Grand Theft Auto Needs Serious Tweaking

No major gameplay mechanic, including shooting, has ever been strong in GTA.

No major gameplay mechanic, including shooting, has ever been strong in GTA.

The hype over Grand Theft Auto V has reached disgusting levels. People have picked apart the GTAV trailers, scouring for nuggets of wisdom and fulfillment. IGN recently emphasized the “Exposed Penises, Marijuana, and a Brief Instance of Necrophilia” that will be included in the game’s “mature” content. I know some fans have their pants unzipped already.

One thing often gets overlooked in the GTAV coverage, though: GTA lacks good gameplay. For years, the series has had enough shitty mechanics for a Congressional hearing. Of course, bad gameplay will never stop fans from buying the latest GTA game. The fetish for criminal activity is too strong in gaming culture. However, if you’ve gotten over the whole “crime is cool” theme that has been played to death in American media, it’s easy to see how GTAV needs to improve the series.

Driving Mechanics

One might assume that a game based on a crime that involves driving would have solid driving mechanics by now. Hell no. Remember the game Driver on the PS1? Grand Theft Auto still hasn’t gotten anywhere near the tight and slick driving mechanics of a PS1 game released almost 15 years ago! That’s the biggest crime that has ever been committed in GTA. Supposedly, GTAV will have reworked driving mechanics. Let’s hope this is the case and not more hype.

Shooting Mechanics

If you want to feel like a badass criminal (zzzzzzzzzzzz), shouldn’t you be able to shoot worth a damn? Grand Theft Auto IV hilariously tried to fix the broken shooting mechanics of past GTAs with an uninspired cover system. Rockstar claims the shooting mechanics will be better in GTAV, but the following description from this article doesn’t sound that promising:


Targeting will feature three distinct modes in GTA V, including assisted aiming, traditional GTA and free aim.


“Assisted aiming gives players a larger targeting area as well as a little more help analyzing targets to try and pick the largest threat. Traditional GTA is the closest to previous GTA’s soft lock option. It shares all the characteristics of assisted aiming, with the additional ability to flick left and right between targets using the right stick.


“Another new refinement is that every aim mode now has a timer that breaks lock so you have to be more tactical in your approach – you can no longer just rely on holding and shooting until a target is dead.”


Sounds like Rockstar might be making this too complicated. Why bring back a system that you know pretty much sucks? Why not decide on one good aiming system? It should be straightforward. My suggestion? Throw in a laser light a la Resident Evil and be done with it.

Running Mechanics

I don’t like running, but I can run for a longer period of time than a GTA protagonist. In a pitiful attempt to be “realistic,” Rockstar has pushed the idea that a video game character’s legs need to get tired frequently. I would like to know one person who thinks this nonsense makes the game more fun or “immersive.” This person cannot be out of shape.

Melee Mechanics

Melee combat is another thing that GTAV will supposedly improve, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Thus far, the melee mechanics in GTA have been looser than an old trampoline. One fix would be a simplified version of Devil May Cry’s system. Even simpler, don’t make the character feel like a ragdoll during a strike.


It’s amazing Grand Theft Auto has remained clunky in every major facet of its gameplay. GTA’s popularity in spite of substandard gameplay speaks to the allure of becoming a petty criminal. But for me, a grown-ass man, this allure is not enough. GTAV can be the first truly revolutionary sandbox game since GTAIII, but including innocuous tennis and scuba diving segments (as shown in the official GTAV gameplay trailer) won’t get the job done. The core gameplay elements must feel right. Otherwise, GTAV won’t stand the test of time any better than GTAIV.


  1. The only bad area about this article is your referencing (including my article). Give me some better examples instead of just complaints and tell me what games do it better. I’d have to say when I started GTA 4 the driving was shit. I had no idea how to handle it. But then I saw that it actually had the best driving mechanics out of any sandbox ever made. Even Driver didn’t get the pitch and yaw right. Cars have weight. Cars easily flip. Thats something game designers tend to tailor off cars. BTW, you can sprint in GTA 4; faster than running unless your fingers get tired. I’ll hand it to you that the melee needs that overhaul after the two dimensional fighting in GTA 4. GTA 4 is about 6 years old, buddy, so you can’t really bash GTA 5 on mechanics that were conceptualized about 10 years ago near the start of a console generation. The cover system was shit, but every game thats used it since made it 10x better than GTA 4 (RDR, MP3, ect). This article didn’t give me any doubts about GTA 5, which it should have. I’m sure on Sept 17th I’ll be playing GTA 5 along with millions of other satisfied customers. If your into the whole “I’m the gamer and everything I do needs to be about me” game, try Saints Row. No where as good as GTA, but there fanbase needs people like you instead of nit picking a game that ALWAYS crushes its competitors

