’t be a stranger! Though the most ‘significant’ change… is ‘significant’ only at first glance. My first thought upon hearing of the addition of three individual player characters you’re usually able to switch between on-the-fly was to suspect that it would present lucrative opportunities for non-euclidian narrative experimentation. Hell, with 3 separate characters, each with their own unique story, occasionally intersecting with those of their counterparts… well shit… how could you not weave a rich, billowing tapestry of player choice and customizable narrative? I’ll tell you how. You could be fucking Rockstar. The Grand Vizier of ‘playing it safe’. “I want you to know I practice safe sex.” “So do I.” The studio that has slovenly rehashed the same haggard, cliché-bespeckled ‘Dark Side of the American Dream’ parable for five successive entries and half a dozen spin-offs.

Linearity is no longer a lamentable byproduct of GTA’s open-world sandbox structure… it is officially a calculated, and let’s come right the fuck out with it, INEXCUSABLY FUCKING LAZY design choice! Want to progress the story? Switch to the character whose icon is flashing to tackle said mission and progress the story in ‘connect-the-dots’ fucking fashion. A gilded cage… is still a fucking cage, Rockstar.

As for the three characters, I can summarize them in fairly short order: Trevor is what happens when Rockstar’s head writer watches too much Breaking Bad. “Fuck… YOU! AND your eyebrows!” Franklin is what happens when they watch too much ‘The Wire’. “Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.” And Michael is what happens when they remember they’re making a Grand Theft Auto game. And apparently, Rockstar are huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge Breaking Bad fans, because unless you’re rockin Trevor, it is exceptionally likely that the two most frequently recurring items on your itinerary will be ‘nothing’ and ‘like it’.

“I want a hot dog, I want a milkshake–” “YOU’LL GET NOTHING AND LIKE IT!” Particularly poor, neglected-ass Franklin, who might have had potential to be my favorite character, if Rockstar had seen fit to give him anything at all to fuckin’ do! We get it! Trevor’s a ‘loose cannon’! A ‘free spirit’! ‘He plays by his own rules!’ But Rockstar, it is of paramount importance that – as you feverishly fellate this character until he leaves a glans shaped impression on your tonsils – you occasionally come up for goddamn air! Sure, Trevor’s a badass! But I can dress Michael up to look exactly like Michael Douglas in Black Rain, so give me something to fuckin’ do with him! “Fuck you very much.” But all of these issues…

Minor as they admittedly are… are fucking secondary… to the 900-pound simian pinching turds on the dining room table. Who… in seven adjacent galaxies… chose the last two miserable fucking GTA soundtracks?! “AAAAGGGHHHHHH! THIS MUSIC’S ALL WRONG!” [‘Foreigner – Cold as Ice’ plays] “THAT’S what I’m lookin’ for!” It’s not just me. When the track list was leaked a month ahead of the game, I can count the positive comments on one amputated hand. This shit isn’t just subpar for GTA… it’s subpar for Saints fuckin’ Row! SAINTS ROW, people! The series that thinks twelve tracks of DevilDriver and As I Lay Dying constitutes a Metal radio station! I mean, at least they made a shitty, outdated attempt at a metal station.

You’ve fashioned a fictitious representation of Los Angeles – the birthplace of Hair Metal, and a city that (without even counting a half-dozen pirate stations) has at least one major Metal station, and no less than three Rock stations that predominately play Classic Metal! But does Los Santos have one? FUCK no! But at least the game has a FUNK station! Asshole, not only have I never heard a Funk station… I’ve never heard of a Funk Station! I ask again, who picked this fucking soundtrack, and what is their obsession with Phil Collins, Stevie Nicks and Queen?! And this malaise isn’t reserved for Rock, either.

The Pop songs are banal, even by Pop standards! 5 games and still you’ve used just one Peter Gabriel song?! And it was only in DLC?? Where’s Billy fucking Ocean? Where’s Dale Bozzio? Where’s a Michael Jackson song that isn’t featured on ‘Bad’ or ‘Thriller’? After three straight soundtracks that set trends, literally defining the musical taste of an entire generation of gamers, watching radio stations in subsequent iterations gradually disintegrate into the same, vapid shit we’ve heard played over car commercials for the past 15 fuckin’ years is a miserable disgrace. You aren’t resting on your laurels. You’re locked down in your kraftmatic with a big gulp, a fistful of cheez-its and Maury Povich re-runs! And, with all of two talk radio stations at your disposal as an alternative to the shitty tunes, it further has the lamentable gameplay-related side-effect of turning the mere act of driving into a full-on fuckin’ chore.

Tangerine Dream’s original score for the game may well be the best in the entire series… so get off your ass, doff the fuckin’ sweatpants, and give this superb game the soundtrack it fucking deserves! But I’m equally emphatic in my assertion that, where GTA5 is concerned, there is far more to be impressed with than to be bothered by. The cars no longer being constructed of tissue paper would be the top item on my list. Nothing was quite so frustrating in GTA4 as finally gaming the vehicle spawn system into handing you a bitchin’ sports car only to unwittingly tear the entire fucking fender off in a high-speed collision with a moth. Vehicular physics are still janky because Euphoria still fucking sucks, but being able to customize your ride to your heart’s content more than offsets this potential irritant. Literally every aspect of play, from motorcycle handling to mini-games to character customization to sheer mission variety has been shorn of all fat and pulled tighter than Bruce Jenner’s cheeks.

Everything, that is, exceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeept for helicopter flight! Pop quiz, guys and gals and gender-nonspecific minorities: However do you compound the universe-rending awfulness that is helicopter flight in the first four Grand Theft Auto titles? ‘Build a bridge out of her!’ [Alex Trebek mumbling incoherently] What is ‘Devoting an entire character to the principle of flying the goofy, off-balance shit-heaps?’ And then repeatedly requiring the player to perform the aviation equivalent of threading a needle with a mosquito’s cock. How in fuck is Saints Row better than you at this– fuck, how is Saints Row better than you at anything under the yellow sun?! “Step your game up!’ For all the upgrades, RPG stat systems and impressively-fleshed-out mini-games, it’s impossible to escape the feeling that Grand Theft Auto V’s actual story is locked into a bit of a holding pattern.

We get it. Trying to get rich in America can occasionally suck. Tell another story, assface. Ever read the headlines out of Tijuana? Every day in Mexico is Grand Theft Auto fucking 6! Maybe flip the roles for once and let the player be a rogue cop! It would be one step closer to that open-world sandbox COBRA game I’ve been wanting to play ever since I drew my first fucking breath. Set it in 1985. Turn it into a parody of action films for all I care!. Just change it the fuck up once a decade or so, because while your gameplay pioneers new heights, your story is beginning to quote itself! Quoth the Razör: God – fuckin’ – SPEED! “What we need to indentify is a degree of authenticity and compassion in the way we deal with this problem. Otherwise, you just seem like you don’t know what you’re talking about.” “But CRIME–” “We’ve talked about that– you can tell what Party they’re in from their questions, innit?” “What about the VICTIMS of the crime?!” “THIS IS A JOKE WITH NO PUNCHLINE!!”.

As found on Youtube