I’m Free!

Happy Weekend TAY!

Over half an hour!

The credits for Grand Theft Auto Five are over half an hour in length (36 minutes according to the internet). This seemed to be the perfect topper to a game that excelled in wasting my time.

During the credits, they show you some wonderful fly-bys of interesting and beautiful locations in the game from angles you likely never saw. The game was gorgeous and I don’t know that I’ve played in a better-constructed world before. GTA V has a sense of solidity, scale, and life that is truly breathtaking (at least from a non-interactive sense).

And, it is a pity I didn’t have much fun at all in that amazing world.

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The story was passable, saved by Steven Ogg who voiced Trevor. I generally wished I was watching The Sopranos instead of most of the cutscenes, but Trevor had a few lines that had me laughing. I was always excited to switch to Trevor as the game gives the illusion that life keeps happening when you aren’t inhabiting the other characters. Interrupting Trevor’s life of debauchery made for some of the funniest moments in GTA V.

I didn’t like the game(s) much at all though. The driving was the best part and I appreciated the significant differences in the handling of the many vehicles but they rarely had me do anything fun with them. The most fun I could muster was tricking out my rides to the max and then hurtling down the roads as fast as I could...dodging in-and-out of traffic and squeezing through the tiny gaps between cars stopped in the intersections...until I finally t-boned some poor bastard. It’s ok to crash though, it doesn’t really matter.

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Then there is the combat. I LOVE that this game allows for first-person and the above mentioned “solidity” of GTA V’s world absolutely shines when viewed through the eyes of your character. Again though, Rockstar gives me all the ingredients for an amazing meal and I end up with a microwavable hamburger. Once I figured out a good combination of holding a controller in my left hand and using a mouse in my right, most of the first person combat was serviceable. (you people who played first-person on consoles without assisted aiming are saints...or masochists)

The enemy AI is pretty dumb and it is hard to die, so once you find some reasonable cover, you are rarely in danger. Death is also somewhat meaningless with frequent checkpoints during the missions; you can be fairly sloppy and still muddle through to the end. On top of all that, I rarely went shopping for guns until the last few missions when it was clear the vast amounts of riches I had acquired were not going to be useful elsewhere. It’s ok though, it doesn’t matter.

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And that was ultimately my problem with GTA V, nothing mattered. Totalling your car didn’t matter, just steal another one...it’s ok though, the citizens and police rarely even care. Died in combat? It doesn’t matter. You are just put back a little bit and know what is coming up so you’ll be better prepared...and if you get sick of that, it’s ok...when you die two more times, the game will ask you if you want to SKIP TO THE NEXT CHECKPOINT?!

I never used the skip and I think apathy killed me most often as it left me unprepared for the occasional times the game presented an actual challenge. It was very strange to have so few consequences in an open-world, GTA V really lacks in excitement more than most open-world games I’ve played.

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It was a frustrating experience. I absolutely adored the engine and had a great time being able to stroll around that world. One night in the rain, I left a shop to see the lights reflecting off rain-rippled puddles and I swear I could smell the city; the illusion was that good. Problem was, the thrill of just walking around the city wears thin quickly and when I went looking for game, I never found anything I wanted.

With $6 billion in revenue and 90 million copies sold, it is hard to argue with Rockstar’s ability to appeal to a wide range of people, especially with an M-rating. GTA V certainly is a thing of beauty, but it felt very hollow.

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...it also made me a lot more nervous about Red Dead Redemption 2.

I’ve been playing a little Renegade Ops after GTA V when I’ve had a chance during this busy week. It seems to be a great little twin-stick shooter and is good for clearing my head so I don’t carry any baggage from GTA V to my next adventure. I imagine I’ll play a few more rounds of Renegade Ops during the weekend, while I figure out what game I feel like committing to next.

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I hope I can also get in some more Breath Of The Wild with my kid this weekend. We just finished our first Divine Beast last week and had a great time figuring out the puzzles together. I’m definitely much more impressed with the game than I ever thought I would be.

So, what are you playing this weekend?