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With the launch of, arguably, one of the year’s most anticipated titles mere hours away at the point of this article’s writing, I can’t help but ponder my own personal history with the Grand Theft Auto franchise. It has helped me form a viewpoint of the franchise few will likely take, and that’s just fine.

I’ve been an avid gamer my entire life. When Rockstar‘s franchise really exploded on the scene in 2001 with Grand Theft Auto III, I was naturally curious. It generated so much buzz in the media and amongst my friends, I was genuinely curious to check it out. The problem I faced was that I was 16 years old at the time and I knew that the game had some very mature content in it.

I fought off playing the game for as long as I could and, against my better judgment, I coaxed my parents into renting it for me. What I found when I actually sat down and played the game, though, genuinely held absolutely no appeal to me at all. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed getting all of the different cars and trying to take them off crazy ramps, but the rest of the game left me completely uninterested. I cared nothing for joining the crime family, running down old ladies, or soliciting hookers to regain my health. It also didn’t help that the game’s shooting mechanics felt completely horrendous to me. I returned the game and never picked it back up.

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Fast forward another year with the release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The buzz again picked back up. This time around, you could drive motorcycles and the game was supposed to have a fantastic soundtrack. I decided to rent the game and give the franchise another shot. The soundtrack, based completely on tunes from the 1980s, really was incredible. It was a lot of fun cruising down the road, jamming out to Billy Jean. The motorcycle was also a neat element. It went crazy fast and you could take some sick jumps with it. Ultimately, though, I hit the same wall with Vice City that I hit with GTAIII. I just couldn’t get into the criminal storyline or any of the other side missions. I cruised around the city a few more hours and ultimately returned the game back to the rental store before I went back to playing Prince of Persia: Sands of Time or whatever game I was into at the time.

I decided that was enough of the franchise for a while. I bypassed San Andreas without ever blinking. When Grand Theft Auto IV came out for a newer generation of hardware, though, I decided to give the franchise yet another go, hoping my tastes had changed over the last few years. I wanted to get drawn into the story of Niko Bellic and his cousin, Roman. While the world was considerably more well realized, I once quickly grew tired of the story, ultimately setting the game aside without seeing it to its end.

Now here we are. A numbered Grand Theft Auto game hasn’t been released in over half a decade, and we’re teetering on the brink of what is being touted as an intense crime drama that is sure to be well-loved by the masses. I want to be part of the throng – to enjoy the franchise like everyone else seems to. I’ve come to realized a couple of things about myself, though.

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The GTA series draws heavily on crime drama films that touch on some of the same core concepts. In college, my friends coaxed me into watching Scarface and the Godfather trilogy. Unfortunately, those films left me feeling the same way the stories of GTA games do – complete bewilderment. I just don’t see the draw in that sort of material. From where I’m sitting, Al Pacino’s rise to drug lord and Coppola’s The Godfather movies feel completely dissonant with my core being. When given the choice, I play the “good guy” in every single game I play. I just can’t bring myself to delve into the seedy side of human nature.

I don’t want this to come off as a “holier than thou” sort of feeling. I want to express that I want to be able to enjoy what so much of the populace sees entertainment value in. I just can’t seem to let the franchise get its hooks into me. I’m sure I will want to give Grand Theft Auto V a go once again at some point to see if my tastes have changed at all, but for right now, I believe I’ll have to practice abstinence and wait through the launch of one of the biggest games of 2013.

What do you think? Are you excited for the new game? Are you like me, struggling to find a way to enjoy it, but unable? Am I just completely blinded? Let me know what you think.

Be sure to check back for our upcoming review of the game for our full opinion.

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Christian, gamer, software developer, crossfitter, jogger, and dog lover

  • Dirkster_Dude

    I have no problem enjoying or not enjoying a game. I never really try to force myself to do so. There is absolutely nothing wrong with NOT liking GTA 5. What I don’t like is people who tell of an absolutely horrible video game when they have never played one or perhaps that particular genre. These are the people that are happy with there ignorance and that somehow makes them feel all the better because the evil GTA game didn’t interest them. The only thing I don’t think you should do and you certainly haven’t done here is review the game because it is clearly not even interesting to you.

    • Joe Morgan

      Yeah, this one isn’t mine to review. I would feel quite unqualified to review it, especially with so many folks on staff that would be elated to get it. I may try it out one of these days, but I’ll let it go for a little while.

  • Dakan45

    After saints row iv, i just cant go back to gta. Driving cars around, shooting gansters, putting on generic clothes and taking cover behind walls, they all seem too mundande to me.

    • Joe Morgan

      It’s funny – the Saints Row franchise is another one I’ve not gotten into, but I’ve heard several people say that GTA doesn’t really interest them after Saints Row. About the only open-world games I’ve ever really gotten into were Crackdown and Red Faction: Guerrilla

      • Dakan45

        You know i am alooking at gta v now and i try to understand why its supposed to be so good.

        Gta iv was borring to me. Now gta v, seems to have the SAME american parody story than dan houser likes to write and he wrote for max payne 3 and ruined the franchise and it would seem the game is actually shorter than the previous gta games and get this….san andreas….doesnt have san fierro or las venturas anymore, its like that huge area on the map became barren out of the blue. Combine that with the short campaign and samey story and it seems to me this series just gets high rattings for just being “Gta”

        I am far more interested in watchdogs and its story and gameplay than gta at this point.

        • That is a perfect opinion on what many people think about the game at the moment. Just because its GTA it gets the the love. Just like how COD gets all the because its COD. Quite sad, if you are the leader in this style of game you should take charge and come up with new and innovative concepts to keep the game fresh and interesting for old fans and new comers to series. ~MA

          • Dakan45

            Yup, so much praise for being gta.

            Max payne 3 got praise too but the result was low sales not cover the 108 million budget. Call me a troll but gta v doesnt deserve 265 million budget.

            How hard would it be to add some taxi missions?

            Or innovate a bit. One thing i can agree with though is that gta v has mission variety.

          • Yes I have to agree if it’s the leader it needs to innovative and have things not done by any other open world game out there like Saints Row and one that was very impressive “Sleeping Dogs” It lacks the new feel that it should be bringing to this style of game genre. ~MA

          • Dakan45

            Yeah like i said it sells and gets rated for high because its gta wihtout actually trying. They can spend as much as they want but its just wasted if they dont innovate.

          • yes exactly! ~MA

          • Whoo

            Sleeping dogs was my game of 2012 nothing else came close played it from start to finish with no games played in between.

      • you should try the latest Saints Row Joe, at the very least give that a chance 😉 ~MA

        • Joe Morgan

          I’ve played the first hour or so of SRIII. There were some really cool moments in it – jumping out of the helicopter onto the party in sync with “Power” was great. I have it on Steam. I should go back to it at some point.

  • goodtoseeu

    I’m not really that fussed about GTA anymore the last two sucked and although 5 might be a good game or not i’m just not that interested in it. What makes me laugh is though all the hate i get for not getting all excited and wet in the crotch area over this game.

    • haha (wet in the crotch) well if you’ve lost the love then there is nothing you can do about it.. you gave it a shot and not it doesnt do anything for you anymore ~MA

    • You should try it out and laugh a little more 😉 ~MA

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