Written by Kodi Boyd
Hot coffee and rampant violence don’t seem like two things that should go together, but somehow one revolutionary game franchise manages to do just that.
The Grand Theft Auto series has aged and evolved as much as the players have throughout the years, with many of its longtime fans being sucked in from a young age, much to the dismay of sensible parents. Chaos, murder, drug trafficking, and countless other illegal activities await players looking for some wanton crime sprees and evading law enforcement from the safety of their own couches. With the official announcement of GTA VI trailer coming in December, both long standing fans of the series and new fans alike are excited for the upcoming release.
Grand Theft Auto
If what you need is some cathartic, violent release, look no further than the game that started it all, Grand Theft Auto. This game began the gaming revolution of today, and set the ratings censors ablaze. No one seemed prepared for the chaos that not only took place inside the player’s TV screen, nor the resulting chaos of the game’s release. Parents were furious that younger children could get their hands on a copy of a game that featured murder, rampant violence, among other criminal activities, leading many concerned parents to attempt to get the game banned and out of the hands of their small children. This led to many children to find a friend that had the, “cool parents,” that let them keep a copy and sneak over to their house to play. Getting down to the release of the game, however, the overall gameplay left much to be desired. Sure, the game itself was unprecedented at the time as far as controversy was concerned, but the experience got old quickly. There are only so many times you can steal a car, evade law enforcement, earn some points to go on to the next level, just to rinse and repeat. Grand Theft Auto 2 was released a couple of years later, with similar gameplay mechanics and a new save system, still dull by comparison to what the series eventually turns into.
The third installment of the franchise is when things get interesting, Grand Theft Auto III. Now players could see over the shoulder of their character as he fires a barrage of shots towards oncoming traffic, sets down explosives, walks away to a safe distance from the ensuing chaos that followed, only to go back to collect a few bundles of cash to afford some more ammo. Missions were much more in depth, and due to the free roam style of the map and vastly improved weapon selection, there were multiple methods of completing them. This is when the Grand Theft Auto franchise really kicks it up a notch and starts to create a true foothold in the gaming industry, allowing players to more fully immerse themselves in criminal activities and have a bloody good time doing it.
GTA: Vice City
The ’80s are calling, and players find themselves in a time warp in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Electronic music blares from car radio stations and bright colors dot the landscape of a fictitious mockup of Miami in this title. Players are once again thrust into a world of drugs, gang violence, and prostitution. The addition of the cheerful one hit wonders of the 1980s combined with the seedy underbelly of a beautiful city was enough for most players to keep coming back for more. Not to mention, whizzing by pedestrians on a motorcycle, narrowly dodging oncoming traffic never really gets old, and is made even better when your motorcycle is the cause of a 10 car pileup that you can take advantage of by tossing a grenade into haphazardly.
GTA: San Andreas
“I’ll have two number 9s, a number 9 large, a number 6 with extra dip, a number 7, two number 45s, one with cheese, and a large soda,” is one of the most iconic quotes from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and sums up quite nicely one of the main added aspects that makes this title stand out from the previous releases. Restaurants and various other venues can be explored, and players are required to keep their character’s basic needs met, or else their health is negatively impacted, and their character grows underweight and loses muscle mass. Going to the tattoo parlor doesn’t have to be something you can only do in real life, it can be replicated digitally, along with going to the gym for a workout to get those muscles in shape.
Players can even take a date out for a good time, heading to a local bar, taking them dancing, or on a slow Sunday drive. The Hot Coffee mod was found deep within the source code of the game, and depicted an explicit scene of the main character engaged in some, “recreational,” activities with his girlfriend, inciting the ire of the Entertainment Software Rating Board. The game was subsequently given an Adults Only rating, but Rockstar patched it quickly and removed it, allowing it to be re-released with a Mature rating, and it getting placed back on store shelves.
Skyscrapers, graffiti, and litter line the streets of Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV. Gritty realism replaces the once bright colors of prior entries into the franchise. Remember kids, drunk driving is bad, and this title allows players to get virtually wasted on alcohol and climb into the driver’s seat of a car and take off. While this is a frowned upon in-game action, and law enforcement will chase players, it didn’t stop Mothers Against Drunk Driving from encouraging Take-Two Interactive to change the rating to Adults Only. Building relationships with NPCs is encouraged for favors after successfully befriending them via a variety of side activities.
GTA V and Online
Players get introduced to heists in Grand Theft Auto V, adding a whole new element to coordination and teamwork, even in a single player game, as there are three playable main story characters. One of the most fun aspects of the story portion of the game is one of the main character’s relationship with their dog, Chop. Players could download an app on their phone that allowed them to train and take care of a digital pet version of the dog, which increased the relationship with the dog in game, and he could help find quest items or NPCs.
Super cars, explosions, and violent carnage await players in Grand Theft Auto Online, a nearly separate game inside of Grand Theft Auto V. After character creation, players are placed in an online server with other players. The aim of the online portion is to level up your custom character in order to unlock new weapons, clothing options, vehicles, and business opportunities. However, one of the most fun aspects isn’t even centered around customization options, it’s playing with friends. Gathering a group of friends together to do heists, go show off your expensive rides, or just leave an indelible mark on the current server makes the game worthwhile, even if trolls decide to snipe you from the top of a skyscraper as soon as you spawn in. That’s what friends are for, revenge.
The Grand Theft Auto franchise has evolved a ton over its lifespan, creating a legacy of controversy and giving players a place to explore the darker side of life. With any luck with the newest entry into the series, it’ll create another new success in a long lineup of history making video games. Whatever Rockstar has in store for the game, it’s sure to leave its mark like so many of its predecessors.