“May Contain Content Inappropriate For Children.” Ironically, the official gameplay video for GTA V doesn’t show anything more inappropriate than what a lot of children saw about 20 years ago when Mortal Kombat hit the scene. If anyone is going to find this material controversial, it will be the politicians and parents seeking a scapegoat for any number of recent violent shootings in the United States.
The video starts playing that music – you know, the 1980s stuff you’ve heard a billion times by now. But the audio that accompanies the music is even more important to the GTA V marketing team: a pleasant female voice. The marketing team must have figured that her voice alone could make a lot of male gamers feel cool just by watching the trailer (and yes, there are female gamers, but we all know males dominate the gamer demographic – not to mention, perhaps a lesbian gamer or two might like the voice). And man, whoever wrote that script for the woman in the trailer knows how to put someone in a trance: “A sprawling, satirical reimagining of modern Southern California, covering mountains and oceans, expensive stores and strip malls, urban decay and untouched wilderness, beaches and backwoods, the sublime and the ridiculous, greed and hypocrisy.”
The lovely woman then tells you about the game’s three “would-be heroes,” a bullshit phrase if there ever was one. The first would-be hero is described as a “once-successful bank robber and now less-successful family man.” The second is described as a “hungry street hustler convinced he is surrounded by morons,” which is Rockstar Games’ not-so-secret code language for “black man.” To break up this monotonous nonsense, the female voice-over only has this to say about the third would-be hero: “The less said about him, the better.” The trailer tastefully shows a video of this would-be hero attempting to flush a human foot down a toilet, a scene that is neither funny nor satirical and certainly not believable or shocking.
The next part of the trailer gets to the actual gameplay, which is nice for something that calls itself an official gameplay trailer. The woman explains that you can switch between characters during missions for “new levels of diversity and intensity.” Of course, no one bothers to say that even though you might be able to switch to another vantage point to become a sniper, you’re still just a sniper in the end, with the routine duty of making well-timed kills. The vantage point might change, but is the meat and potatoes of the gameplay that different? The woman never answers this question.
Then that word flows from the woman’s mouth: “voyeurism.” You can see what other characters are up to when you are between missions. But why would I want to watch the lives of really dumb made-up people in a $60 game as opposed to the morons I could catch on reality television for free?
The female voice-over later informs us that the world of GTA V has a “vast array of things to see and do.” The problem is that I’ve already seen the things in the trailer in many other games (mountains, bridges, oceans, and dirt roads aren’t exactly new), and I’m willing to bet that the tennis, hunting, and plane segments in GTA V are not going to revolutionize their respective video game subgenres.
The worst part of the trailer is definitely the last minute or so, which shows off seen-it-before heist sequences and “sensible investments like tattoos and fast cars.” Seriously, I’m supposed to think it’s cool that I can get a tattoo in a video game? That I can drive a fast car in a video game?
I’ll tell you what: wake me up when Contra 5 is announced. Because with that, you don’t even have to get a woman to convince me that it’s going to be an awesome game. It just will be.