It happens every time. You enjoy the ride. The highs and lows of the narrative game arc. Some deep betrayal happens. Like what Lance did to Tommy in Vice City. Or Big Smoke’s slick moves against Carl in San Andreas. Or what Dimitri did to Niko in Grand Theft Auto IV. You murder, plunder and blast your way though a city of dregs and corruption to become the most dangerous civilian on the goddamn planet. And with GTA V’s 3 playable characters, narrative arcs and spiral loop-di-loops, realistic AI, the numerous hours spent packing heat, collecting shit like a hoarder and finishing every main mission, we are left with the GTA blues.
Even with the new online mode in GTA V, the ability to replay missions to get higher accolades does not help much. Actually makes things worse. In the old days of GTA, you could exit a shootout guns blazing, escape a relentless cop pursuit in a beat-up jalopy, with you life meter a millicurrie away from being Wasted! and , if you survived, that was enough. You lived through the worst of it. Mission accomplished. Now time to carefully drive through the streets in a gun-riddled stolen $500,000 sportscar looking for BurgerShot, trying not get into a fight or run into a cop car. Because as we all appreciate, fast-food truly can heal GSWs and stab wounds. Life imitating art.
But that was the old GTA. Now in GTA V, your survival and efforts are subjected to grading curves. ‘Oh, sure you were outnumbered 30 to 1, and you survived, but you didn’t do it in under 3 minutes so here’s a bronze medal’. Or ‘hey your shooting was top notch, but you only got 4 out of 5 headshots. Silver!’ Or as I like to say, the “Gold for Losing First”.
And when all the missions are done, we first go through a stage of gameplay I like to call “fuck it”. When you were on missions, you avoided the police, particularly since San Andreas as you can’t go into spray paint chopshops if you’re in the police’s view. You also used to avoid confrontation with your AI pedestrians while on a mission. Now, you steal cars on a whim, start beef with anyone, drive recklessly fast down a oneway street (not on a mission) and purposely start firefights with the police. You rob people for change, even though you are a millionaire. And to top things off, you jump off of tall buildings, effectively committing suicide, because you are too lazy to climb down the numerous access ladders. The process is just too long. You conquered a city and now you are bored. I guess there is a lesson in there somewhere. But with the chance to redo missions, online gameplay etc., Rockstar pretty much has added a week or two extra gameplay. Can’t be much more than that.
I think it’s just the nature of the game. There is only so much you can do and discover. Picking up trinkets strewn across city maps, other sub-activities to get obsessed or enthralled with. But in the end, when you become a rich, bored psychopath who will punch a cop to death for crashing into your stolen car while he’s pursuing some other carjacking dillhole, nostalgia of a time where your GTA gameplay was goal-orientated will surely send you feeling kinda blue. But hey, we surely will be here waiting for our next GTA fix.