Grand Theft Auto V

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Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V.png
Developer(s)Rockstar North
Publisher(s)Rockstar Games
Distributor(s)Take-Two Interactive
Producer(s)Leslie Benzies
Imran Sarwar
Designer(s)Leslie Benzies
Imran Sarwar
Programmer(s)Adam Fowler
Artist(s)Aaron Garbut
Writer(s)Dan Houser
Rupert Humphries
Composer(s)The Alchemist
Woody Jackson
Oh No
Tangerine Dream
SeriesGrand Theft Auto
EngineRAGE, with Euphoria and Bullet Physics
Platform(s)PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release date(s)17 September 2013
Genre(s)Action-adventure
Mode(s)Single-player, online multiplayer
DistributionBlu-ray Disc (PlayStation 3)
DVD-DL (Xbox 360)
Digital download
 
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Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V.png
Developer(s)Rockstar North
Publisher(s)Rockstar Games
Distributor(s)Take-Two Interactive
Producer(s)Leslie Benzies
Imran Sarwar
Designer(s)Leslie Benzies
Imran Sarwar
Programmer(s)Adam Fowler
Artist(s)Aaron Garbut
Writer(s)Dan Houser
Rupert Humphries
Composer(s)The Alchemist
Woody Jackson
Oh No
Tangerine Dream
SeriesGrand Theft Auto
EngineRAGE, with Euphoria and Bullet Physics
Platform(s)PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release date(s)17 September 2013
Genre(s)Action-adventure
Mode(s)Single-player, online multiplayer
DistributionBlu-ray Disc (PlayStation 3)
DVD-DL (Xbox 360)
Digital download

Grand Theft Auto V is an open world, action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 17 September 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is the fifteenth title in the Grand Theft Auto series and the first main entry since Grand Theft Auto IV in 2008. Set within the fictional state of San Andreas, based on Southern California, the game's single-player story follows three criminals and their efforts to execute a number of heists while under pressure from a government agency. The game's use of open world design allows the player to freely roam the state's countryside and the city of Los Santos, based on Los Angeles.

The game is played from a third-person perspective and allows the player to navigate the world on-foot or by utilising a number of vehicles. Off-mission, the player is free to interact with the game world at their leisure, however illegal actions may incite a response from the game's law enforcement agencies. Throughout the game, the player simultaneously controls the three lead protagonists, switching between them both during and outside of missions. The story is framed by the heist sequences, and many of the missions make use of shooting and driving gameplay. The game's online multiplayer mode allows up to 16 players to roam the open world, and engage in co-operative and competitive game matches.

Development began shortly following the release of Grand Theft Auto IV. The development team envisioned Grand Theft Auto V as a spiritual successor to many of their previous projects, such as Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3. To innovate on the core structure of its predecessors, the team designed Grand Theft Auto V's gameplay and story around three lead characters instead of one. Creating the game's open world required extensive research; the developers conducted field research around California throughout development, capturing footage to be sent to the design team. Development effort was shared between many of Rockstar's studios around the world and required five years' work.

As one of the last titles to be released for the seventh generation of video game consoles, Grand Theft Auto V was highly anticipated preceding its release. The game was acclaimed by many reviewers upon its release, with praise particularly directed at the multiple protagonist design and open-ended gameplay. A scene depicting protagonist Trevor Philips using torture, and the game's treatment of women, polarised critics. Some labelled the game as inherently violent and misogynistic. A commercial success, Grand Theft Auto V broke industry sales records by earning US$800 million in the first 24 hours of its release and US$1 billion within its first three days, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history. Grand Theft Auto V has earned several year-end accolades, including Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications.

Gameplay

Grand Theft Auto V is an action-adventure video game played from a third-person perspective in an open world environment. The player uses melee attacks, firearms and explosives to fight enemies, and can run, jump, swim or use vehicles to navigate the game's world. In combat, auto aim and a cover system can be used as assistance against enemies.[1] If the player's health is low, it will gradually regenerate to its half-way point. A perpetual objective for the player is to complete missions to progress through the story, but much like other open world games, these missions can be completed at the player's leisure. If the player commits illegal acts while playing, the game's law enforcement agencies may respond, which is represented by a "Wanted" meter in the head-up display (HUD).[2] On the meter, stars are displayed to indicate the player's current "Wanted" level; for example, at the maximum five-star "Wanted" level the efforts by law enforcement to incapacitate the player become very aggressive. Should the player escape the immediate area in which they are wanted, law enforcement officers will search for the player. At this point, the line of sight of officers displays on the mini-map; when line of sight is broken and the player is hidden, the "Wanted" meter enters a cooldown mode and eventually recedes.[3]

The single-player mode of Grand Theft Auto V is played through three player-controlled protagonists: Michael De Santa, Trevor Philips and Franklin Clinton, criminals whose stories interconnect as they complete missions. While interacting with the game world, the player may switch between them at will, by means of a directional compass on the HUD. Franklin corresponds to the north point, Michael to the west, Trevor to the east and the player's multiplayer avatar to the south. During missions, the game may switch the player's character automatically as necessary in order to complete certain objectives. A character's avatar will flash red if they are in danger and need assistance either manually or through covering fire from another, and flash white if that character has a strategic advantage or position which may aid the player's success in the mission.[4] Though the player completes missions as any of the three protagonists, the more difficult heist missions may require aid from AI-controlled accomplices who have unique skill sets such as computer hacking or driving, and they will take a cut from the mission's cash reward upon completion.[5] If an accomplice survives a successful heist, they may be re-used in later missions with improvements to their unique skills.[6] Employing different strategies toward the completion of a heist mission is also encouraged by the game; for example, in a holdup mission the player may subdue civilians with an agent if stealth is favoured, or storm the venue with guns drawn.[7]

The player character crouched behind a vehicle while in combat. The head-up display elements are visible on-screen.
In Grand Theft Auto V, the player may take cover behind objects in firefights to avoid taking damage from enemies.

