Grand Theft Auto V

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Grand Theft Auto V
The game's cover art. The text "gRand theFt auto V" is in the centre, with the text "FIVE" written on a banner wrapped around the Roman numeral "V".
Developer(s) Rockstar North
Publisher(s) Rockstar Games
Distributor(s) Take-Two Interactive
Producer(s) Leslie Benzies[1]
Imran Sarwar[2]
Designer(s) Leslie Benzies
Imran Sarwar
Programmer(s) Adam Fowler[3]
Artist(s) Aaron Garbut[4]
Writer(s) Dan Houser
Rupert Humphries[5]
Composer(s) Tangerine Dream
Woody Jackson
The Alchemist
Oh No[6]
Series Grand Theft Auto
Engine RAGE, with Euphoria and Bullet Physics
Platform(s) PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release date(s) 17 September 2013
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player, online multiplayer

Grand Theft Auto V is an open world, action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 17 September 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game is the first main entry in the Grand Theft Auto series since Grand Theft Auto IV was released in 2008. Set within the fictional state of San Andreas, based on Southern California, the game's single-player story follows three criminals and their efforts to perform a number of heists while under pressure from a government agency. The game's use of open world design lets players freely roam San Andreas, which includes open countryside and the fictional city of Los Santos, based on Los Angeles.

The game is played from a third-person perspective and its world is navigated on-foot or by vehicle. Players control the three lead protagonists throughout the single-player mode, switching between them both during and outside of missions. The story is framed by the heist sequences, and many of the missions have shooting and driving gameplay. The player character's illegal actions, such as car theft or murder, may incite a response from the game's law enforcement agencies. The online multiplayer mode allows up to 16 players to explore the open world and engage in cooperative or competitive game matches.

Development began shortly following the release of Grand Theft Auto IV and lasted five years. The development team envisioned Grand Theft Auto V as a spiritual successor to many of their previous projects, such as Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3. The game's use of three lead protagonists is a break from series tradition—a design choice from the developers to innovate on the core structure of its predecessors. As part of their extensive research for the game's open world, the developers conducted field research around California throughout development and captured footage for the design team. Development duties were shared between many of Rockstar's studios worldwide.

As one of the last titles to be released for the seventh generation of video game consoles, Grand Theft Auto V was widely anticipated preceding its release. At release, the game was acclaimed by many reviewers, with praise particularly directed at the multiple protagonist design and open-ended gameplay. Critics were polarised by a scene depicting torture and the game's treatment of women. Some labelled the game as inherently violent and misogynistic. Grand Theft Auto V broke industry sales records and became the fastest selling entertainment product in history, earning US$800 million in its first day and US$1 billion in its first three days. The game won several year-end accolades, including Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications.

Gameplay

Grand Theft Auto V is an action-adventure game played from a third-person perspective. Players complete missions—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story.[7] Outside of missions, players can freely roam the game's open world. Composed of the San Andreas open countryside area and the fictional city of Los Santos, the world of Grand Theft Auto V is larger in area than earlier entries in the series.[8] The world may be fully explored from the beginning of the game without restrictions, although story progress unlocks more gameplay content.[1]

Players use melee attacks, firearms and explosives to fight enemies, and may run, jump, swim or use vehicles to navigate the game's world. There is a first-person perspective option when using vehicles. To accommodate the map's size, the game introduces vehicle types absent in its predecessor Grand Theft Auto IV, such as fixed-wing aircraft.[9] In combat, auto-aim and a cover system can be used as assistance against enemies.[10] Should players take damage, their health meter will gradually regenerate to its halfway point. If players commit crimes while playing, the game's law enforcement agencies may respond as indicated by a "wanted" meter in the head-up display (HUD).[11] On the meter, the displayed stars indicate the current wanted level (for example, at the maximum five-star level, efforts by law enforcement to incapacitate players become very aggressive). Law enforcement officers will search for players who leave the wanted vicinity. The wanted meter enters a cooldown mode and eventually recedes when players are hidden from the officers' line of sight (as displayed on the mini-map).[12]

