GTA V: A glorious balance of imperfections
Grand Theft Auto V is imperfect in every way and brilliant for it. It excels in no particular area and yet is excellent from top to toe. GTA V is gloriously flawed and we shouldn’t want it any other way.
A great GTA game consists of many different moving parts and ideas. Excess is a big part of it and in this respect GTA V is clearly one of the best in the series. It doesn’t get much more excessive than this in terms of violence, consumerism and carnage. But it’s also about being a shooter. And a racing game. And a crime simulation. It’s an excess of game modes and genres mixed together as well as an excess of crowd-pleasing anarchy.
Is GTA as good a third person shooter as Gears Of War? Of course not.
Is GTA as good an action racing game as Burnout Paradise? Not really.
Are GTA V’s heists anywhere near as exciting and intense as Payday 2’s? Not a chance.
But we shouldn’t want it any other way. The very idea that GTA can even attempt to achieve so many different ideas in one fell swoop is ludicrous. It’s an 8/10 racing game and an 8/10 shooter, but it’s both those things at once and so many more. It’s the sum total of all these things that make it so good. It may improve and become more nuanced in all these little areas, but anything more than 8/10 in each area would ruin the whole.
You see for me, making an 8/10 shooter within GTA means Rockstar has the time to make sure it has a 8/10 flight sim in there and a pretty decent tennis game. Oh, and how about a round of golf? Or perhaps an Internet to search? Would you care for some underwater search mini-games? I’ve no doubt that Rockstar North could spend the next fives years making an amazing shooter with the GTA engine, but I fear it would lose something elsewhere as a result.
Some might argue that if you put all those scores together, the average is what the game is really worth. If you strive for perfection in all things then I’ll concede this is a worthy, idealistic, but ultimately soulless argument. Some things are more than the sum of their parts.
Whatever the next GTA may look like I hope it continues to be a mad collection of imperfect portions, avoiding the chance to completely conquer any single area in favour of just adding even more insane, brilliant and unfathomable new features each as patchy, and yet superb, as the last.
If I wanted to get all floaty and high-minded I’d throw in something here about it being as imperfect as the world it satirises… I guess I’ve written that now so I can’t disassociate from it. Maybe ignore that last part, but the rest is solid, I’m sure.