Each character has a set of eight skills, which are numerical representations of their ability in certain areas, such as shooting and driving. While the player improves the skills of each character as they play, there is a skill assigned to each character that they have expertise in by default, such as Trevor's skill as a pilot.[8] In addition, the eighth "special" skill determines the effectiveness in performing an ability that is unique to each respective character. Michael will enter bullet time in combat, Franklin will slow down time while driving, and Trevor will deal twice as much damage to enemies while taking half as much in combat.[9] There is a meter on each character's HUD which depletes when an ability is being used and gradually regenerates over time when the ability is not being used.[10]

The game is presented as an open world; it is a large, open map which can be freely roamed when the player is not partaking in missions. Composed of the open countryside area San Andreas and the fictional city of Los Santos, the world is comparatively larger in area than earlier entries in the series.[11] The player can utilise a variety of vehicles to explore the game world and, to accommodate for the size of the map, the game introduces vehicle types that were absent in its predecessor Grand Theft Auto IV, such as fixed-wing aircraft.[12] While free roaming the game world, the player can engage in context-specific activities; for example, the player is given a scuba set to explore the underwater sections of the world, or a parachute to partake in BASE jumping. Each character is equipped with a smartphone which can be used to contact friends, engage in activities and access an in-game Internet.[10] The Internet can be used to purchase properties such as homes and businesses and access a stock market that allows the player to be a stakeholder in businesses; each character can earn income by purchasing businesses and selling shares.[12] The player can purchase upgrades for the weapons and vehicles in each character's arsenal, and customise their appearance by purchasing outfits, haircuts, tattoos and jewellery.[13]

Developed in tandem with the single-player mode, the online multiplayer mode Grand Theft Auto Online was conceived as a separate experience, which would be played in a continually evolving world.[14] In it, up to 16 players are given free roam over a re-creation of the single-player setting;[15] the plot is set two months prior to the events of single-player. Within the world, players enter lobbies to complete jobs, which are story-driven competitive and cooperative modes. The Content Creator toolset allows players to create their own parameters for custom jobs; examples include creating tracks for races and specifying spawn points for weapons in deathmatches.[16] Players can band together in crews, which are organised teams of players who complete jobs together. Crews from the multiplayer mode of Max Payne 3 can carry over to Grand Theft Auto Online, since the Rockstar Games Social Club connects the multiplayer experiences together. A player can be a member of up to five crews or create their own, and success in multiplayer matches earns the player experience points for their crew, allowing them to progress in online leaderboards.[17]

Plot

Nine years after a botched robbery in Ludendorff, North Yankton that left two of his accomplices dead and forced a third into hiding, former bank robber Michael Townley is living under witness protection with his family in Los Santos, San Andreas, adopting the pseudonym Michael De Santa. Franklin Clinton, who works as a repo man for a car dealership alongside his best friend Lamar Davis, is asked to reclaim a car from Michael's twenty year old son, Jimmy, who is overdue on his loan payment. Correctly deducing that his son is about to become a victim of credit fraud, Michael confronts Franklin and orders him to crash the car through the dealership. Franklin is fired, but he and Michael become friends. When Michael discovers his wife Amanda in bed with her tennis coach, he and Franklin chase the man to a mansion, which Michael destroys out of anger. However, the mansion belongs to Mexican drug lord Martin Madrazo, who demands compensation. They acquiesce, paying their debt with Madrazo using money earned from a jewellery shop heist with assistance from Michael's friend, Lester Crest. Trevor Philips, the only other survivor of the Ludendorff robbery, hears about the heist and, realising that the perpetrator could be none other than Michael himself, reunites with his former partner after tracking him down to Los Santos.

The personal lives of the protagonists begin to spiral out of control. Trevor's unexpected reappearance triggers reckless and erratic behaviour from Michael, which prompts his family to leave. Michael's attempts to make something of himself bring him into conflict with Devin Weston, a self-made billionaire venture capitalist and corporate raider who develops a grudge against him and vows revenge. Franklin is disturbed by the way Lamar falls under the influence of Harold "Stretch" Joseph, a gangster who defected to a rival gang in prison and who repeatedly attempts to kill Lamar to prove himself to his new brethren. Trevor's efforts to consolidate his control over the methamphetamine market in Blaine County see him waging war against the San Andreas chapter of The Lost outlaw motorcycle club, a number of Latin American street gangs, rival meth dealers, government-sponsored mercenaries and a Triad led by Wei Chang, one of the most senior figures in the Chinese criminal underworld.

Michael is forced by FIB agents Dave Norton and Steve Haines to perform a series of operations with Franklin and Trevor with the objective of undermining a rival agency, the IAA. Under Haines' direction, they attack an armoured convoy carrying funds intended for the IAA and raid a bank containing the payroll for all of the corrupt police and public officials in Los Santos, but Michael and Trevor are forced to temporarily hide in Blaine County after they perform a job for Madrazo and demanding compensation, Trevor kidnaps his wife. As Haines comes under increasing scrutiny for his methods, he forces them to infiltrate the FIB headquarters and erase any evidence being used against him from their servers. Michael takes the opportunity to wipe any data on his own activities in the process, destroying Haines' leverage over him. After Trevor returns Madrazo's wife, the trio start making plans for their most daring feat ever: raiding the gold bullion reserve from the Union Depository.

After returning to Los Santos, Michael makes amends with his family and they start living together again. Trevor, however, discovers that a former accomplice of them was killed during the Ludendorff heist and is not in prison as he was led to believe, but was buried at the grave that was meant for Michael instead. Trevor feels betrayed by Michael, which causes friction within the group and threatens to undermine their plans for the Union Depository. When Michael and Norton are caught in a Mexican stand-off between the FIB, IAA and private security firm Merryweather, Trevor aids in their escape claiming that only he has the right of killing Michael. Despite not forgiving Michael, Trevor agrees to part ways with him after they perform the Union Depository heist as planned.

The trio carry out the Union Depository heist, which is a success, but Franklin ends up being pressured by Haines to kill Trevor and by Weston to kill Michael. Franklin has three options: to kill Trevor, kill Michael, or let them live and face their enemies. Should Franklin kill either Michael or Trevor, he ceases contact with the survivor and returns to his old life. Alternatively, if he kills neither, the trio joins forces to withstand an onslaught from the FIB and Merryweather before going on to kill Haines, Stretch, Wei and Weston. With all their enemies disposed, the three cease working together, but remain friends.[18]

Development

Preliminary work on Grand Theft Auto V began shortly following the release of its predecessor Grand Theft Auto IV in April 2008.[19] The core 360-strong team behind the game was Rockstar North, who brought on board a number of other studios owned by parent company Rockstar Games to facilitate development between a full team in excess of 1,000 people.[20] Technical director Adam Fowler reflected that while development effort was shared between multiple studios in different countries, the process involved close collaboration between the core team and others, necessitated by many mechanics in the game working in tandem which would have created difficulties if studios were siphoned off from others.[21] Like other projects since Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis (2006), the game primarily runs off the proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE), handling animation and rendering tasks. For further animation and environmental tasks, the game utilises the Euphoria and Bullet engines.[22][23] By 25 August 2013, development of Grand Theft Auto V ceased as the game went gold, with the final copy being submitted for manufacturing.[24] Media analyst Arvind Bhatia estimated the development budget for the game exceeded US$137 million,[25] and The Scotsman reporter Marty McLaughlin estimated that the combined budget of the development and marketing efforts exceeded £170 million (US$265 million), which would make Grand Theft Auto V the most expensive video game ever made.[26]

The player character parachuting in a mountainous valley. Light particles, reflections and shadow effects are clearly visible.
Development was conducted on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 systems simultaneously. Having become familiar with the hardware, the developers were able to render the game world with greater detail than in Grand Theft Auto IV.

