Wednesday, November 20, 2013

EXP Podcast #251: Grand Theft Auto V Debrief

It took two months, but we finally did it: Jorge and I both finished Grand Theft Auto V. It was a massive game by any measure: its development time, the scope of its open world, it's sales numbers, etc. This week we devote an entire episode to GTA V's sprawling pseudo-Californian world. We cover everything from targeting mechanics to the game's unrelentingly degenerate cast and throw in some classic open-world stories for good measure. GTA V sparked some strong opinions from us, so we're interested to hear what you thought. Feel free to jump into the comments with your stories from Los Santos.

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Show notes:

- Runtime: 54 min 52 sec
- "Two Important Things GTA V Is Still Getting Wrong," by Kirk Hamilton, via Kotaku
- Music by: Brad Sucks


  1. Just listened to this episode - I enjoy your take on games like this. You covered a lot of ground, and now I feel like I don't have to play the game. (I probably wasn't going to play it anyway)

    Scott, I particularly liked your phrase "the mechanics that defined a generation" so I google searched it, and found a message board discussion on the subject:

    I like to hear discussion on game mechanics, because I think they are what is 'going on behind the curtain' so to speak. I hope that some of this online discussion gets back to developers, or, more importantly: producers. Probably not, though, I imagine producers just get the sales numbers.

  2. I've got to hand it to Rockstar, they make beautiful games with beautiful environments, and gameplay is for the most part enjoyable. But the people behind the dialogue and story should be publicly flogged. It's just plain torture to watch some of the cut-scenes, and not because of the swearing, which I don't mind that at all. It's the horrible,
    horrible writing. Will this ever change? Get a clue Rockstar. Story started out somewhat decent, with some pretty entertaining stuff early on, but IT FALLS FLAT QUICKLY, after the SUPER CONDUCTIVE HYPE MACHINE begins to break down. And does nobody see how
    horrible the animations are in some of these cut scenes? The human body does not move like that. Those facial expressions are unnatural. Wire-hanger movement is not something I see in my day-to-day with fellow human beings. Fire the people that have been doing them for however many years and get someone that knows the difference. Once again the game looks good, but the story, dialogue, and animations in the cut-scenes fail to impress, yet again.

    But what is with the whole realism in a game that is meant to be totally unrealistic? For every realistic element interwoven into the gameplay there is an unrealistic element somewhere else. That's the way they built this game and I have to ask, where is the fun in that? Which is it Rockstar? Please make up your mind. Should I enjoy constantly hitting solid objects with my bumper while flying through others? Should I have to jog for 5 minutes when stranded to find a vehicle of any kind?

    I spent a lot of my time with the campaign frustrated along these lines, bored of the same mission templates that I've been playing through since GTA III and making the most of the scant opportunities to play my own way, like Franklin's refreshingly open assassination missions. That’s not even the worst part. For a fps, the aiming system was horrible. There's no persistent reticle. When you're walking around in the world of GTA V, not aiming your gun at anyone, there is no aiming reticle on the screen. That makes sense—a game this lovely-looking shouldn't have some floating crosshairs messing everything up! But without even the option of a persistent reticle, it's difficult to judge where my gun is going to be aiming when I bring it up. As a result, I'll usually wind up pointing my gun several feet above the guy who is getting ready to shoot me, meaning that I'll take a couple of rounds before I manage to get my aim together.

    Altogether, GTA V was a decent game but it failed short of what it was hyped to be. This could be a learning curve for Rockstar or it could be the start of making a game for the sake of profits.