    • Jed Pressgrove

      ” … tell me what games do it better.” I already did. Driver has better driving mechanics (I could care less about a car physics lesson — all I care about is how the tight the controls feel); the Resident Evils that use laser aiming have better shooting mechanics; and Devil May Cry has better melee mechanics. As far as which game has better running mechanics, how about every game that allows you to run without the main character getting tired? Super Mario Bros. has better running mechanics than any GTA game to date. I’d rather hold a button for a run rather than tapping a button again and again to “sprint.”

    • Bahahaha, OK, I had to laugh. You just compared GTA to RE, Driver, DMC, and Mario (not to mention the “fix” to targeting that you called a laser sight, which will be in GTA 5). You could at least pick something a little more cohesive to your point instead of the entire spectrum of gaming. Maybe you don’t need a physics lesson, but a lot of games could. As for Drivers controls it comes down to preference. Yeah they were good, but they’re dated. They have problems, just as many as GTA 4. I really don’t get where your coming from with the running mechanics because in the broad spectrum of games, most of them give the played limited stamina. Honestly, this whole opinion piece is really narrow. It’s very specific to you instead of seriously calling GTA on faults. The sentence “GTA lacks good gameplay.” is a pretty bold statement as well. If the gameplay really sucked then I guess all the GoTY awards must’ve been mistakes? Do you seriously think that all the people that played and loved GTA 4 overlooked its “shitty” mechanics? I take my original criticism back. Having an opinion is one thing but spreading it as fact is another. Next time do yourself a favor and start your article title with “OPINION”.

    • Jed Pressgrove

      This article was not presented as news, i.e., cold facts. Fate of the Game has a news section; any other section, including features, will be more opinionated. You bring up Game of the Year awards; they are also opinions. I obviously disagree with people who called GTAIV the game of its respective year, but that is not the same as calling such an award a “mistake.” I trust that people are not mistaken when they tell us what their Game of the Year is.

      And if GTA is adding a laser to every gun (I’ve yet to read this), I guess my comparison to RE wasn’t that uncalled for, eh?

    • Well I respect your opinion. You’re not the first person to dislike GTA. I’m just saying that I enjoy the series and the majority of gamers do as well, so they’re obviously making it right. I play it for the adventure, not the crime aspect. I’m not playing this game to just shoot up cops and rob banks, but it leads to that. Loading up GTA and seeing where it takes you is what makes it fun, imo. GoTY may be an opinion, but more often than not it’s a consensus on what is a good game if not the best, which GTA wholeheartedly deserves. Right now I’d give GoTY to The Last of Us, but GTA 5 is lurking in the distance. It’s not just some dick swinging crime simulator for a desensitized fan base. And my point with the laser sight was that it doesn’t make shooting mechanics better; it usually provides more acurate crosshairs when used, but I didn’t need them in GTA 4, RDR, even in Max Payne which added the option, and my aim was fine.

    • If Grant Theft Auto was a shooter or a driving game exclusively, then I think I would be more inclined to agree with you. But the fact that it is an open-world sandbox game, it can’t be amazing in each area. Instead I think you will find most open-world games will do most things good or acceptable, rather than each mechanic brilliantly. That is because it is trying to do so much in one game. The pure size of the game is enough to mean that we won’t see the best shooting mechanics around. But I think GTA V mechanically will be way better than GTA IV, which you seem to be comparing most of the stuff to.

      To be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed GTA IV, when I was playing it (and trust me I have probably sunk hundreds of hours into it) I never thought that the driving needed a massive improvement, same with the shooting. I quite enjoyed the driving, compared to games like Saint’s Row and others at that time, GTA was by far the most enjoyable. I fully understand your points, but the type of game it is the amount of stuff I can do within the world makes me pay less attention to the shooting mechanics and driving (Which weren’t terrible anyway).

      Still, I respect your article and your opinion. It would be a mad world if everyone agreed? :)

  2. Who the hell cares

    Being a bitch about this game wont make you more popular.
    I think this game will be just fine.

    • Jed Pressgrove

      Ask yourself something: would someone trying to be popular bash Grand Theft Auto?

      As I said in the article, GTAV can be the best sandbox game since GTAIII, but it must have smooth gameplay.

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