“Too dirrty to clean my act up.”
A staple title in the late 90s, Grand Theft Auto has since sprung up into one of the most infamous and universally acclaimed video game franchises to date. With 10 standalone games in the series, 4 expansion packs, and the release of Grand Theft Auto V on the horizon, Rockstar Games is showing no signs of letting this powerhouse go to waste.
Posed as a comedic satire of American culture, the series found itself mired in controversy from the very beginning thanks to its adult themes and unrepentant glorification of violence. Unlike the Saints Row franchise which sprang up in GTA‘s wake and went in a completely over-the-top and exaggerated silly-stupid-fun direction, the Grand Theft Auto series insists on taking itself as seriously as possible. As a result, the games have become as well known for their surprisingly good storylines as they are for the ability to drive over the odd hooker.
Set in fictional cities modeled after distinct American counterparts (for example, “Vice City” is largely based off of Miami), the protagonist is always a character trying to rise into the upper echelons of the criminal underworld though the reasons why change from game to game. The player chooses between a number of main missions in an open world to advance the storyline or has the option to run around the city and complete a number of side missions. These all run high to action-adventure shoot em’ up hijinks and driving/racing shenanigans.
Grand Theft Auto V
The upcoming title in the GTA series takes the story back to the fictional state of San Andreas in the city of Los Santos (based on modern-day Los Angeles in Southern California) and, according to Rockstar, promises to be the biggest open world game to date. It will also feature three playable characters who are, in spite of some minor feminist outcry, all men.
But what would GTA be without somebody getting mad about it? Denounced from the start for its unnecessarily extreme violence, its glamorization of crime, a dubious history of corrupted gamers, and a connection to many real life crimes, the long-running franchise is a big name to live up to with high fan expectations.
Not that GTA V seems to be much daunted by the prospect.
ESRB ratings summary
The Entertainment Software Rating Board has published their ratings summary for Grand Theft Auto V and even a cursory glance at the wall of text will only reinforce the suspicion that GTA V is going to be the filthiest GTA yet.
Not that anyone should be surprised that the upcoming title is rated ‘M for Mature’. But the reasons why may make even veteren GTA players raise an eyebrow.
- criminal activities (e.g., stealing cars, executing heists, assassinating targets)
- pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles, and explosives to kill various enemies (e.g., rival gang members)
- the ability to shoot non-adversary civilians, though this may negatively affect players’ progress as a penalty system triggers a broad police search
- blood-splatter effects occur frequently, and the game contains rare depictions of dismemberment
- in one sequence, players are directed to use various instruments and means to extract information from a character; the sequence is intense and prolonged
- depictions of sexual material/activity: implied fellatio and masturbation
- nudity is present in two settings: a topless lap dance in a strip club and a location that includes male cult members with exposed genitalia in a non-sexual context
- TV programs and radio ads contain instances of mature humor: myriad sex jokes; depictions of raw sewage and feces on a worker’s body; a brief instance of necrophilia
- narcotics (e.g., smoking from a bong, lighting a marijuana joint); cocaine use is also depicted
- the words “f**k,” “c*nt,” and “n**ger” can be heard in the dialogue
Perhaps this time around GTA is taking a page out of Saints Row for a change and bringing back some of the silliness that GTA IV strove so hard to avoid.
Console gamers will be able to dive right into the madness on September 17 when GTA V will be released on the PS3 and Xbox 360. A PC release is expected but has not yet been given an official date.