The game's single-player mode lets player control three characters: Michael De Santa, Trevor Philips and Franklin Clinton—criminals whose stories interconnect as they complete missions. Some missions are completed with only one character and others feature two or three. Throughout single-player, players may switch between the protagonists at will by means of a directional compass on the HUD. The game may switch between characters automatically in single-player missions to complete certain objectives. A character's compass avatar will flash red if he is in danger and needs help, and flash white if he has a strategic advantage.[13] Though players complete missions as any of the three protagonists, the more difficult heist missions require aid from AI-controlled accomplices with unique skill sets, such as computer hacking or driving. They take a cut from the heist's cash reward upon completion.[14] If an accomplice survives a successful heist, they may be available for later missions with improvements to their unique skills.[15] The game encourages differentiation in heist mission strategies—for example, in a holdup mission, players may either stealthily subdue civilians with an agent or conspicuously storm the venue with guns blazing.[16]

The player character crouched behind a vehicle while in combat. The head-up display elements are visible on-screen.
Players may take cover behind objects during firefights to avoid taking damage from enemies

Each character has a set of eight skills that represent their ability in certain areas such as shooting and driving. Though players improve each character's skills as they play, each character has a skill with expertise by default (e.g., Trevor's flying skill as a pilot).[17] In addition, the eighth "special" skill determines the effectiveness in performing an ability that is unique to each respective character. Michael enters bullet time in combat, Franklin slows down time while driving, and Trevor deals twice as much damage to enemies while taking half as much in combat.[18] A meter on each character's HUD depletes when an ability is being used and gradually regenerates over time.[19]

While free roaming the game world, players may engage in context-specific activities such as scuba diving underwater or BASE jumping via parachute. Each character has a smartphone for contacting friends, starting activities and accessing an in-game Internet.[19] The Internet lets players purchase properties such as homes and businesses, and trade in stocks via a stock market.[9] Players may purchase upgrades for the weapons and vehicles in each character's arsenal, and customise their appearance by purchasing outfits, haircuts, tattoos and jewellery.[20]

Developed in tandem with the single-player mode, the online multiplayer mode Grand Theft Auto Online was conceived as a separate experience to be played in a continually evolving world[21] where up to 16 players freely roam across a recreation of the single-player world.[22] Within the world, players enter lobbies to complete jobs (story-driven competitive and cooperative modes). The Content Creator toolset lets players create their own parameters for custom jobs, like racetracks and deathmatch weapon spawn points.[23] Players may band together in organised player teams called crews to complete jobs together. Rockstar Games Social Club extends crews formed in Max Payne 3's multiplayer mode to Grand Theft Auto Online's. Players can create their own crews and join up to five total. Crews win multiplayer matches to earn experience points and climb online leaderboards.[24]

Plot

Nine years after a botched robbery in Ludendorff, North Yankton, that left two of his accomplices dead and forced a third into hiding, former bank robber Michael Townley is living under witness protection with his family in Los Santos, San Andreas, under the alias Michael De Santa. Franklin Clinton, who works as a repo man for a car dealership alongside his best friend Lamar Davis, is asked to reclaim a car from Michael's twenty-year-old son Jimmy, who is overdue on his loan payment. Correctly deducing that his son is about to become a victim of credit fraud, Michael confronts Franklin and orders him to crash the car through the dealership. Franklin is fired, but he and Michael become friends. When Michael discovers his wife Amanda in bed with her tennis coach, he and Franklin chase the man to a mansion, which Michael destroys out of anger. The mansion's owner, the Mexican drug lord Martin Madrazo, demands compensation, so Michael and Franklin perform a jewellery shop heist to pay their debt. Trevor Philips, the only other survivor of the Ludendorff robbery, hears about the heist and realises that it was Michael's handiwork. Trevor tracks his former partner and they reunite in Los Santos, although Trevor harbours animosity towards Michael as he had believed Michael died in the Ludendorff robbery.

The personal lives of the protagonists begin to spiral out of control. Trevor's unexpected reappearance triggers reckless and erratic behaviour in Michael, which prompts his family to leave. Michael's attempts to make something of himself bring him into conflict with Devin Weston, a self-made billionaire venture capitalist and corporate raider who develops a grudge against him and vows revenge. Franklin becomes disturbed by the way Lamar falls under the influence of gangster Harold "Stretch" Joseph, who defected to a rival gang in prison and repeatedly attempts to kill Lamar to prove himself to his new brethren. Trevor's efforts to consolidate his control over the methamphetamine market in Blaine County see him waging war against the San Andreas chapter of The Lost outlaw motorcycle club, a number of Latin American street gangs, rival meth dealers, government-sponsored mercenaries and Wei Cheng, a senior figure of the Triad.