Like Grand Theft Auto IV, the game was developed for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The team found they were able to render the world of Grand Theft Auto V with greater detail because they had become familiar with the hardware over time. Art director Aaron Garbut opined that while the ageing hardware of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were tiring to work with, the team were able to render lighting and shadows in detail whilst "maintain[ing] a consistent look".[27] Vice president Dan Houser agreed with this sentiment, explaining that working on Grand Theft Auto IV with relatively new hardware was difficult, but "now we know what the hardware's capable of, so it's become a lot easier to move things along and a lot more fun, too".[28] Xbox 360 copies of the game are distributed on two discs and require an 8 GB installation on the HDD or external storage device, because of the capacity of the DVD format utilised by the console. Conversely, the Blu-Ray Disc format utilised by the PlayStation 3 allows distribution of the game on one disc.[29] The team asserted that any differences between the two versions would be "negligible" as they were developed in tandem.[30]

The central theme to the story of Grand Theft Auto V is the "pursuit of the almighty dollar".[31] The mission content is structured around the lead characters' efforts to plan and execute complicated heists to accrue wealth for themselves. The team's decision to focus on money as a central theme in the game was in response to the 2007–08 financial crisis, as the effects of the crisis on the main characters are the catalyst for them to attempt these heist missions.[32] "We wanted this post-crash feeling, because it works thematically in this game about bank robbers", Houser explained.[33] The team developed the story around the heists based on the positive reaction they received for the "Three Leaf Clover" mission in Grand Theft Auto IV, in which an elaborate heist was coordinated and executed by the lead protagonist Niko Bellic and accomplices.[34] Houser felt that while the mission was well-received, the team hadn't captured the thrill of the robbery sequence to the best of their capabilities and wanted to focus on achieving that in Grand Theft Auto V. "We wanted to have a couple of really strong bank robberies. [...] It felt like that was a good device that we'd never used in the past. Repeating ourselves is a fear when we're doing games where part of the evolution is just technological", Houser explained.[35] There are six such heist missions in Grand Theft Auto V, and many of the missions in-between them revolve around the efforts to coordinate the job and assemble a team.[36]

In order to reflect the advancements made in other games since the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, the team overhauled many of the shooting and driving mechanics for Grand Theft Auto V. The public reception of to the shooting mechanics of the team's previous games were taken into consideration during this process. Specifically, Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption (2010) and Max Payne 3 were scrutinised to clearly establish the areas that needed work in Grand Theft Auto V to make it succeed their previous titles.[4][37] To increase the pace of shootouts in the game, the team removed hard locking, which was a central mechanic in Grand Theft Auto IV that allowed players to instantly lock on to enemies within the vicinity of their crosshair. Asssociate technical director Phil Hooker explained that the team "found [hard locking] too disorientating and often broke your immersion with the game, as you didn't have to think about enemy locations".[38] Furthermore, the team introduced a timer that breaks the player's lock on a target after a period of time, in an effort to combat the problem they felt Grand Theft Auto IV had where the player could "just rely on holding and shooting until a target is dead", as Hooker explained.[38] Reworking the cover system in combat gameplay was another natural progression for the team. Remodelled on the cover system of Red Dead Redemption, entering in and out of cover such as low walls and vehicles is considerably more fluid in Grand Theft Auto V than in earlier entries in the series.[38] The team made an effort to rework the driving mechanics for cars and motorcycles as well.[37] Houser opined that the cars would handle better than they did in Grand Theft Auto IV, as he felt that they were "big and boatlike" in Grand Theft Auto IV whereas in Grand Theft Auto V the cars handle similarly to those in racing games.[39]

Setting

Initial work on Grand Theft Auto V involved designing the open world space, where preliminary models of the world were constructed during the game's pre-production phase.[40] The open world of the game is the fictional state of San Andreas, which is modelled on Southern California. San Andreas was also used as the setting for an earlier entry in the series, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004), which included three cities separated by open countryside. The world of Grand Theft Auto V, however, includes only one city, Los Santos.[41] By focusing their efforts on one city instead of three, the team were able to produce Los Santos in higher quality and at greater scale.[39] For both games, Los Angeles was used as the model for Los Santos,[42] but the team felt that the ambition of having three cities in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was too great and that the game did not emulate the cities as well as they had hoped.[43] Houser elaborated that "to do a proper version of L.A., [...] the game has to give you a sense of that sprawl — if not completely replicate it", and that dividing the budget and manpower between multiple cities would have detracted from capturing "what L.A. is".[39] Garbut felt that in the PlayStation 2 era the team did not have the technical capabilities to capture Los Angeles properly, resulting in the San Andreas rendition of Los Santos feeling like a "backdrop or a game level with pedestrians randomly milling about".[39] Therefore, the team disregarded San Andreas as a jumping-off point for Grand Theft Auto V, as they had moved on to a new generation of consoles since the former and wanted to build the city from scratch. As Garbut explained, with the move to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hardware, "our processes and the fidelity of the world [had] evolved so much from San Andreas" that using it as a model would have been redundant.[39]

The summit of an in-game mountain with eight billboards erected displaying letters that spell out the word "Vinewood".
The developers extensively researched Los Angeles and reproduced many of the city's landmarks in Grand Theft Auto V, such as the Hollywood Sign.

Los Angeles was extensively researched for the game. The team organised field research trips with tour guides and architectural historians and captured around 250,000 photos and hours of video footage during these visits.[27] "We spoke to FBI agents that have been undercover, experts in the Mafia, street gangsters who know the slang – we even went to see a proper prison", said Houser, pointing out the research and creation of the game world as the most demanding aspect of the game's production.[19] The team viewed Google Maps and Street View projections of Los Angeles, and the field research team then used the coordinates to capture the photo and video footage, which was then used to design the layout of Los Santos.[44] The team also studied virtual globe models of the city, census data and documentaries to recreate the geographical and demographic spread of Los Angeles.[39] Reproducing Los Angeles as a play space required condensing the city's spread into an area that the player could comfortably traverse, "captur[ing] the essence of what's really there in a city, but in a far smaller area", as Houser explained.[45] As The New Yorker's Sam Sweet elaborated, "[The] exhaustive field work [...] wasn't conducted to document a living space. Rather, it was collected to create an extremely realistic version of a Los Angeles that doesn't actually exist. The map of Los Santos is familiar but its contents are condensed".[46] Garbut felt that the team were not "dictated by reality" when designing the city, instead using Los Angeles as a starting point for the city's design.[40]

