Will GTA 5 stand the test of time?

We gamers are a fickle bunch. Memories of GTA IV have warped over the
years, recognising its minor faults rather than its major triumphs

Related Topics

Like the majority of the gaming public I’ve
spent the last few days boosting cars, capping fools and terrifying any
pedestrian silly enough to abide by the laws of the road.

I’m of course talking about Grand Theft Auto V, the latest entry in Rockstar’s phenomenally popular, generation-defining franchise. Yet while the series is well known to gamers for its biting satire, ambitious open world landscapes and immersive gameplay, even those who wouldn’t know a controller from a TV remote have also found themselves talking about ‘that game with all the criminals in it’. GTA is one of a select few entertainment properties - like Harry Potter or Star Wars - that can halt the consciousness of seemingly an entire country. Whether the coverage is positive or negative, GTA has developed into a landmark series for the videogaming world and is a genuine cultural juggernaut.

What gets lost in all this hyperbole and mythologizing is a basic, fundamental question. Is GTA V any good? There is an assumption that something this monumental that has been hyped to fever pitch cannot be any less than perfect and yet it could well have been that Rockstar had sunk a reported £170 million into a complete stinker. It’s happened before, just ask John Romero about Daikitana, or Rockstar themselves about the truly dreadful State of Emergency. Thankfully for everyone who purchased one of the 1.57 million units of the game sold on its first day of sale, GTA V is brilliant. It’s a bravura example of the potential of videogames to build livable and living worlds that offers a warped reflection on our own, a thrilling blockbuster to rival the best that Hollywood can offer and a reminder that games can be stupidly fun without sacrificing its intelligence.

Although in hindsight, wasn’t GTA IV all those things as well? You remember, that game with all those annoying phone calls, the friend-dates, the depressing colour palette, the wobbly physics, the terminal opening hours and your ‘cousin’. Five years ago, GTA IV was released to the same level of hype and expectation as its sequel and it consequently received a critical smothering as journalists quickly threw out perfect scores while championing its technical and narrative perfection. While there are still those who would defend Rockstar’s scathing magnum opus to the hilt, myself included, the game’s reputation has changed, warped and often soured over the years as it is remembered for its minor faults rather than its major triumphs.

And yet, while the videogame community can be a needlessly temperamental, venomous bunch, at times their concerns and criticisms are entirely appropriate and it’s this communal post-release re-evaluation of games that determines their lasting influence and reputation. While reviews are subjective by nature, when something is as ‘important’ as GTA the context - the critical expectation and the impatient fans - can sometimes obscure and overwhelm the quality of the content.

I recently found myself fall foul of this problem after playing Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us in the last month, a good time away from all of the launch hype. This elegiac, solemn, disquieting title deserves a focused eye unfettered by external influence which I found was quite an easy state of mind to assume months after its release. The Last of Us made me reflect on whether Bioshock Infinite was the groundbreaking, intelligent, immediate classic I thought it was on launch and in all honesty it probably isn’t. I still think it’s a wonderful game and an impressive achievement made with admirable craft and imagination, but the languors in its story and the lack of context for its endless, occasionally gratuitous, violence bother me after judging Naughty Dog’s tour de force in total critical isolation.

So yes, GTA V is insanely popular and so far it seems like it has satisfied critics and fans alike, but will we be able to say the same in five years time when we’re talking about how amazing GTA VI is? I guess time will tell, but for now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be in Los Santos.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Recruitment Genius: Partner Manager - EMEA

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partner Manager is required ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Army reservist Corporal James Dunsby  

Whether it’s in the City, the Army or at school, this ritual sadism has to stop

Chris Blackhurst
Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Olympic champion formerly known as Bruce, unveiled her new name on Monday  

'I'm the happiest I've been for a long time and I finally know where I fit': Here's why role models matter for trans kids

Susie Green
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific