You, my friend, have been lied to. I speak not of the government or of that mythical cake, but about your precious Grand Theft Auto V. You are led to believe that the world is so open, diverse and malleable, when in fact, it is not. It is simply a train ride with beautiful scenery.

You seem confused. Let me explain it like this then. Take a game like Elder Scrolls: Skyrim: It is a game with a central storyline and an open world structure. Unlike GTA V, however, the choices you make daily actually affect your experience with the game. If you decide to steal from someone in a town and you are discovered, the guards will attempt to arrest you. If you resist, they will try to kill you. You have the option of paying a fine, which varies depending on the severity and number of your crimes, and they will confiscate any and all stolen goods you currently have in your inventory, regardless of where you took them from. Let’s say you kill someone and escape the town. If you return ten actual gameplay hours later, after completely forgetting that one miserable life you took, the townspeople will not forget—they will never forget. More importantly, the guards will immediately roll up on you, presenting you with the fine/jail/death option on sight. Conversely in GTA, you could be a mass murdering bastard, but as long as you hide from the cops for a couple minutes, all is forgiven giving you no incentive to actually care about any mistakes you make when driving on sidewalks. Every store you rob, every prostitute you screw then kill to get your money back (great trick by the way) and every pedestrian you mow down in cold blood does not matter in the slightest.

As far as the story goes, it is just as deceptively “open.” There are side quests and several random events scattered throughout the city, but do they really matter? If you completely ignore every last one of them, would you really miss out on anything? No, no you would not. The random encounters for the three main characters are cool for a couple of laughs, but provide nothing to the story. They do not change how people approach you, how other story characters interact with you, or even provide some type of depth to the characters that would otherwise have been missed. Back on the other side of the fence, if I were to play inFamous and slaughter hundreds of people in the street, the way random people would speak to me, react to my presence or even the missions and skills that would be available to me would all change. Even the character’s appearance is altered to show just how far on the slippery slope of good and evil you have slid.

Is there anything wrong with a linear game? No, not at all. I have played plenty of Mario games to know that just going from point A to point B can be extremely enjoyable. When you present me with a wide open world, three different characters and this many activities, however, I expect at least SOME of it to matter. Maybe I want to go somewhere in my tennis career. They could AT LEAST let me join a gang of my own choosing. These are not an option for you, my friend. Not one time do you get the option to tell your family to go to hell or shoot that damn therapist. Not once can you tell Lamar, “Fuck you, I’m not doing this dumb shit with you”. Not once can you actually screw some dude who has pissed you off, which seems to be Trevor’s answer for EVERYTHING. No, my friend, you have no control. This train can only go where the tracks take it and as Barrett Wallace once said, “There ain’t no gettin’ off of this train we on!”


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