Research for the game took the team out to California's rural regions; Garbut recalled a visit he took with Houser to Bombay Beach which inspired them to set Trevor's initial story against a recreation of the Salton Sea.[40] Along with their attempt to realise a modern Los Angeles, the team created an open recreation of Southern California which includes a vast countryside surrounding the city proper.[47] A goal for the team was to balance making a world of great scale without creating an open, empty space. Therefore, they focused on condensing the open countryside of Southern California into a playing space that is as diverse as it is detailed.[27] The game world is 49 square miles (130 km2) in area, about an eightieth of Los Angeles County.[46] It is greater in scale than Rockstar's previous open world games; Garbut suggested that it is large enough to fit the game maps of San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption inside of it.[11] In order to accommodate the size of the world, the team overhauled the RAGE, allowing the game to render greater draw distances than in earlier entries of the series.[39] The large, open space also necessitated the reintroduction of fixed-wing aircraft, which had been absent in Grand Theft Auto IV due to the relatively small scale of the world limiting the effectiveness of flying.[48] "We wanted somewhere big [to allow the player to] fly properly", Houser explained.[36] In addition, populating the open world with wildlife was another demand the large space made for. As lead producer Leslie Benzies explained, "because of the scale of the map and the different kinds of areas involved, a countryside without animals would feel quite hollow".[49]

Characters

Grand Theft Auto V was envisioned to exceed the core mechanics of the Grand Theft Auto series by giving the player three lead protagonists to switch between while playing the game. The team's primary motivation to include three protagonists was for Grand Theft Auto V to innovate open world storytelling and prevent the series from feeling stale by not evolving the core structure of the gameplay.[50] "We didn't want to do the same thing over again", Houser explained.[39] The vision for three interconnected protagonists was first conceptualised during the development of San Andreas, but the team felt they did not have the technical capabilities at their disposal to realise it.[51] "It didn't work from a tech point of view because the three characters need three times as much memory, three types of animation, and so on", Garbut explained.[52] After the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, the team developed two episodic content packages for the game, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony (both 2009), each of which introduced a new protagonist. The positive reception received for having three intertwined stories solidified the team's confidence that building Grand Theft Auto V around this model was an innovative decision.[36] A single-player story revolving around three lead protagonists was one of Grand Theft Auto V's earliest design objectives. Garbut reflected that such a radical change to the core structure of the gameplay was a risk, recalling concern from the team that a departure from Grand Theft Auto's traditional single lead character set-up "might backfire".[40] In early conceptualisations, the game would have told three stories each through a different protagonist; later, a concept developed from the stories of Grand Theft Auto IV that story trajectories would meet throughout the game. Eventually, the concept evolved into three interconnected stories tied together through the game missions.[53] As Benzies explained, the team made the multiple character formula "integral to the structure of the gameplay as well as the narrative".[49] Houser therefore felt that Grand Theft Auto V is their "strongest plotted game because the characters are so intertwined" and that the "meeting points [between the character's stories] are very exciting".[11]

The team drew upon game protagonist archetypes during the scripting of each of the characters. Michael was considered to embody greed, Franklin ambition, and Trevor insanity. Houser considered how the team characterised Michael and Trevor as juxtapositions of each-other. "Michael is like the criminal who wants to compartmentalise and be a good guy some of the time and Trevor is the maniac who isn't a hypocrite", he explained.[28] He felt that having three lead characters would help move Grand Theft Auto V's story into more original territory than its predecessors, which traditionally followed a single protagonist rising through the ranks of a criminal underworld.[28] Ned Luke, Shawn "Solo" Fonteno and Steven Ogg portrayed Michael, Franklin and Trevor, respectively. Their performances were mostly recorded using motion capture technology,[43] with further work conducted in recording studios. During the initial audition process, Ogg observed a chemistry on-set with Luke which he felt helped land them the parts.[54] " When [Luke] and I went in the room together we immediately had something", Ogg reflected.[55] As the actors recorded their performances, Ogg felt Trevor's characterisation evolved over time. "Nuances and character traits that began to appear — his walk, his manner of speech, his reactions, definitely informed his development throughout the game", he explained.[55] Ogg cites Tom Hardy's depiction of English criminal Charles Bronson in the biopic Bronson as a strong stylistic influence on his portrayal of Trevor.[55]

The team found that introducing three concurrent protagonists evolved the freedom afforded to players in missions. Lead mission designer Imran Sarwar elaborated that multiple protagonists allowed different strategic options to open up in missions. He explained that in a combat scenario the player can set up Michael at a high vantage point with a sniper rifle to provide covering fire for Trevor, who provides a frontal assault on the enemy position, which allows Franklin to manipulate flank points.[56] Benzies felt that the character switching would eliminate a problem the team felt San Andreas had where the player would be exploring the open countryside and then have to drive a long distance back to a mission start point. In Grand Theft Auto V, the interplay of free roaming and mission gameplay is more organic because the player can switch between characters, solving the problem. "Having three characters allows players to explore the whole map without having to worry about the long drive back to their next objective", Benzies explained.[49] Houser further elaborated that the use of multiple characters could remove dead spots in missions, such as when one character has to drive to a meeting point, as the player can switch to another character and be pulled into the action of the game more quickly.[39] The game also includes dynamic mission content, a response by the team to the positive reaction for its inclusion in Red Dead Redemption. Dynamic missions present themselves to the player while exploring the game world and the player can choose to either engage in them, or ignore them. The team developed the concept of dynamic mission content further in Grand Theft Auto V by not just delivering it in the open sections of the world, but in Los Santos as well; for example, the player can happen upon an armoured van in the city and attempt to intercept it to steal its contents.[39]

Music

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"Welcome to Los Santos", Grand Theft Auto V's main theme, was composed by Oh No. He collaborated with several other musicians to produce original music for the game.

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Grand Theft Auto V is the first entry in the series to make use of an original score.[57] Music supervisor Ivan Pavlovich noted that creating original score for the game was "daunting" given that it would be a first for the series.[58] Like previous entries in the series, the game also contains licensed music tracks provided by an in-game radio. Pavlovich noted that the team did not want the original music to detract from the use of licensed music as well, but rather to accompany it.[59] To work on the score, Rockstar brought The Alchemist, Oh No and Tangerine Dream on board with Woody Jackson, who had collaborated with the team on three previous projects, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire (2011) and Max Payne 3.[60] In collaboration with each other, the team of producers composed twenty hours of music which scores the game's missions.[61] In addition, music will play dynamically throughout the game in both the single-player and multiplayer modes.[36] Pavlovich noted that at times Rockstar would give the team missions to specifically provide score for, but that some of the team's music composed for no specific purpose would influence some other missions and provide jumping-off points for further score development. He noted what he described as a "stem-based" system to make the music fit dynamic factors in the game; after a piece of music was assigned to a particular mission, the team would compose music to underscore outcomes the player could make after completing it.[58]

Early in Grand Theft Auto V's development, the music team were shown an early build of the game before conducting production on the score. Their work on the score was mostly complete later in the game's development, but they continued composing up until the final build of the game had to be submitted for manufacturing. Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream's founding member, was initially uninterested in being involved in music production on the game. After being flown into the studio and shown the game, he had a change of heart, impressed by the game's scale and cinematic nature. Froese's initial eight months of work on the score produced 62 hours of music.[58] He recorded with Tangerine Dream in Austria, but further work was mainly conducted at Jackson's studio in the United States, which The Alchemist and Oh No accessed.[59] Jackson, who upon learning that the composers would be building off each-other's work, expressed concern that the finished product could end up disjointed. His initial work on the game was to provide score for Trevor's missions, citing The Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Age as stylistic influences during this process. After sending his efforts around to the other members of the team, Jackson was impressed by Froese's contributions to his work. "Edgar evolved the music, made it into a whole other thing", he noted.[58] Froese had taken Jackson's hip hop-influenced work and interpolated it with a funky sound. Froese and Jackson also sent their efforts between The Alchemist and Oh No, who heavily sampled their work. "We were sampling, taking a piece form here, a piece from there. [...] We pitched stuff up, chopped it, tweaked it. Then we chose the tracks that worked and everyone came in and layered on that", recalled The Alchemist.[58] DJ Shadow then mixed the team's creations together and appropriated it for the gameplay.[58]

Flying Lotus (left), Nate Williams and Stephen Pope of Wavves (top right), and DJ Pooh (bottom right) in a recording studio working on Grand Theft Auto V's music.

In developing the radio stations, the team at Rockstar sought to reinforce the game's recreation of California by licensing tracks they felt appropriately echoed a "Cali feel". On the inclusion of the pop station Non-Stop-Pop FM, Pavlovich noted "the first time you get off an airplane in L.A. and you hear the radio and the pop just seeps out... We wanted that. It really connects you to the world".[58] He felt that music licensing for the game involved a greater discernment than in Grand Theft Auto IV, as the music in Grand Theft Auto V played a greater role in building a Californian atmosphere.[58] "It reflects the environment in which the game is set", he explained.[59] Initially, the team planned to license over 900 tracks for the radio, but over time they refined the total number of tracks to 241.[58] The tracks are shared between fifteen stations, and the radio also includes two talk-back stations.[61] Some of the tracks were written specifically for the game; for example, rapper and producer Flying Lotus hosts the station FlyLo FM which includes original work he composed for the game.[61] As Pavlovich noted, for each of the radio stations, over time the team would develop an understanding of where the station's music was going and then select a DJ to host the station. Each station's DJ was selected with the mindset that they would match the genre of music the station hosts; for example, in developing Los Santos Rock Radio the team licensed classic rock tracks, and thus Kenny Loggins became a fitting choice for the station's DJ.[58] Pavlovich noted that striking a balance between the radio and the score was a meticulous process. He cited a mission template as an example where the player would drive to an objective while listening to the radio, with the score then beginning once the player left the vehicle and proceeded into the next stage of the mission.[59]

Release

The existence of Grand Theft Auto V was first acknowledged by Rockstar Games on 25 October 2011, through an announcement on their official website and their Twitter page.[62] Shares of the publisher's parent company, Take-Two Interactive, increased seven percent following the announcement.[63] Journalists noted that the announcement of Grand Theft Auto V ignited significant anticipation within the gaming industry, which they owed to the cultural significance of the Grand Theft Auto franchise and the fact that Grand Theft Auto V would be one of the last titles to be released exclusively for the seventh generation of video game consoles.[64]

As part of the promotional effort, the game was extensively marketed through video trailers and press demos. The debut trailer released on 2 November 2011, accompanied by a press release which confirmed the setting of the game.[65][66] Almost a year later, the staff at Game Informer ran a cover story on Grand Theft Auto V for their December 2012 issue of the magazine.[39] Along with the cover story, Rockstar intended to release the second promotional trailer on 2 November 2012, marking a one-year anniversary since the debut trailer's release. However, these plans were hampered by Hurricane Sandy, which severed power in Rockstar's New York offices.[67] The trailer eventually released on 14 November 2012, introducing its viewers to the back-stories of the lead protagonists.[68] To reveal the game's cover art, Rockstar contracted artists to paint a mural on a wall in Manhattan, New York on 31 March 2013,[69] followed by the digital release on 2 April.[70] English model Shelby Welinder portrayed a blonde beach goer in promotional artworks for the game.[71]

Throughout 2013, Rockstar extensively marketed the game with several more trailers and press showings, concluding with the final launch trailer on 29 August.[72] Viral marketing strategies were also employed; visitors to The Epsilon Program website (a fictional religious cult within the Grand Theft Auto universe), had the chance to register for The Epsilon Program. After users had filled out a form to join the cult, the terms and conditions revealed the site to be a casting call giving five people the chance to appear in Grand Theft Auto V as a member of the fictional religious cult.[73][74] The official Grand Theft Auto V website was redesigned on 13 August 2013 to provide viewers with an insight into activities and locales within the game's world, as well as examining the story of the lead protagonists.[75] Further information was released on the website in update blocks on 24 August,[76] 6 September,[77] and 13 September.[78]

To encourage pre-order sales for the game, Rockstar collaborated with several retail outlets to provide special edition versions of the game. The "Special Edition", for example, includes a unique case packaging for the game, a game map and unlock codes for additional content for use in the single-player and multiplayer modes of the game.[79] The publisher also collaborated with Sony to release a 500 GB PlayStation 3 console which includes a copy of the game and a 30-day trial membership for the PlayStation Plus service, as well as set of Grand Theft Auto V branded headphones.[80] All pre-orders of the game grant the purchaser with an access code for the in-game aircraft, Atomic Blimp.[79]

FeaturesStandardSpecial EditionCollector's Edition
Game discYesYesYes
Access to Atomic BlimpPre-order onlyPre-order onlyPre-order only
Steelbook with "V" logo artworkNoYesYes
Blueprint map (Los Santos and Blaine County)NoYesYes
Special ability boostNoYesYes
Stunt plane trialsNoYesYes
Bonus outfits, tattoos, etc.NoYesYes
Additional weaponsNoYesYes
Security deposit bagNoNoYes
Grand Theft Auto V keyNoNoYes
New Era capNoNoYes
Custom Grand Theft Auto Online charactersNoNoYes
Unique vehicles and garage propertyNoNoYes

