The Grand Theft Auto franchise has enjoyed a level of success seldom seen in the video game industry. The best-selling series has sold over a 100 million copies worldwide, and is one of the most valuable video game IPs available on the market. This success is mostly well-deserved, since the series as a whole has been shaping and refining the open-world genre ever since the release of Grand Theft Auto III way back in 2001. The series has garnered a number of common elements and tropes that have become synonymous with it over the years. Still, there are certainly some elements (obvious or otherwise) that should be the source of great concern and debate.
These elements can range anywhere from simple gameplay tropes that should've been fixed a long time ago, all the way to socially-relevant questions that the game poses — most of which are negative in nature, to begin with. A deeper look into the series will provide a lot of people with unanswered questions that are begging for some much-needed closure, and yet the majority of the gaming community is afraid to ask these questions due to the rabid nature of video game fans. Here are 15 things people are too afraid to call the Grand Theft Auto series out on.
15 Glorification Of Violence
Video games have been notorious for making violence seem cartoonishly fun instead of handling it in a mature fashion. Some have attempted to try the latter, but most of the time studios decide to take the easy route and make violence an incentive for the player to give them the illusion of being able to do whatever they want (when it honestly just boils down to killing lots of people in an uninspired sandbox).
The Grand Theft Auto series pretty much personifies why violence must have a limit that shouldn't be crossed. People are impressionable, and a game with such a wide reach depicting violence in such a casual manner is not something to be taken lightly.
14 Consistently Mediocre Stories
Open-world games, in general, tend to have a hard time telling a compelling story. This might be due to various reasons, but perhaps the biggest one is the freedom afforded to the player. Story segments can be completed at the player's leisure, which means that the pacing can suffer immensely based on the play style of the gamer.
One might think that with the money and power behind the Grand Theft Auto series, these shortcomings might finally be overcome... but alas, that doesn't seem to be the case. All Grand Theft Auto games have featured stories that aren't remarkable in the slightest, and seem disjointed at times due to a prominent level of narrative disconnect. One might argue that the fault is solely due to the open-world genre's limitations, but that argument is quite weak and can easily be refuted.
13 Portrayal Of Women
You know your video game series has an underlying problem when most of your promotional posters involve women posing rather seductively in revealing outfits. This has been a staple of Grand Theft Auto marketing, and while it's certainly not indicative of the game's attitude towards women, most gamers will agree that the fairer sex is handled quite offensively in Grand Theft Auto.
Instead of crafting good, unique personalities, it seems that Rockstar has decided to portray women as a bunch of unflattering stereotypes that do nothing to endear these characters in the eyes of the player. Catalina in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a hothead, while Amanda in Grand Theft Auto V is the quintessential bad wife. You'll be hard-pressed to find any female side character in Grand Theft Auto who doesn't have a stereotypical background.
12 An Unnecessarily Bleak Portrayal Of Society
The world certainly has its share of bad apples, there's no denying that. You've got the greedy pigs at Wall Street who treat honest people's money like it means less that nothing. You've got lying politicians who'll say whatever they need to get their precious votes and then forget about the public altogether. And let's not forget the rampant racism and sexism that persists in society.
Grand Theft Auto is famous for comically portraying this societal behaviour in their games. However, the problem is that it seems this is all that is portrayed, leaving out all the good that (while an admittedly rare occurrence) is prevalent as well. Such an unnecessarily bleak portrayal makes you hate pretty much everyone in the game, making their murders all that more justifiable in your eyes.
11 Constantly Forcing Vehicle-Based Missions On You
Grand Theft Auto is a game about shooting, killing, maiming, exploding, smashing, blasting and slicing people and things for the most part. This is a good gameplay chain that keeps you interested in the grand scheme of things, but there are moments that can truly frustrate the player. Perhaps the forced driving missions and segments can classify as one of them.
The driving mechanics might be impressive, but they're overused so often that at times the experience becomes mundane. The worst are the races that you have to complete in order to progress with the game. This can turn from a mild inconvenience into hair-pulling frustration, depending on the difficulty of the races.
10 Underdeveloped Melee Combat
For all the good (and great) mechanics that Rockstar has managed to perfect in their games, one of their biggest missteps in every title they've developed is the downright awful melee combat. The studio has tried multiple times to fix this glaring issue, but it seems that a complete overhaul will be required in order to make this system better.
As of right now, Grand Theft Auto's combat is barely passable, making the game rely more on its solid shooting mechanics. While this is acceptable for now, it's only a matter of time before their stale melee combat starts becoming more noticeable. If the combat is to be improved, they should do it now and avoid the repercussions that might follow.
9 Lack Of Good Side Missions
Grand Theft Auto's main missions and content have always been absolutely stellar. The missions are jam packed with tons of action sequences — even more so in the latest iteration of the franchise, which had the brilliant heist missions included as well. However, the side content featured in the game is a whole another story.
There's no other way to describe these side jobs other than a collection of extremely mundane and highly boring filler content whose sole purpose is to extend the playtime of dedicated completionists who have an urge to complete every single thing available in-game. The novelty of being a vigilante, tow truck driver or taxi driver gets old pretty quick once you realize that you're basically doing the same thing over and over again.
