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    dkirschner's Grand Theft Auto V (PC)

    [May 17, 2018 04:21:44 PM]
    I used GTA V in my learning community this semester to teach deviance. After a lecture covering basic theory and concepts, I had students play GTA V for half an hour and answer questions about labeling theory, think about how norms, sanctions, and deviance differ in Los Santos vs. the real world, violate in-game norms and identify sanctions, and try to get a bunch of fake achievements I made up to get labeled deviant in various ways in the game. It was a ton of fun, and effective!

    I played the bare minimum to prepare for bringing the game to class (though most of them had played before) because I had to spend most of my time trying to get the thing to run smoothly on my laptop and through a classroom projector. I eventually did it well enough, hooray, but I still havenít got it running perfectly. Itíll get choppy sometimes while driving and shooting. It could just be that this is where my computer begins to show its age. Sigh. But now that the semester's over, I can go back through games I began for the learning community. According to Steam, I've clocked 33 hours, but it's realistically in the low 20s.

    GTA V is the best GTA. I played some of the older ones (San Andreas, Vice City), never all the way through a story, and mostly just for causing mayhem. I played GTA IV for about 10 hours and spent most of that time on the fake internet and watching fake in-game TV. Iím pleased to report that the fake internet and TV are even better this time around and that I have resisted watching all of that content, which I bet runs upward of 20 hours if you count radio stations too.

    Why is GTA V the best GTA? For me, itís the characters, missions, and overall narrative. GTA V does this cool thing where there are three main characters whose lives intertwine. You start with Franklin, a sarcastic, dry-humored, practical black man living with his aunt in a poor neighborhood in Los Santos. Then you meet Michael, a wealthy ex-con in witness protection with an extremely dysfunctional family. Franklin starts to work for Michael. Finally, my favorite, Trevor enters the picture. Trevor is quite literally insane. Heís part meth head and drug and weapons dealer, with a low-rent operation out of a trailer in the desert. He has a history with Michael, and all three of them wind up having to do jobs together for the FIB (GTAís FBI). Thereís some larger story going on about a shady corporation or something called Merryweather and a super weapon. Not sure about all that yet, but certainly intrigued.

    Each character is fleshed out, and it makes this story more than about stealing cars and killing people. Serious themes exist underneath the GTA parody about family, trust, speeding up of social life, consumerism, drug culture, etc., etc., and I dare say that not only the game as a whole (obviously), but the characters in particular, are real pieces of art. Franklinís relationship with his aunt, who is into spiritual femininity and magic crystals, is fraught because they simply donít understand one anotherís lives. His relationship with his dog is adorable. Michaelís family, as mentioned, is insane. His wife is trying to be calm in a fast-moving world and is cheating on him with her yoga instructor. One of the best scenes in the game so far is when Michael and his wife get into an argument, and the yoga instructor comes around and makes them do a family session together, so you, as Michael, have to do yoga, which of course, does nothing to calm anyone down. His daughter is vapid and wants to be a reality TV star. His son smokes weed and plays video games all day. They are all entitled. Michael really does see himself as a good guy, but heís surrounded by crazy people and pressured into crime, which he does enjoy and is good at. Trevor assaults and kills people at will, is secretly from Canada (and becomes enraged if people point out his accent), hates it when people call him a motherfucker, and in one memorable scene, becomes enraged when Michael describes how Trevor is a hipster, or at least what hipsters aspire to become. Trevor is currently dating a woman whom he kidnapped and does not see a problem with it.

    Gameplay wise, itís typical GTA, but missions are far more varied. This is exemplified by the heists, in which you put together a team (some combination of the three main characters and sometimes other NPCs) to do things like rob banks, rob trains, secure witnesses, or steal other huge items. These involve preparation missions where you observe a place, or acquire a getaway car, or do other tasks before the actual heist. For example, the last one I did was to rob a bank. I first scouted the bank and tested its alarm system to see how fast the police response was. It was very fast, and so I made the decision to shoot our way out. Then, I stole a military truck full of armor and weapons from a convoy to prepare for the shootout. Then, I stole a van for Franklin to use as the getaway vehicle. The other characters (Michael, Trevor, and one hired gun) hit the bank, stole the money, changed into full combat gear, and emerged guns blazing at a stunned police force. We shot our way through them, working our way toward Franklin in the getaway vehicle. I forget how or why this happened, but at some point someone stole a bulldozer to help clear the path of cops.

    Part of whatís so cool about heists is that you switch between characters to perform all their roles when they are doing things simultaneously (e.g., one character sniping from a rooftop, one causing a distraction, one stealing something). You do this during the game as well, switching between the three characters at will. They all have different jobs they can do, different contacts for missions, different properties they can purchase, different activities they can engage in, etc. And they so frequently weave together. Youíll go to do a mission as Franklin, and itíll turn out Michael orchestrated it. Or youíll go do something with Trevor, and the FIB agent in charge will want Franklin too.

    This plenty to write at the moment, but suffice it to say that there is so much more that GTA V offers. Tons of random events, side missions, activities (darts, races, Trevorís rampages, etc.) will keep a dedicated player busy for a really long time. This may be the last open world game you need for a long time. And I'm saying this almost 5 years after it came out. Oh, there's also GTA V Online. Will update again once I beat story mode with some good memories.

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    Status

    dkirschner's Grand Theft Auto V (PC)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 25 February, 2018

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Amazing so far, catchy story, open world, such detail.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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