Monday, September 30, 2013

Why GTA V is Bad for Gaming

How can something so good that it knocks all of its competition off its continent somehow be bad for its industry?

Note: For this piece, I'm going to and assume the reader likes Grand Theft Auto V as much as the critics and, oh, well, pretty much everyone besides the pedantic complainers do. If you do not enjoy GTA V, you might as well stop reading right now. You won't agree with any of this, and you'll likely post a vitriolic comment about how I'm full of shit. I'll keep any thought-provoking comments up, even if they're in disagreement with this paragraph or anything else contained within this column, but pointless attacks will be deleted.

Bear with me. I'm going to bury this lede so deep, it would take a team of editors with their own excavation crew about four months to even find it. Before I say a word about the topic at hand, I'm going to talk about Superman II. If, somehow, you haven't seen Superman II, you should know that, in the following paragraphs, I'm going to spoil the shit out of the whole film. Read on, if you dare.

Superman II was about the cosmic Boy Scout getting it on with his girlfriend, Lois Lane. Of course, if the mighty Krypton Schlong were to be unleashed, Superman's powerful ejaculation would blow her back inside out, because it would, of course, be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and all that. Superman doesn't want to split Lois in half, so he makes a deal with his dead dad to give up his powers and become a normal, boring human. Long story short, Superman and Lois fall in love, they screw a few times, Kryptonian fugitives show up and wreak havoc, Superman phones home or something and gets his powers back, he saves the day by throwing a cellophane S at one of the bad guys, etc.

In the touching final scenes, Superman has decided to go back to fighting for truth, justice and the American way, necessitating a breakup with his lover. This leaves Lois in a rough situation: How could she, having been in love with the world's most desirable man, ever go back to a normal life? How can Superman's former girlfriend ever give a crap about some everyday scmhuck on a romantic level?

Thankfully, Superman had more powers unknown to his most loyal fans than just the cellophane. Through the power of a psychic superkiss, he is able to selectively wipe her memory of their romance and even restore the belief that Clark and Superman are two totally different people.

WTF Does This Have to do with GTA?

I'm not getting into spoilers or a full-on review of Grand Theft Auto V. Instead, since you somehow stumbled onto this column, I'll assume you either are familiar with the game, or you read my Facebook posts. If it's the latter, I'm so sorry; my FB stuff really sucks.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm just about to explain my metaphor. To clear up any misconceptions, though, you should know that I'm not calling myself Superman, and nobody whom I know of is making love to a videogame. I guess you could, if you wanted to and had a very small penis, but the little hole in the disc couldn't possibly feel very welcoming, even with lube. And imagine if the disc cracked! How would you explain the scar to future love interests? Then again, I guess if you make love to videogame discs, you wouldn't really have to worry much about love interests.

The Superman Theory of GTA V and the Gaming Industry is this: The average gamer is Lois Lane. The gamer's love life represents all the games he or she will potentially play (that slut). GTA V is Superman. When Superman rocked Lois's world, she couldn't imagine bopping around with other dudes after him. When GTA V is enjoyed to its fullest extent, the gamer will have one hell of a difficult time finding much interest in anything that doesn't meet or exceed GTA V standards. That's right: GTA V is such a good lover - I mean, game, that it has effectively ruined the gaming industry.

If you don't like GTA V, you're probably one of the lucky ones. You're immune to its wiles. If you love it like my son and I (and a few zillion other people) do, you're as screwed as we are.

How Could Loving a Game Lead to Disaster?

World's best tennis sim?
Usually, an exceptional game is good news for videogames as a whole: It gives other developers serious inspiration to compete, to make something to try to live up the challenge. Topping GTA V, however, isn't a realistic goal. It has:

  • Acting that rivals the best Hollywood has to offer
  • Outstanding animation
  • Deeply developed characters. So fleshed out they could be in literature
  • Ultra-high-quality game mechanics: Each vehicle you buy, steal, or borrow feels unique; so does being on foot; plane, boat, submarine, helicopter, and other vehicle piloting is challenging but accessible
  • A myriad of weapons, each of which feels distinct
  • Minigames of such quality that could be their own, full-priced simulations (including the best tennis game I've experienced to date).
  • An overwhelmingly large, seamless, living, breathing world with day/night and weather cycles

...and a bunch more stuff I can't think of right now. It was made for a budget that by most reports, is damn close to $270 million. Very few games will, for years or even decades to come, match that kind of development cost. And it earned out in presales. Presales!

The only aspect that other games match or beat is GTA V's graphics, which, honestly, aren't everything. If gameplay trumps graphics, than, in euchre terms, GTA V has both bowers, the ace, the king and the queen.

Therefore, gamers, we have a problem. There's no one to give us a superkiss to wipe our brains of all of that GTA V lovin' and splooge, but we probably won't be satisfied to play GTA and nothing but GTA forever.

That's exactly why GTA V is bad for the gaming industry. Great games are fantastic, especially when they inspire competition - but this game is just too exceptional. It's outstandingly fantastic, if there is such a thing, and it's likely that nothing will live up to it for a long time. Thanks, Rockstar, you've spoiled all our other games, possibly for years to come. One taste of superlove makes ordinary love seem, well, ordinary.


Better than my Saturn?
That's not to say all hope is lost. GTA V is an action game, through and through. Games in other genres hopefully won't be affected. For instance, strategy games, from chess to XCOM, from Panzer Whatever to Command and Conquer Whatever, shouldn't be affected. Much. The same probably goes for RPGs, at least most of them. Then again, few games have NPCs as fleshed out as GTA V does. Pure adrenaline shooters like Quake shouldn't be - wait, do they make those anymore? Um...what about racing sims? Er, driving is a big part of GTA V.

Anyway, you get the idea. Games that are truly different in nature from the open-world action genre might not become disappointing after you spend a few weeks with GTA V.

I love an amazing game as much as the next gamer, but shit, this one is so exceptional it has the potential to have an effect much like driving a Porsche for a week and then trying to go back to your Dodge Neon. You'll want to blow up your Neon and collect the insurance, for a fraction of a down payment toward a Porsche.

Enough of this crap. Trevor is waiting for me. Or maybe I'll switch to Franklin for a while.
Trev. I wouldn't recommend calling him that to his face.

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