The Grand Theft Auto series has always been one of the pinnacles of gaming with its robust open worlds, outstanding track lists and excellent writing/voice acting. Grand Theft Auto V is no exception and is shaping up to become one of the best games of this year, maybe even of this console’s generation. Yet the big difference V has with the other games is that it has multiple characters. Here’s why I think that this is the best step forward and most innovative feature for the game.
With three characters at their disposable, the fine folks at Rockstar can construct stories even better than before. They can explore the different aspects of the fictional American criminals (a retired bank robber who wants back in the game, the up and coming hood gangster who wants more in life and the psychotic drug user who has nothing to lose) and effectively construct three stories for the price of one that will intertwine and deliver what I hope to be a powerful narrative where you genuinely care about all characters and what happens to them in the game.
On top of this, with three characters, the game can appeal to and represent three types of fans of the Grand Theft Auto series. Michael, the retired bank robber, can be seen as the older generation of gamers who now have a family and can relate to his issues at home and wanting time for himself. He can also represent fans of the older games from the late 90’s. Franklin, the up and coming gangster, represents the fans of GTA: San Andreas and has similar ties to CJ’s story with the Ballas and Groove Street Gang. Both characters want to get out of the hood and live a better life. Franklin represents the whole “hip-hop/ghetto” culture we fell in love with back in GTA: San Andreas. And finally, Trevor, the psychotic drug user, represents the one thing that most Grand Theft Auto fans have in common: Causing chaos. Everybody loves to cut loose in GTA and wreak as much as havoc as possible before the cops bust you. Trevor is the perfect embodiment of the crazy gamer spirit that plays with fire we all have inside us.
To further understand what three great characters can do for a story, let’s take Pulp Fiction for an example. Tarantino splits the movie into three different scenarios with three main characters: Vincent Vega, Jules Winnfield and Butch Coolidge. Each character gets their own special scenario where they have to deal with a problem and we become more accustomed to the character and care for them. We want them all to achieve their goals or solve their problems even though they are not all necessarily on the same side. When we see Vincent and Jules interact, we become even more accustomed to their characters and we see them as a good team as well as good characters by themselves.
In short, if there’s a level of teamwork/friendship like Vincent and Jules (with probably a lot more bickering and rude banter) and great “individual” stories in Grand Theft Auto V, I believe the story can do wonders and deliver one of the best narratives in a Grand Theft Auto game for a very long time.
While three characters can do something new and interesting with the story, the same goes for the gameplay. Missions will incorporate all three characters, each with additional roles. One example we’ve seen of this character changing gameplay is a kidnapping performed by Michael while Franklin provides sniper support and Trevor flies the helicopter for evacuation. Not really a fan of being up close and personal as Michael? Click a button and you now control Franklin as he performs headshots on the incoming security team for the target. Check out the gameplay trailer below for a better idea of what I mean:
By giving the player three vantage points to choose from, there’s more variety in the missions when you replay the games. Yet the multiple character mechanic is not limited to missions. In a Q&A with Rockstar, they revealed that :
“There will be times on a mission when you play as one character, or as combinations of two of them, and sometimes as all three, always being able to switch between the characters mid-action. Off mission, it’s up to you.”
When you’re roaming out and about in the massive world of GTAV, you might get a little bored with one character. However, thanks to the character swap mechanic you can zoom out and take control of a different character and see them in their own world whether they might be cycling, purchasing illicit substances or on the run from the law. Either way, switching characters makes the gameplay exciting and gives it a rejuvenating aspect to the gameplay. You may be flying a plane as Franklin one second and then switch to Trevor robbing a liquor store and then switch to Michael peacefully sailing a boat. It’s exciting to see what random scenarios will come up.
I can’t wait to get my hands on Grand Theft Auto V and experience these brand new characters with an interwoven story that I’m sure will deliver some special moments, great laughs and crushing emotional blows from time to time. On top of this, I’m almost giddy with excitement to try out the character swapping on a mission and outside of one. The swapping seems to alleviate having to do the same type of actions (chase, shoot, follow) in a mission that GTA games have been known for and the swapping mechanic mixes it up a little. Overall, Grand Theft Auto V is set to be a refreshing and fun experience for gamers worldwide so be sure to mark your calendars for the 17th of September when we can finally get our hands on what is set to be this console generation’s most ambitious game of all time.