Grand Theft Auto is undoubtedly the most successful and lucrative series on the Playstation, combining endless entertaining destruction as well as immersive story telling, eloquently drizzled with sexual innuendo’s and provocative images. Often herald as the Godfather of video games, GTA truly defines a generation of gaming and providing a little controversy along the way (just for good measure). Although much of the criticism’s and accusations that has been stupidly heaped upon such a humble and rather defenceless computer game have largely been cast by narrow-minded individuals who not only have no concept of common sense, but have never actually indulged in these apparent “violent video games”, meaning any opinion that these ignorant halfwit’s express are virtually frivolous and ultimately pointless. GTA has been blamed for inciting violence among impressionable teenagers, teen suicide, and through some extensive and imaginary research, the global recession and according to politicians, GTA is the sole creator of both Col Gaddafi and those little pink wafer biscuit things that no-one eats (I think?), but this has only helped the GTA series to become the revered powerhouse that it is today. But the one thing that has always been retained during its illustrious inception back in 1997, is its dry sense of humour and in later installments, its witty and flowing conversation’s between some of the most deeply obscene, obscure and downright crazy characters ever computer generated, but GTA IV changed all that, relying heavily on a more mature narrative coupled together with far more intense characters, and almost entirely forgetting where the GTA series originated from.
The original and subsequent sequel were very entertaining and successful, but were ultimately limited and hindered by technological restraints, and it wasnt until GTA reached the more powerful PS2 that Rockstar could fully create their vision for the series for all the world to ardour. GTA III was a gigantic stride for the series not only for moving from a top down view to a third person perspective, but also for incorporating an intriguing story to accompany the visual feast that we all indulged in. Vice City (my personal highlight in the series), really expanded on everything that made its predecessor great, with a far more diverse range of colourful and sometimes psychotic personalities, from the unfortunately named Lance Vance to the cowardly attorney Ken Rosenberg, humour and comedy were the prominent feature’s in Vice City, and the tongue in cheek approach made Vice City arguably the most popular in the series. GTA: San Andreas concentrated more on expanding the GTA location by crafting a world that was huge, but still embracing the same comedic timing that had been the foundation for the series, (and infecting me with a mild case of Tourette’s as I constantly utter the words “for sure” far too often), and then there was GTA IV.
GTA IV is without any reasonable doubt a great game and still retains many of the unique qualities that make a classic GTA, but there was something missing, a certain charm that the fourth never really captured, and this has nothing to do with the leading man Niko Bellic. Rockstar have always had a good grasp of what a protagonist need’s to be and having an eastern european as the central character in my opinion was a stroke of genius, he was just sadly let down by a completely wooden and frankly forgettable cast. Roman was annoying, Kate was a bore and Brucie, well don’t even get me started, you just didn’t care about any of the characters that inhabited Liberty City, making the all so difficult moral obligations that you faced as you progressed rather idle. GTA IV just wasnt fun, it didn’t entertain in the same manner that the previous games did, the incidents you experienced left you feeling cold and out of sync with the games events, and I’m utterly convinced that the distant feel is purely down to IV’s lack of humour. A dank and dimly rendered city and more realistic combat simply aren’t enough to sustain GTA as the as the king of the open world, and unless Rockstar regain’s its diverse cast of excentric characters and its comedic dialogue then GTA could struggle to match other ambitious titles. Remember where you came from guys?!
Do you think GTA has lost its sense of humour? Or did GTA need to mature? Let me what you think, cheers.