After months of hype, the latest mission-based video game, Grand Theft Auto 5 has arrived! But is this latest version the greatest version?
Sales Record Breaker
If initial popularity is measured by early sales, then Grand Theft Auto V is already one of the greatest video games around. The game, grossing an estimated $1 billion in international sales in its first three days, snatched the previous record set by another mission-based adventure, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 which took longer than two weeks to reach that first $1 billion in revenue.
Even with the costs involved in creating graphically realistic, vivid video games, clearly these mission-based games are the big money spinners for animation and game production companies. Investment into GTA V was heavy, and the costs huge, but the resulting interactions with believable missions and criminal underbellies of staid societies which can be explored through playing the game have led it to the pinnacle of current game play.
Of course, there’s no escaping the escapism that these mission-based games, including GTA 5, bring. As well as the usual heists, assaults and car-jackings, GTA V also offers “alternative” escapism (as if taking the control of the actions of a violent criminal weren’t enough for you) through the opportunity to attack random characters, including a mime and livestock, as well as holding the potential for you to be a shark’s dinner or explore extreme sporting with a sky-dive or two.
With individuals queuing at stores for days before the release, and tales of acts of violent robbery of a newly purchased game from a fan in the UK, the hype surrounding a game has never been more effective. Even stretching the world of graphic action to include that of feature films, GTA V has also managed to gross more than the top grossing film of 2013 (so far), the spectacular Iron Man 3. This managed a meager $375 million in global sales when it first hit the screens, proving that even small-screen releases have the potential to make it large.
But revenue popularity aside, is the game play as great as the hype surrounding the game’s release suggested? Early reviews from enthusiasts, aficionados and critics appear to be predominantly positive. Much of the acclaim relates to the fantastic, graphically gifted animation and the sheer volume of activity and options that are available to the player.
However, negative reviewers are quick to point out similarities between GTA V and IV, particularly in relation to the driving effects and “experience”. Technically, players also found lag due to “over-animation”, leading to a clunky, clumsy feel during some interactions. At a somewhat surprising level, given the well-known “offensive” elements of all the GTA games, there are several negative reviews around which cite the over-use of seriously offensive words (ones which have been frequently used in those other versions) as unnecessary and offensive.
Whether these player-perceived negatives of the game prove enough to knock the game from its current supreme status in the popularity stakes remains to be seen, but as the potential profits from merchandising hasn’t even yet started to be added into the revenue generated by this latest Grand Theft Auto offering, the chances of the game being topped in the earning stakes for the next year or so looks very unlikely indeed.