The iFruit application was released for iOS devices shortly before the game's release and allows players to customise vehicles, create custom license plates and teach Franklin's dog Chop new tricks, which unlock additional in game-abilities.[81] Upon iFruit's launch, some users reported problems connecting to the application's servers,[82] issues resolved by means of an update on 25 September 2013.[83] iFruit was later released for Android devices on 29 October 2013.[84]

Grand Theft Auto Online launched on 1 October 2013, two weeks after the initial release of Grand Theft Auto V.[85] Upon launch, users reported difficulties connecting to the game's servers and the Social Club service, or freezes during load screens for early missions.[86][87] A technical patch was released on 5 October for consoles in response, resolving the issues;[88] content micro-transactions were also suspended as a fail-safe.[89] Problems persisted during the second week of launch, as some players reported progress for their characters disappearing.[90] In response, another technical patch was released on 10 October combating the issues, with advice administered to players experiencing the issues to not create their multiplayer avatars again.[91] As compensation to players for the technical issues, a stimulus of GTA$500,000, an in-game currency, was funded to the accounts of all players connected to the mode since launch.[92] Post-release content is continually added to Grand Theft Auto Online through title updates; for example, the free Beach Bum update, released on 19 November 2013, adds additional jobs and customisation content for players.[93]

Rockstar have announced that they plan to release downloadable content for the game in 2014, expanding the single-player mode and creating new story for the lead characters.[94]

Reception

Reception
Aggregate scores
AggregatorScore
GameRankings(PS3) 97.01%[95]
(X360) 96.20%[96]
Metacritic(PS3) 97/100[97]
(X360) 97/100[98]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Computer and Video Games10/10[99]
Game Informer9.75/10[100]
GameSpot9/10[101]
IGN10/10[102]
Joystiq4.5/5 stars[103]
Play Magazine97/100[104]
The Escapist3.5/5 stars[105]

Grand Theft Auto V was released to critical acclaim; reviewers cited the game's multiple lead character formula, presentation and open world gameplay as its strengths. According to review aggregating website Metacritic, the game received an average review score of 97/100 for both consoles,[97][98] and according to GameRankings, the game received an average review score of 97.01% and 96.20% for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, respectively.[95][96] GameRankings rates its as the second-best reviewed PlayStation 3 game, behind Grand Theft Auto IV, and third-best reviewed Xbox 360 game, behind its predecessor and The Orange Box.[106] It is also currently the fifth-highest rated game on Metacritic, tying with multiple other games, and behind only The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, SoulCalibur and Grand Theft Auto IV.[107]

Acclaim was directed towards the character switching element for broadening the scope of action sequences and allowing the player to explore the game world more freely. Matt Bertz of Game Informer found that with multiple characters available for play during many of the missions, the pace of shootouts increased by keeping the player "in the thick of the action".[100] Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer noted the character switching allowed the player to be more tactical in their approach to shootouts by setting up the characters in different strategical outposts, resulting in "far fewer standard shooting galleries" than previous Grand Theft Auto games.[108] Keza MacDonald of IGN reflected Bramwell's opinion, explaining that giving the player multiple characters prevented missions from being "formulaic" by affording the player choice over how they approach action sequences.[102] The staff at Edge further directed praise towards the character switching for allowing the player to progress through the game without long drives to mission start points, eliminating travel times by taking control of a character closer to the start point.[109] Jeff Bakalar at CNET noted that the character switching element removed favouritism for one particular character by encouraging the player to engage with all three.[110]

Reviewers directed praise toward the heist missions for underpinning the story and serving as the most memorable gameplay sequences. Bramwell praised the heist missions for their sense of scope, opining that "each heist has a blockbuster set-piece feel to it".[108] Carolyn Petit of GameSpot agreed with Bramwell, noting the 1995 film Heat as a stylistic influence on the heist's set pieces, "in which the slow build up to the crimes makes the payoff in the action-packed scenes more intense".[101] Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb regarded the heist missions as a welcome deviation from typical Grand Theft Auto mission structure, praising the game for giving freedom to the player in their approach for each heist.[111] Reviews praised the customisation afforded the player on each heist mission. Xav de Matos of Joystiq found that the player must be methodical when planning their approach and crew members, praising the game for encouraging creativity with each mission.[103] Edge praised a curve in difficulty of the heist missions as the game progressed, pointing out that the player must take more time planning the later-stage heists.[109] Chris Plante of Polygon praised the cinematic nature of the heists' action sequences as a result of the character switching ability, concluding the ability is "akin to film editing, with the player serving as editor, switching rapidly to the most interesting perspective for any moment".[112]

The player character with their back to the camera, and the sprawl of an urban city centre in front of them.
Los Santos, a city featured in Grand Theft Auto V. Reviewers directed praise at the game world, complimenting its draw distances.

Reviewers praised the scale of the open world, complimenting its realisation of Los Angeles as authentic and exceeding Grand Theft Auto IV's world. Bramwell and Jim Sterling of Destructoid praised the game for streamlining the geography of Los Angeles into a diverse and well-designed city space.[3][108] Brandon Jones of GameTrailers noted the effort put in by the developers to create an open world reminiscent of Los Angeles and Californian culture, through its "interesting patchwork of Los Angeles landmarks" and the interactions the player has with contextually appropriate NPCs throughout the game.[113] Edge identified the graphical fidelity as a factor that helped make the world enjoyable to play in, singling out the lighting and absence of load screens as strengths.[109] Luke Albiges of Play further complimented the draw distances, as well as the weather and lighting systems.[104] Mikel Reparez of Official Xbox Magazine noted the contrasting atmospheres between Liberty City and Los Santos, offering praise for the game's departure from Grand Theft Auto IV's "grey and gritty" Liberty City;[114] Joel Gregory of PlayStation Official Magazine also noted the contrast, concluding Los Santos is "far more appealing".[115] MacDonald praised the openness of the world and found exploring it enjoyable, while also praising Los Santos as a step up from Liberty City.[102] Many praised the game and its world as a satire of contemporary American culture.[3][102][103][108][115]

The refinements made to the game's mechanics, such as shooting and driving, were singled out by critics as making the game accessible and fun. Many favoured the responsiveness of land-based vehicles in Grand Theft Auto V over previous entries, noting that they were easier to control.[101][104][114][115] "Cars have a proper sense of weight, while retaining the agility necessary for navigating through traffic at high speeds", Bertz explained.[100] The tighter shooting mechanics were also received positively by most critics.[100][101] MacDonald praised the auto-aim and cover systems;[102] Sterling, however, felt that in spite of the improvements, "the auto-targeting system is twitchy and unreliable, while cover mechanics still come off as dated and unwieldy".[3] Edge opined that many refinements were influenced by previous Rockstar-developed games; for example, the vehicles handle similarly to those in Midnight Club: Los Angeles.[109] Tom Hoggins of The Telegraph noted mission checkpoints as a long overdue inclusion;[116] MacDonald felt that "at long last, Rockstar has finally slain one of its most persistent demons, mission checkpointing".[102]