FIB government agents Dave Norton and Steve Haines contact Michael and demand that he perform a series of operations with Franklin and Trevor to undermine a rival agency, the IAA.[a] Under Haines's direction, they attack an armoured convoy carrying funds intended for the IAA and raid a bank containing the payroll for all of the corrupt police and public officials in Los Santos. Michael and Trevor perform a job for the drug lord Madrazo, and Trevor demands compensation for their efforts. He kidnaps Madrazo's wife instead, temporarily forcing himself and Michael into hiding. As Haines comes under increasing scrutiny for his methods, he forces them to infiltrate the FIB headquarters and erase any evidence being used against him from their servers. Michael takes the opportunity to wipe any data on his own activities in the process, destroying Haines's leverage on him. After Trevor returns Madrazo's wife, the trio start making plans for their most daring feat ever: raiding the Union Depository's gold bullion reserve.

After returning to Los Santos, Michael makes amends with his family and they start living together again. Trevor, however, discovers that a former Ludendorff heist accomplice was not in prison as he was led to believe, but killed during the heist and buried in the grave marked for Michael. Trevor's feelings of betrayal cause friction within the group and threaten to undermine their Union Depository plans. When Michael and Norton are caught in a Mexican stand-off between the FIB, IAA and private security firm Merryweather, Trevor aids in their escape, holding that only he has the right to kill Michael. Without having forgiven Michael, Trevor agrees to perform the Union Depository heist as planned and part ways with Michael afterwards.

The Union Depository heist is completed successfully, and Franklin receives phone calls from Haines and Weston, who demand that he kill Trevor or Michael, respectively. Should Franklin kill either Michael or Trevor, he ceases contact with the survivor and returns to his old life.[26][27] Should he kill neither, the trio join forces to withstand an onslaught from the FIB and Merryweather before going on to kill Haines, Stretch, Wei and Weston. With all their enemies disposed, the three cease working together, but remain friends.[28]

Development

Rockstar North began to develop Grand Theft Auto V in 2008, following the release of Grand Theft Auto IV.[5] Development lasted five years and was conducted by a team of over 1,000 people, including Rockstar North's core team and staff from parent company Rockstar Games's studios around the world.[29] The game runs on the proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE), which was overhauled for the game to improve its draw distance rendering capabilities.[30] The Euphoria and Bullet software handle additional animation and rendering tasks.[31] Having become familiar with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hardware over time, Rockstar found they were able to push the graphical capabilities of the consoles further than in previous games.[4] Analyst estimations place the game's combined development and marketing budget at over £170 million (US$265 million), which would make Grand Theft Auto V the most expensive game ever made.[32]

Early work on Grand Theft Auto V involved designing the open world space, where preliminary models of the world were rendered in the game engine.[33] The game's open world was modelled on Southern California and Los Angeles. Key members of the game world production team took field research trips throughout the region,[34] and shared their photo and video documentation with the design team.[4] Google Maps projections of Los Angeles were used by the team to help design the road networks of Los Santos.[35] To reflect and reproduce the demographic spread of Los Angeles, the developers also studied census data and watched documentaries about the city.[30] The team considered the game's open world the most technically demanding aspect of the game's production.[5]

A fundamental design goal from the outset was to innovate on the core structure of Grand Theft Auto games by giving players control of three lead protagonists instead of one.[33] The idea was first raised during Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas's development, but contemporaneous hardware restrictions made it infeasible.[36] Having developed two Grand Theft Auto IV episodic expansion packs featuring new protagonists in 2009, the team wanted to base Grand Theft Auto V around three simultaneously controlled protagonists.[37] The team viewed the game as a spiritual successor to many of their previous games, and designed it to innovate upon the mechanics of games such as Grand Theft Auto IV, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3.[13][38] They sought to improve the action gameplay by refining the shooting mechanics and cover system,[39] and reworked the driving mechanics to correct Grand Theft Auto IV's difficult vehicle controls.[30]

After an audition process, Ned Luke, Shawn "Solo" Fonteno and Steven Ogg were selected to portray Michael, Franklin and Trevor, respectively.[40] Their performances were mostly recorded using motion capture technology,[41] but dialogue for scenes with characters seated in vehicles was recorded in studios instead.[42] Grand Theft Auto V is the first entry in the series to feature an original score, which was composed by a team of producers collaborating with each-other over a number of years.[43] The game also uses licensed music provided by an in-game radio.[44] The team licensed over 241 tracks shared between fifteen radio stations, with an additional two stations providing talk radio.[6] Some of the tracks were written specifically for the game, such as rapper and producer Flying Lotus's original work composed for the FlyLo FM radio station he hosts.[6]

