When I set out to write my first impressions of Grand Theft Auto V yesterday, I was prepared to just barely scratch the surface with only a few hours of gameplay, but at least get a good feel for it. What I wasn’t prepared for was to find out that I also needed the evening to, at bare minimum, just ever so softly make a barely visible abrasion into the depths of this thing. Because what I had in the afternoon amounted to an ant fart on the surface of a frozen lake. (Read: I still haven’t found a hooker.) So after getting in some more playtime – I’m at about 4-5% and haven’t even found the third playable character yet. – here are my initial thoughts which if you’re strapped for time amount to BUY IT. BUY IT NOW.
HOW I PLAY
For the record, here’s historically how I play any GTA game:
1. On Playstation.
2. With the exception of III, I never finish them.
3. I don’t do mini-games or races.
4. Hidden packages? MUST. FIND. THEM. ALL.
5. The second the missions get too tedious, and I’m riding around on an impossible to control motorcycle chasing another guy on a motorcycle (i.e. the third island on IV), I tap out and never touch the thing again.
I bring a lot of expertise and technical skill to the table is what I’m trying to say here.
HOT BUTTON CONTROVERSIES!
There’s an easy to trot out media, and even more unfortunate police, narrative out there that video games are turning people into killers. (Looking at you, Ed Schultz.) And until this game, I would’ve aggressively disagreed with this bullshit, scapegoat theory for reasons I’ll get into later. But then I had to wait 15 minutes for GTA V‘s one-time installation and suddenly found myself calling Whole Foods and asking if they carry an organic line of gluten-free assault rifles. They do not.
FUCK ME, THIS GAME IS BEAUTIFUL
While navigating the first mission/tutorial, you eventually burst out into the outdoors where you’re slapped in the face with just how amazingly detailed the graphics engine is going to be, and you’re not even in the main city of Los Santos yet. And by Los Santos I mean an insanely intricate recreation of LA that made me want to go on a real, live killing spree by reminding me I’m on the exact opposite coast of an In-N-Out Burger, so another point for you, scapegoat theorists. I’m man enough to admit that. Anyway, while driving around the city like a drunken maniac and launching myself off cliffs, I eventually crashed into the ocean which literally snapped me back in my seat when instead of a murky, blue horseshit, I’m hit with sunlight peering through the waves and illuminating beautiful, colorful fish. Which I then tried to shoot.
Nothing will ever compare to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but this is a distant second. A far, distant second, but the Phil Collins is a nice touch even though it will never compare to hearing “Broken Wings” while gunning someone down on a golf cart. It’s like seeing the birth of your first child, but more awesome because it doesn’t poop into a shit-pouch you then have to change.
THE SHATTERING OF MALAISE
During the first two missions of the game with Franklin, I started to worry that this would just be your standard GTA experience but with way better visuals. And then halfway through the third mission, the game kicks you in the dick and says, “You have no idea, tiny penis Internet man. Now make me a sandwich.”
I haven’t even got to Trevor yet, but so far the dynamic between Michael and Franklin has been a game-changer? – *contemplates gun violence again* – There’s a little frustration figuring out how to switch characters while driving during missions, and if said switch actually worked, but it adds a whole new.. level to the game? *shops for assault rifles online*
After the first two, the missions become varied and creative as fuck. From a highway rescue to exacting revenge to the random assassination of a fictionalized version of a pretty prominent person (Keep in mind, I’ve done maybe 6 or 7, tops.), they’re all over the map goddammit why am I so punny today?!
THE LITTLE TOUCHES
There are a constant barrage of tiny little touches throughout the game which I probably missed a bunch of, but so far my favorite have been the ability to slide across the hood of your car Dukes of Hazzard-style, being able to pause during a cutscene (When you gotta piss, you gotta piss.), people’s reactions to you jacking their car (I shit you not, my first was a black woman who looked right at me and went, “WHAT THE FUCK?!”), a parody of Facebook called “Lifeinvader,” and one for Call of Duty called “Righteous Slaughter.” Which seems rich coming from Grand Theft Auto of all games, but that’s damn good satire.
THE iFRUIT APP
I downloaded it, but all day yesterday (and still today) the Rockstar Social Club was down, so I have no idea how the real-life counterpart works. As for in the game, I hated the cellphone in GTA IV, fucking HATED it, but it’s amazing how five years later using a smartphone in GTA V feels perfectly natural and non-intrusive. Also, I used it to take a picture of this fine woman’s ass because I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but the graphics are fuck-mazing.
CATHARTIC WISH FULFILLMENT
Let’s get, briefly, serious for a second. What makes Grand Theft Auto work, and this iteration exponentially more than its predecessor, is its strive for realism. Which sounds ridiculous considering it’s also a game where you’re a gangster who can steal cars at whim, indiscriminately murder civilians and survive crashes, gunshots and explosions, but here’s the rub: While you’re doing all that stuff everything looks and moves real as shit. As you drive to locations, it is almost a perfect simulation of driving except you get to experience the visceral thrill of going 90 mph, not stopping at red lights, smashing into cars driving way too low, and my personal favorite, deliberately clipping anyone on a Vespa because fuck those people. Even better, you get to use your smartphone while driving and so what if you rear end somebody? It’s just like everything you get to do in real life but with the added pleasure of not giving a fuck. Which is why I’d safely say most people are not being inspired to commit mass shootings after playing Grand Theft Auto as much as they’ve just unleashed a load of stress that they can’t in real life. It’s practically medicinal, and I will fight the AMA in a tank until they fucking agree with me because this game also taught me how to debate, so suck it.
BANGING HOOKERS IN A FIGHTER JET: A TALE OF SADNESS
For $60 of my hard penis joke money, I was hoping GTA V would at least afford me the luxury of soliciting a prostitute in a fighter jet which you can commandeer in the game. Or at least you theoretically can because it entails sneaking onto a military base and not getting your dick blown off en route to the cockpit. And then after that, not getting shot out of the sky by an RPG as you take off and send your Wanted level through the roof. So needless to say, it’ll be hard to make a hooker feel safe while the National Guard tries to bulldoze you in the anus. Which takes away all the realism of the game because what’s a more natural transaction than coercing a woman into sex while piloting a death machine? “Excuse me, night walker? Would you kindly fellate me in this fighter jet? I have money.” BOOM. Simple as that.
AND FINALLY QUESTIONS
Which nobody asked me…