The story and characters, particularly Trevor, polarised reviewers. Hollander Cooper of GamesRadar felt that in previous Grand Theft Auto games, inconsistencies in character development were brought out by a single lead protagonist whose moral complex was muddled, but that the contrasting personalities of the lead protagonists in Grand Theft Auto V allowed for a tighter and more engaging story.[117] MacDonald praised the story for revolving around three lead characters who developed in complexity over the course of the game, creating "excellent pacing and great variety in the storyline".[102] Edge agreed with her, noting each character juxtaposed the other by their background and personalities, singling out Trevor as the stand-out, which they owed to his volatile personality.[109] Like Edge, Petit considered Trevor "a truly horrible, terrifying, psychotic human being—and a terrific character".[101] Bramwell, however, felt that Trevor undermined the other characters because he was a "shallow and unconvincing" sensationalised anti-hero, and that "his antics derail[ed] the narrative" and overshadowed the character development of Michael and Franklin.[108] de Matos found all three characters unlikable to the extent that they had an alienating effect on the story, noting that "though each character has a valid motivation for his journey, it's difficult to want them to succeed". He also felt that the ambivalence between Michael and Trevor was a tired device by the story's conclusion as it became a "seemingly endless cycle" of conflict between them, whereas Franklin was the only character "that achieve[d] any meaningful growth".[103] Greg Tito of The Escapist felt the characters suffered from a lack of likeability by acting out of greed, with no sense of morality to "pull [the player] along in supporting them".[105]

Overall, Grand Theft Auto V was praised in several reviews as one of the best games of the seventh generation era, and was applauded as a great closing title before the emergence of the eighth generation era. It was hailed by MacDonald as a "landmark" and "one of the very best video games ever made",[102] while PlayStation Universe's Kyle Prahl called Grand Theft Auto V a "masterpiece" and "one of the greatest games ever made".[118] XGN's Sebastiaan Quekel named the game "the magnum opus of the current generation",[119] while Gregory considered it the "finest game of the generation".[115] Reparaz and Cooper called Grand Theft Auto V "one of the most impressive games" and "one of the most exciting games" of its generation, respectively.[114][120] Identifying Grand Theft Auto V as a "near-perfect gaming experience", Gameplanet's James Cullinane touted it as a game that was "defining a generation", and believed it to be "the last word on this generation of gaming".[121] Prahl complimented the game as a "stunning triumph" that "gives this console generation the send-off it deserves".[118] Reparaz labelled it "a great last hurrah before we step up to the next [generation]",[114] with Gregory opining that the game would "make next-gen look bad for a long time to come".[115] Simon Miller of VideoGamer.com concluded Grand Theft Auto V is "the ultimate swansong for this console cycle", and further added that it would "cast a long shadow over the next [console cycle] too".[122] Plante observed that the game would be "a bridge between games' present and the future", before declaring it "the closure of this generation, and the benchmark for the next".[112]

Sales

Grand Theft Auto V met with high commercial success. Within twenty-four hours of its release, the game generated more than $800 million in worldwide revenue, equating to approximately 11.21 million copies sold for Take Two,[123] exceeding the previous first-day sales record of $500 million set by Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The numbers nearly doubled analysts' expectations for the title.[124][125] Three days after release, the game had surpassed one billion dollars in sales, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history.[126] This broke the previous record set by Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which took 15 days to surpass $1 billion in sales.[127][128] Six weeks after the release, Rockstar had shipped nearly 29 million copies of the game to retailers, exceeding Grand Theft Auto IV's lifetime figures.[129] On 7 October 2013, Grand Theft Auto V become the largest digital release on PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3, breaking the previous record set by The Last of Us, though numerical sales figures were not disclosed.[130][131] On 18 October 2013, Rockstar released a digital version of the game for Xbox 360,[132] and went on to become the highest grossing day-one and week-one release on Xbox Live.[133]

In the United Kingdom, it became the fastest-selling game of all time, selling over 2.25 million copies in five days. This broke the previous record, set by Call of Duty: Black Ops at two million copies over the same period. Grand Theft Auto V also broke the day one record by selling 1.57 million copies, generating £65 million.[134] In two weeks, Grand Theft Auto V sold over 2.6 million copies, generating £90 million, which accounted for 52% of games sold September 2013.[135] After three weeks on sale, Grand Theft Auto V beat the lifetime sales of Grand Theft Auto IV.[136] In its fourth week, it became the fastest-selling title to break the three million barrier in the UK, thus overtaking lifetime sales of Black Ops II.[137] The game was similarly successful in North America: Grand Theft Auto V was the best selling game in September 2013, representing over 50% of software sales[138] and boosting overall software sales by 52% compared to September 2012.[139]

Among the Famitsu 2013 Top 100, a listing of the top 100 Japanese retail software sales for the year of 2013 from data collected by Famitsu's parent company Enterbrain, the PlayStation 3 version of Grand Theft Auto V ranked number 8, with 605,882 physical retail sales within Japan.[140]

As of February 2014, it has worldwide sales of over 32.5 million.[141]

Awards

Pre-release, Grand Theft Auto V was awarded for Most Anticipated Game by the Spike Video Game Awards in 2012.[142] After release, it received the Game of the Year award at the 2013 Golden Joystick Awards.[143] In the series finale of Good Game, Grand Theft Auto V was nominated for Best Game and Most Memorable Moment.[144][145] At the 2013 PlayStation Awards, the game received the Platinum Award and User Choice Award.[146] It received five nominations from the Inside Gaming Awards, winning for Game of the Year and Most Immersive.[147] The game received five nominations at Cheat Code Central's 7th Annual Cody Awards, with Rockstar North also receiving a nomination for Studio of the Year.[148] For the 2013 Spike VGX awards, the game was nominated for ten awards, winning two: Game of the Year and Best Soundtrack.[149] At GameSpot's Game of the Year 2013 Awards, the game was nominated for three Game of the Year awards: overall, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, winning the latter.[150] There were three nominations for the game at Game Revolution's Best of 2013 Awards, and seven nominations at Hardcore Gamer's Game of the Year Awards 2013, both of which nominated Grand Theft Auto Online for Biggest Disappointment.[151][152] Grand Theft Auto V won Best Game,[153] and was awarded runner-up for Best Audio Design,[154] at the Edge Awards 2013, with Rockstar North also winning Studio of the Year.[155] It later received seven nominations from Destructoid's Best of 2013, winning Best Multiplatform Game.[156] The game received two nominations at Giant Bomb's 2013 Game of the Year Awards, winning one,[157] and later received eight nominations at the Telegraph Video Game Awards 2013, winning two.[158]

