Last week a very important and anticipated event took place. No, it wasn’t Apple’s release of the iPhone – that was a classic case of selling last year’s tech at this year’s premium prices. I’m referring to the real news, to the release of GTA V. This was probably the most anticipated game of 2013. It has seen huge sales in the very short time it has been available and it seems people just can’t get enough of it. I haven’t had the pleasure of playing it myself yet but it is on my “to do” list. The release and huge success this game has seen so far caused me to ponder on a question. What is it that has made the GTA franchise so popular?
I think there are a number of reasons for this. First of all the game world is huge and lets you roam around freely with very little restrictions. You’re not bound to the story line and can take your sweet time exploring every nook and cranny. There are many games which offer this sort of freedom but I think that in the case of GTA this level of freedom is particularly well done and implemented. Unfortunately there are also a lot of games were the freedom to roam is artificial and masked by the action. A case in point is Gears of War Judgement. While it’s a brilliant game, you always end up locked up in one area till you’ve slaughtered all the bad guys. GTA in contrast gives you a whole city to explore as and when you like.
That brings me to my next point. In each GTA game, Rockstar have given us a familiar environment and due to the realism we can often identify directly with it. I first encountered the GTA franchise with GTA 3, but my favourite so far has been GTA Vice City. I grew up in the 80s and this particular game really got me hooked because of its setting and especially the music. In each of the games I’ve played it has oddly been a pleasure to drive around and explore the city, to have the radio playing in the background, heading to the coast and enjoying the view. It’s weird, I’m sure it sounds boring, but at the same time I’m sure many of you out there have done the same thing.
No GTA game is complete without its seedier side. Each of the games involves crime, drugs and all the other ugly things that pop up in modern society. Strangely enough I think this is another major attraction of the franchise. You can’t ignore that these elements of modern society exist, and GTA shoves them right in your face and encourages you to get involved – you can’t finish the game without getting involved anyway! I think the attraction here is that we all like the idea of being a bit “naughty” and getting away with it. Let’s be honest here, it’s human nature and GTA provides an avenue for exploring these aspects of society without any real harm being done.
All these elements are combined with an interesting story to make a game which is unbelievably addictive. In the ‘90s the term “interactive movie” was thrown around a lot for certain games like Lucas Art’s Rebel Assault. To be honest they never really managed to achieve that goal and most of the games were linear and tightly scripted. When I think of the GTA games though, the idea of the “interactive movie” continuously comes to mind and I realise that what Rockstar has achieved through the combination of these elements is a true “interactive movie”.
That’s the attraction – these games let you take part in your own movie. There’s adventure, crime and a little comedy too and it all takes place in world you can relate to. From the reviews I’ve read and the game play footage I’ve seen it looks like Rockstar have done it gain with GTA V. I’m sure many of you would agree with me but it would be great to hear from readers with other ideas. All opinions and thoughts are welcome and I’d really like to know what you love or hate about the GTA series.