Analysis: Stevie Wonder, Skydiving, And Mid/Quarter-life Crises In ‘GTA V’

If “GTA IV” was about the perils of chasing the American dream, “GTA V” looks to be about the stress of dealing with it when you’ve got it–at least based on Rockstar’s new trailer.

New protagonists Michael (the older narrator), Trevor (the crazy bald guy), and Franklin (the young guy) are chasing the dollar and, if “GTA” history holds true, will fall in with evil, dangerous men. It also looks like an opportunity for Rockstar to tell three distinct but intertwined stories in their recently-announced shift allowing players to switch between the game’s three protagonists.

Let’s pick at the trailer a bit and see what new, interesting tidbits might be revealed.

(00:00 – 00:25) First off, we’re introduced to Michael, formerly into some as yet unrevealed shadiness, now wealthy and healthy on the West Coast. He’s also our narrator from the first trailer and it seems like with trouble on the home front, a son who’s a disappointment, he’s going through something like a mid-life crisis.

(00:26 – 00:38) And on the other side of the economic spectrum is Trevor. By the end of the trailer, Michael describes this lunatic as his best friend, and one of the game’s mysteries will surely be how these two hooked up. From the looks of it, this maniac is down on his luck and if he holds to type in this kind of story, he’ll be the source of many if not most of the complications in the plot.

(00:39 – 00:59) Finally, we’re introduced to Franklin and the first (obvious) intersection between any of the characters in the game. This repo man has his own troubles, trying to fill something in his life with cars and money.

So we have our players, but no real sense of what shape their adventure together will take or what central threat will unite them. I’m guessing whatever the plot is, for Franklin and Trevor, their motivations will somehow involve money, but it’s a bigger question mark what would cause Michael to pick up a gun again. Boredom? Because his best friend and “the son he always wanted” are in trouble?

Talking with our editor Clint Mize, he suggested that Michael’s journey may involve a bit family/”work” balance than in previous “GTA” installments. We also talked about how gratified we both were that this entry (seemingly) will be moving away from the relentless grimness of “GTA IV” which, while providing a platform for some provocative storytelling, wasn’t served well by an open world where you’re able to wreak endless amounts of mayhem. Here, the mayhem seems built in, with train crashes, Michael Bay-inspired car chases, dog chases, rappelling down the sides of buildings, and skydiving.

So what else does Los Santos hold? We’ll keep digging away at what Rockstar has released so far. Right now, they’re not talking to the press beyond the GameInformer piece, so in the meantime, it’s all about poking away at what’s out there to build a clearer picture of what the game will be like.

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