In 2014, GameTrailers nominated the game for five awards, of which it won two.[159] It later received a nomination from The Escapist for Best Action-Adventure Game. At IGN's Best of 2013 awards, Grand Theft Auto V was nominated for a total of fifteen awards, winning seven of them.[160] At the 18th Satellite Awards, the game has been nominated for Best Action/Adventure Game.[161] Grand Theft Auto V has also been nominated for four awards at the 14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards,[162] and for nine awards at the 10th British Academy Video Games Awards.[163]

Three days after its release, Grand Theft Auto V was ranked second on IGN's list of "The Top 25 Xbox 360 Games".[164] Hardcore Gamer placed the game at number three on their "Top 100 Games of the Generation" list on 8 November 2013.[165] Time named it the best game of 2013.[166]

Controversy

Various torture devices, such as pliers and a gasoline tank, are laid out on a table to be selected by the player. A text prompt in the upper left-hand corner reads "Use Left-Stick/D-Pad and X to pick a torture weapon." Left-Stick, D-Pad and X are buttons on a PlayStation 3 controller.
The mission "By the Book" involves a sequence wherein the player selects torture equipment to use in the interrogation of a man. The sequence ignited criticism from many reviewers for its depiction of torture.

The mission "By the Book" generated controversy from reviewers and commentators for its depiction of torture. In the mission, Trevor interrogates a man, Mr K, in order to extract information about an Azerbaijani fugitive who poses a threat to the FIB. Trevor uses torture equipment on the restrained man, which the player selects from a table. Once Mr K provides the FIB with the information, Trevor is asked to kill him, but instead drives him to the airport lending him an opportunity for escape. While driving Mr K, Trevor monologues about the ineffectiveness of torture, pointing out Mr K's readiness to supply the FIB with the information without being tortured, and expressing that torture is used as a power play "to assert ourselves".[168] A sentiment echoed among reviewers that the torture sequence and Trevor's monologue served as a political commentary on the use of torture by the United States government, but that the mission was gratuitously violent and of poor taste. MacDonald acknowledged the mission as effective satire, but had difficulty playing it and felt it "pushed the boundaries of taste".[102] Similarly, Petit felt that placing the torture scene in context with the monologue created a hypocrisy in the mission's function as a commentary device.[101]

Bramwell composed an essay addressing whether the mission's political commentary justifies its violence and disturbing nature. He accepted that the Grand Theft Auto franchise is synonymous with controversy, but felt that in previous entries the player was detached from the violence thanks to the third-person camera, yet in "By the Book" the impact was accentuated through the close-up camera and quick time events. He compared the mission to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's "No Russian" controversy in its absence of appropriate context. He concluded defending the right of the developers to place the mission in the game, but described it as a "flawed sequence" that detracted from other areas of the game.[169] Dan Silver of the Daily Mirror, who was also uncomfortable with the mission's content, acknowledged it as a commentary device but felt that it was out of place and detracted from "the subtlety of Rockstar's message".[170] Keith Best of Freedom from Torture said the mission "crossed a line by effectively forcing people to take on the role of a torturer and perform a series of unspeakable acts".[171] In response to Best's comments, Erik Kain of Forbes defended the sequence, noting that the paradox of the violent torture scene with Trevor's monologue reinforced the mission's function as political commentary.[172] Labour MP Keith Vaz expressed concern that underage players could be exposed to the mission, stating that "it is important that the video game industry takes steps to fully inform the public about the level of extreme content".[173]

In addition to the controversy surrounding "By the Book", some commentators concluded the game's depiction of women is misogynistic. In her review, Petit observed misogynistic undertones in the game's treatment of women as "strippers, prostitutes, long-suffering wives, humourless girlfriends and goofy, new-age feminists", and felt that the game's satirical representation of misogyny legitimises it.[101] Petit's comments were met with backlash from some gamers; user comments on her review amassed 20,000, many negative, and a Change.org petition was started calling for her firing.[174] The community backlash against Petit was condemned by journalists;[175][176] Helen Lewis of The Guardian felt Petit's observations were valid, but were stigmatised by gamers who have become "hyper-sensitive to criticism".[177] Rob Fahey of GamesIndustry.biz (a subsidiary website of Eurogamer) agreed with Lewis, observing a resistance within the gamer community against criticisms of Grand Theft Auto V; "This isn't just about women – it's robbing every single one of us of the opportunity to have intelligent, interesting discussions about how our medium deals with [...] complex topics. [...] It's frustrating, it's stupid, and it's downright boring – and it risks making our games stupid and boring too," he wrote.[178] Subsequently, another article published in The Guardian condemned the potential for violence against prostitutes in the game.[179] Plante noted that the female supporting characters in the game were constructed on stereotypes, concluding "its treatment of women is a relic from the current generation".[112] Dave Cook of VG247 reinforced the sentiment that the female characters were constructed on stereotypes in an editorial; "They're either there to be rescued, shouted at, fucked, to be seen fucking, put up with, killed, heard prattling away like dullards on their mobile phones or shopping", he wrote.[180] Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times criticised the game's satirical portrayal of women as a lack of creativity on the part of the developers, expressing that violence and sexism were factors detrimental to the experience.[181]

Edge observed that while "every female in the game exists solely to be sneered, leered or laughed at", the game treated its all-male lead characters in a similar vein through their stereotyped tendencies towards violence.[109] Sam Houser, brother of Dan and Rockstar Games co-founder, felt that the development team sometimes overlooked their portrayal of women in Grand Theft Auto games, but felt that the game's weight towards male characters "fit with the story we wanted to tell".[182] Dan Houser responded to the criticisms of misogyny in an interview prior to the release of Grand Theft Auto V; "Is their (critics) argument that in a game about gangsters and thugs and street life, there are prostitutes and strippers — that that is inappropriate? I don't think we revel in the mistreatment of women at all. I just think in the world we're representing, in Grand Theft Auto, that it's appropriate".[33]

On 11 October 2013, former Death Row Records artist and Tha Dogg Pound member Daz "Dat Nigga Daz" Dillinger issued a cease-and-desist letter to Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive for allegedly using two of his songs without authorisation. According to Dillinger, Rockstar offered him US$4,271 to allow the material to be used in the game; he declined, but the songs were used regardless. The songs are "C-Walk" by Kurupt and "Nothin' But the Cavi Hit" by Mack 10 and Tha Dogg Pound, which were both produced by Dillinger and included in the West Coast Classics station. In the order, Dillinger and his lawyers requested "a better offer", or recall and destroy unsold copies of the game. Dillinger has afforded the publisher fourteen days to comply with the suit.[183] The result of the suit remains undisclosed.

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