Viva Los Santos – a city of guns, cars... and yoga: Grand Theft Auto V also offers some middle-class pursuits amid the mayhem
As the new game makes sales of $1bn, Adam Sherwin discovers its quieter side
Condemned for its violence, lambasted for its casual approach to human rights abuses and slated for its sexism, the computer game Grand Theft Auto 5 nonetheless rapidly became the world's fastest-selling entertainment product on its release last week.
Now one of the record-breaking game's secrets can be revealed. There's more to GTA5 than murdering bystanders, torture and sleazy strip bars. Despite the amoral thrills promised by the computer game, the sprawling metropolis of Los Santos also offers some distinctly middle-class pursuits amid the mayhem.
Attention has focused on the game's sex and violence-fuelled narrative, but players who want a break from a busy day's carjacking can treat themselves to an art-house movie, hit the golf course or even cleanse the mind and soul with a yoga session.
Even master criminals have downtime, and the fifth GTA edition, which took a record $1bn (£624m) in sales in its first three days of release, delivers plenty of opportunities for cultural enrichment. The Doppler cinema in Vinewood screens Capolavoro, a subtitled foreign-language film, which spoofs European art-house movies of the 1950s and 1960s.
Responding to player demands, Rockstar, the game's designers, have increased the recreational activities available within the GTA universe. There are yoga classes where positions include "Punching Starfish", "Downward Facing Camel" and the sexually suggestive "Lucky Triangle" – which is formed with a partner.
Other pursuits include countryside cycle rides, skydiving and scuba-diving, although armour and weapons are scattered among the seaweed.
Golfers can test their swing on a fully functioning nine-hole course, set out before an attractively appointed clubhouse. There are buggies for the lazy to shuttle between the holes and green fees are $100. A healthy property market allows players to invest in the Los Santos Golf Club for $150,000,000, which gives a return of $264,500 per week.
Los Santos also boasts an extensive array of tennis courts – playing a hardened bank robber can be as unpredictable as tackling John McEnroe in his prime.
The easiest opponent to win a game from appears to be Michael's wife, Amanda, at the private court in the retired bank-robber's house – even though she is sleeping with the tennis instructor (and the yoga teacher).
Triathlon races, incorporating swimming, bike-riding and then running, provide a test of stamina. Or a family outing to the idyllic Malibu-style Vespucci Beach is another alternative between heists.
Legitimate business opportunities can be pursued by dabbling in the stock market. Life Invader, a spoof Facebook-style social network, which links to its own online community, is one of the hottest properties on the Bawsaq listing.
Players can use phone browsers to buy and sell shares in the in-game companies. However, the Bawsaq market is volatile and very much influenced by which brand of motorbike is regularly being destroyed, while people purchasing weapons from Ammu-nation, will cause shares in that enterprise to rise.
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