Grand Theft Boredom
Grand Theft Auto V is the latest in the wildly popular GTA series. It took 5 year, cost Â£170 million ($270 million) to produce and has been touted as the soaring swan song of the current gaming generation. It earned over $1 billion dollars in sales in less than a week, and has been an almost permanent fixture on my news feed since it came out. And I couldn’t care less.
Now itâ€™s worth noting at this point that I have no particular objection to GTA V or the Grand Theft Auto series as a whole. Iâ€™ve played various games in the series of a number of occasions and had a reasonable amount of fun. I donâ€™t have any objection to any of the issues, themes or events explored in the game. And I have absolutely no doubt that what Rockstar has built is a staggering technical achievement. But GTA as a whole has always left me a little unexcited. More like Grand Theft Boredom, am I right?
Ultimately, I think it just comes down to my preferences as a gamer. GTA has always been a series that prided itself on its realistic worlds, albeit ones shown through a warped and somewhat satirical lens. Â But never the less, theyâ€™re games based in exaggerated versions of real world environments, with characters firmly mired in day to day concerns. Granted, theyâ€™re the day to day concerns of would be criminals, but still. Whereas when I play a game, I want something totally fantastic. That is to say, constructed entirely from fantasy. I want to slay demons, headshot zombies, and fend off an alien invasion with nothing more than my wits and a sharp stick. My feelings of ambivalence extend to other quasi-realistic game series, Call of Duty or anything involving sports all spark the same lack of interest.
In fact in many ways, my issues with CoD, gamingâ€™s other behemoth, are similar to those I have with GTA. Both present a supposedly realistic world, and then litter it with glaring inaccuracies. Whether itâ€™s regenerating health in CoD, or GTAâ€™s notoriety system, I find the obvious disparity between actions and consequence jarring in a setting Iâ€™m otherwise supposed to be totally invested in. Saints Row is a series that draws a lot of comparisons to GTA (or it did, until the whole â€˜weaponised rubber phallusâ€™ thing), but I prefer that series as a whole, and especially the second title, to its more legitimate former competitor. Saints Row throws you into a completely ridiculous world filled with over the top characters, environments and situations. Therefore you are free to react accordingly. I had a wonderful time running around in Saints Row 3 fighting SWAT teams with a pair of submachine guns that fired incendiary bullets. It was stupid and nonsensical and as a direct consequence I didnâ€™t find it odd that one car chase later every law enforcement officer in the city had forgotten who I was.
Regardless, it seems fairly clear that my apathy for Rockstarâ€™s flagship title is not a popular opinion. In addition to the $1 billion earned in three days, the game had 10/10 reviews coming out of its behind. And Iâ€™m not saying thatâ€™s wrong. As I said, the game is an incredible technical achievement, and though I havenâ€™t experienced the story for myself yet plenty of people much smarter than me have been singing its praises. And for all my objections to the game, I suspect that Iâ€™ll end up picking up a copy before too long, even if I wait for the inevitable GotY edition. But in the meantime, Iâ€™ll be holding off the inhuman hordes with a sledgehammer. Or if that fails, a weaponsied rubber phallus.