Sure, like most people we were pretty impressed when the first Grand Theft Auto came out. It was something new, something exciting and pretty damn original. However, we'd be lying if we told you we played more than a quarter into the game, and we've never bothered to pick up a new installment since. After seeing the trailer for Grand Theft Auto 5, though, that may have to change.
When it comes to vehicular violence, we always enjoyed the Twisted Metal series more. Running over pedestrians has a lot more cache in those games. There you are just tooling around in your ice cream van launching missiles at your fellow demolition derby competitors when all of a sudden, someone just wanders into your windshield and explodes into a mist of blood while you don't even slow down.
Hell, in Twisted Metal 2 there was even a character whose reason for entering the contest was specifically to avenge the pedestrians who had died in the first game from being run over... and you can still run over people with that guy. So yeah, our lust for gore-streaked grills was already covered.
Then there was the whole hooker thing. Now, Art Attack hasn't worked in any part of the sex industry, not yet anyway, but we have come into contact with it a bit over the course of our 30 years. We've known two prostitutes, a pornographic performer and we used to deliver pizzas backstage to a strip club (ironically, horrible tippers). On top of that, our father once worked as a handyman in a brothel. What we're trying to say is that we're a little desensitized to the whole thing.
Finally, we just aren't a sandbox gamer. We prefer the Portal style gaming of set goals and ways to accomplish them. We like exploring, but in the end we want a fairly linear experience.
Even with all of those aspects of the GTA series coloring our prejudice, we think it's time to give the game another go based on the incredible trailer for the latest upcoming release.
Part of it is the narration. As an older person than the relatively carefree gamer we were ten years ago, the soliloquy on a desire to move up a little in the world, maybe send the kid off to a nice school rather than the Hogan's Alley we attended hits home. So when our narrator talks about wanting a piece of that West Coast magic to sprinkle around us, we pay attention.
But just like the narrator, it's hard to leave any kind of life of excitement behind, especially if that life has the promise of a fortune. Rockstar has already made it clear that the focus of GTA5 will be on the pursuit of the almighty dollar, and we're sure the idea of raiding society in order to climb up the ladder a bit has some appeal to a country still locked in economic woe and a recovery that moves like a snail on ether.
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It's clear that the game is promising a Scorsese-esque tale of being pulled back into a world of crime no matter what our protagonist's reformative intentions were. The whole thing plays as if someone had managed to do a brilliant sequel to Goodfellas where Henry Hill builds a mafia empire while still in the witness protection program. And just like Hill, we can tell that the fall from grace isn't so much a stumble as a slip with chagrin. It's like Blitzen Trapper said, "The devil works quick, you know it don't take long."
Increasingly video games are pushing the barriers between reality and fantasy in their graphics. It's not that we've reached the limit of what you can visually do in a video game, it's more that the steps forward become smaller and smaller. Where the real works of genius are coming now is in the abilities of game designers to create cinematic atmospheres that match the gaming experience. The clean lines in Portal, the oppressive art deco decay of BioShock, the period brilliance of L.A. Noire. It's in that area more than anything else that GTA5 looks to excel, and that may be what makes us shell out the cash to play.
Even back when an epic game involved characters with oversized heads and badly translated dialogue, we always considered gaming to be a storytelling experience. We thrill to be an interactive part of a plot, and modern releases deliver. We've always felt that the GTA series sacrificed focus for freedom, and maybe its latest work will continue that, but whatever is going on in Grand Theft Auto 5, we can tell that Rockstar is keen to create a chance for its customers to revel fully in a criminal experience with all the moral ambiguity and action that we expect after a steady diet of action films.
Maybe the game is right, and the lure of fast cars and big cash is just too tasty for us to fear the hook. We expect we'll buy into the action.