8 Making The Police Look Like Total Buffoons
Cops in Grand Theft Auto have provided an endless source of inconveniences and amusement since the series began. The law enforcement in the series has provided people with a bevy of unforgettable moments — mostly because the majority of these people are absolutely incompetent at what they do.
The police in Grand Theft Auto have a tendency to be absolutely useless for a huge chunk of the game, serving merely as bullet fodder for the majority of whichever game in the series you play. You'd think that law enforcement would be a thing to fear... and yet, somehow it has devolved into a bunch of incompetent idiots who can't even bust a single perpetrator.
7 Shocking Imagery Just For The Sake Of It
The Grand Theft Auto series has never shied away from controversy — in fact, one might argue that it positively revels in it. From the issue of prostitution, to the Hot Coffee controversy in San Andreas, and then all the way to the infamous torture scene in Grand Theft Auto V — controversy has become synonymous with the popular gaming franchise. Frankly, it's gotten to the point where they force certain parts of the game to stand out and generate said controversy.
It would be passable if the game accommodated the usage of such imagery in their plot well, but as we saw in the latest version, this wasn't done smoothly at all. This begs the question — is generating controversy so important for marketing that the game needs to include such sickening imagery just for the sake of it?
6 The PC Has Become A Second Thought
The PC is the most powerful platform one can have for gaming. The graphical fidelity that a highly optimized PC can reach is absolutely staggering, putting home consoles to shame with their raw power. A technically sound game like Grand Theft Auto V would be absolutely marvelous on PC... if it's actually released on launch day.
This isn't a nitpick of the Grand Theft Auto series, but Rockstar's business model as a whole. The company has always preferred console releases over PCs, which limits the potential of their games. Piracy might be a huge issue, but perhaps the universal accommodation of all gamers should be at the forefront of their priority list.
5 The 'Wanted Level' Mechanic Gets Old Quick
Wanted Levels are a useful way to signify just how ferociously the police are searching you out after committing your unforgivable crimes (that they'll promptly forget about after a while). The system has been a mainstay of the series even since the first iteration, and has slowly progressed and developed over time with the newer releases.
The problem is that the Wanted Level stops becoming intimidating, and starts becoming more of an inconvenience later on in the game. What used to be a thrilling police chase slowly becomes a chore of trying to avoid the police for long enough, until your Wanted Level disappears. The Wanted Level shouldn't be this low on a player's list of priorities, and Rockstar should try to revamp the system to make it more intimidating.
In the larger scheme of things, this leads to a bigger problem...
4 Crime Is Glorified And Rewarded
It shouldn't be a surprise that a game series named after a criminal act involves you enacting out a ton of criminal acts — most of which should guarantee you a quick sentencing to life in prison, if not the death penalty. However, in the Grand Theft Auto series, all you get is a slap on the wrist, cool set-pieces, and a ton of money or some other form of remuneration.
The message provided by these acts aren't exactly the greatest either — 'crime is fun and potentially rewarding' is a horrible message, especially when one considers the number of units the Grand Theft Auto series has sold on a whole. The impressionable people playing this game deserve a better message, and it'll be up to Rockstar to decide how.
3 Blatant Stereotyping
If there's one thing women can feel slightly satisfied with, it's that their gender isn't the only group to get blatantly stereotyped for no reason whatsoever. Cops, gangs, ethnicities, and even random NPCs have barely any depth whatsoever, which would've been fine had it not been for the offensive stereotypes they're grouped under.
We've already talked about Amanda and Catalina, but other characters suffer this same treatment. San Andreas had a ton of racial stereotyping due to the setting you were playing in, and other games had people fall under certain groups just because of the way they talked or looked. This could get downright offensive at times... although when it comes to a series like Grand Theft Auto chances are it was meant to be this way.
2 Rockstar Isn't The Great AAA Gaming Company Everyone Makes It Out To Be
Rockstar Games has been one of the most reliable gaming companies in recent times. They take their time developing good games that satisfy most of the general public, and provide support to the gaming community by delivering on their promises. At least, this is what the majority of gamers believe, but just like every other AAA gaming company, Rockstar has its fair share of shady business practices as well.
We've already talked about the manner in which Rockstar has shelved PC releases, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. They promised single-player DLC for Grand Theft Auto V, but decided to shelve it for the Online experience (money is a powerful thing indeed). Recently, they stayed silent for a long time, as Take-Two motioned to basically remove all Grand Theft Auto V mods. To their credit, they recently released a statement correcting this, but such a goof up shouldn't have happened to begin with.
1 A Series Restricted By Its Own Limiting Concept
When you say Grand Theft Auto, certain things synonymous with the franchise come to mind — vast urban sprawls, crimes, shootouts, action are just a few of the many terms one might associate with the franchise. Unfortunately, this familiarity with the series tropes is one of the major limiters as well.
A game rife with technical achievements can only go so far before breaking out of the comfort zone of the series. These limitations end up being a double-edged sword for Rockstar — while the games will always function under certain premises and settings, there's barely any room left for experimentation. Perhaps the Red Dead series is a way for Rockstar to stretch their creative muscles, since it can be said (arguably) that the Grand Theft Auto series has become the biggest gaming cliche of all time.