Hello gamers and welcome to day four of week thirteen in our 100 reviews in 100 days countdown!
Causing a stir in the #37 spot…
So…Okay. I’ve been looking forward to and dreading this moment. I have the opportunity to go on a truly epic rant about the Grand Theft Auto series. On the other hand, I have to resist the urge to just write “Fuck this game”over and over for this entire review. I’ll be honest, I’m not really interested in walking you through the nuances of Grand Theft Auto III. Why? Because there aren’t any. If there’s one thing that Grand Theft Auto as a series is really short on, it’s nuance and depth. What we have here is nothing less than the poster child for pointless violence in gaming in the modern era. Notice how I’m saying pointless and not extreme or severe? There’s a reason for that. I freaking love extreme violence. I love to see shit blowing up and bodies flying around and people stabbing each other with big fucking swords while being eaten alive by honey badgers that haven’t eaten since last Thursday. All that stuff is great. As long as there’s a point. And there is no point to the violence in Grand Theft Auto. None. I know they have story modes, but the Grand Theft Auto player base gives zero fucks about them. I’ll steal a line from an article on violence in gaming I wrote a couple of months ago: “These games are masturbatory murder fantasies.” Period, end of discussion. They cater to the most base, lizard-brainy urges humanity has. And I think that sucks. There’s no emotional resonance in these games beyond the tingly feeling one gets in their bits when they know they’re breaking the rules, and I’m sorry, but that’s not enough. There’s nothing else to make you care. If there is, I sure as shit haven’t heard about it. And the saddest thing about this is that Rockstar proved they were capable of so much more with Red Dead Redemption. I’ve had people tell me that game literally moved them to tears, so it’s not like they don’t have the chops to give us the goods. But rather than try to tell a compelling story about crime, justice, consequence, revenge or anything pertinent, they gave us “Hey, you can shoot cops with a rocket launcher!!! WOOTWOOT!!!!” Ugh. Just…Ugh.
EIGHT HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS OF “BUUUUUH”
I’m aware, by the way, that I’m shouting at the wind here. Grand Theft Auto V sold $800 million in it’s first day of release. Just to put that in perspective for you, the original Star Wars has earned $775 million and change since its release in fucking 1977. Grand Theft Auto did more in a day than Luke and Han have done in forty years. God, that’s so depressing. So clearly there are a ton of people out there that disagree with my assessment of these games. Rockstar might as well just be printing money as well as these damn games sell, and I’ll be the first to say that they’d be insane to stop making them. Hell, for $800 million, I’d make whatever you wanted, principles be damned. As our great philosopher, Ted Dibiase, once said (You’re god damn right I’m making a Million Dollar Man reference), everyone has their price, and while I’m not sure what mine is, I’m pretty positive $800 mil would cover it. And I will concede that, for the first time, Grand Theft Auto V did include a story mode that was actually decent. But in my jaded little head that is ever so full of hate and cynicism, I look at those sales figures and think “Well, nobody ever lost money by catering to the lowest common denominator.” Clearly there are millions of people who are buying these games, even though I couldn’t tell you why if you stuck a freaking gun in my face. I’d rather spend my $60 on anything else.
SAVE YOUR HATE MAIL
Or don’t. When I get hate mail, I grade it on punctuation, grammar, coherence, and originality. Then I send it back. So if you’re looking for someone to edit your hate-filled ranting at no charge, uh, I guess I’m your guy. Look, if you like these games, honestly, good for you. I’m happy that you can see something in them that I can’t. I have to believe that’s what’s happening here, because I just refuse to believe that we’re living in a world populated by people who, at the end of the day, really just want to slaughter pedestrians with a sub-machine gun while they run over a dog. Realistically, all my ranting and stupid jokes aside, it’s more than likely that I simply can’t get past the hyper violent surface of Grand Theft Auto to see if there’s anything of actual substance underneath. Maybe there is. Hell, there probably is. I just can’t see it because I’m stuck on this one element of them that I can’t stand. I think of these games the same way I think of Las Vegas; a bright, shiny, loud, incoherent mess of pointless sex and violence. Something that’s interesting and appealing at first glance but when you actually look at it, it makes your skin crawl. Maybe that’s unfair of me. I’ll concede that. But I’m not going to sit here and feed you a bullshit line about how I think these games push boundaries, or fight censorship, or whatever. There are other games out there that really are doing that, and doing a better job of it. The Witcher series and the Borderlands franchise pop immediately to mind, the former pushing the boundaries of story and character (while still containing some really kick ass combat and mature, sexual themes that actually work in context of the story), while Borderlands is seeing just how absolutely psychotic they can get while still making a game that’s coherent and fun.
So, if you were hoping for a review of Grand Theft Auto III here, sorry. I know you didn’t get that. But honestly, you don’t need it. If you’ve played one of these, you’ve played all of them. The only difference between them is improvements to graphics and mechanics as the series has gone on. I’ll leave you with a 2 out of 5 here. Not because I actually think Grand Theft Auto deserves the 2 points, but because I’m admitting I might be the one who’s wrong.