Grand Theft Auto V was first announced by Rockstar Games on 25 October 2011.[45] They released the game's debut trailer one week later,[46] with an official press release acknowledging the game's setting.[47] The game missed its original projected Q2 2013 release date, pushed back to 17 September 2013 to allow for further polishing.[48] To encourage pre-order game sales, Rockstar collaborated with several retail outlets to provide special edition releases that added content to the game.[49] Rockstar also ran a viral marketing strategy with a website for a fictional religious cult, "The Epsilon Program", that offered users the chance to feature in the game as members of the cult.[50] Rockstar announced that they plan to release downloadable content for the game in 2014 that expands the single-player mode and creates new story for the lead characters.[51]

Reception

Grand Theft Auto V reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PS3) 97%[52]
(X360) 96%[53]
Metacritic 97/100[54][55]
Review scores
Publication Score
Edge 10/10[56]
Eurogamer 9/10[57]
Game Informer 9.75/10[58]
GameSpot 9/10[59]
IGN 10/10[60]
Joystiq 4.5/5 stars[61]
Play Magazine 97/100[62]
The Escapist 3.5/5 stars[63]

Grand Theft Auto V was released to critical acclaim. Among its strengths, reviewers cited its multiple lead character formula, presentation and open world gameplay. According to review aggregator Metacritic, the game received an average review score of 97/100 for both consoles.[54][55] GameRankings assigned the game an average review score of 97% and 96% for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, respectively.[52][53] GameRankings rates it as their second-best reviewed PlayStation 3 game behind Grand Theft Auto IV, and as their third-best reviewed Xbox 360 game, behind its predecessor and The Orange Box.[64] It is the fifth-highest rated game on Metacritic, tied with multiple other games and behind The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Soulcalibur and Grand Theft Auto IV.[65]

Critics concurred that Grand Theft Auto V was one of the best games of the seventh generation era of video game consoles, and a great closing title before the emergence of the eighth generation.[66][67][68] Chris Plante of Polygon observed that the game would be "a bridge between games' present and the future", and declared it "the closure of this generation, and the benchmark for the next".[69] Kyle Prahl of PlayStation Universe felt that the game "gives this console generation the send-off it deserves",[70] and Simon Miller of VideoGamer.com considered Grand Theft Auto V "the ultimate swansong for this console cycle" that would "cast a long shadow over the next".[71]

Reviewers praised the character switching mechanic. Jeff Bakalar of CNET felt that the game encouraged players to engage with all three characters.[72] Edge staff found that switching players was helpful for avoiding long travel times to mission start points.[56] Character switching was considered to improve the pace of action sequences as well, with Matt Bertz of Game Informer noting that players are kept "in the thick of the action" during shootouts.[58] Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer wrote that switching added a tactical element to shootouts since characters set up in strategic outposts would result in fewer "shooting gallery" situations than previous installments.[57] Keza MacDonald of IGN similarly felt that the feature gave players more choice in their approach and made missions less predictable.[60]

Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb considered the heist missions a welcome deviation from the typical missions structure of the series.[73] Eurogamer's Bramwell felt that the heists felt like "blockbuster set-pieces",[57] and Carolyn Petit of GameSpot cited the 1995 film Heat as a stylistic influence on their design.[59] Xav de Matos of Joystiq praised the game for encouraging creativity and methodical approaches.[61] Polygon's Plante likened rapid character switching during heist missions to "film editing, with the player serving as editor, switching rapidly to the most interesting perspective for any moment".[69] Andy Kelly of Computer and Video Games felt that the game's mission design was more diverse than and lacked the escort errands of its predecessors.[74]

The player character with their back to the camera, and the sprawl of an urban city centre in front of them.
Los Santos, a city featured in Grand Theft Auto V. Reviewers praised the design of the game world and similarities with Los Angeles. The departure from Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City was warmly received.

Reviewers lauded the open world design, some further complimenting the game for streamlining the geography of Los Angeles into a well-designed city space.[12][57] Brandon Jones of GameTrailers considered the game's emulation of Los Angeles authentic, and felt the open world is "full of voice and personality".[75] Edge directed praise at the game's graphical fidelity and absence of load screens.[56] Luke Albiges of Play further complimented the draw distances as well as the weather and lighting systems.[62] IGN and PlayStation Official Magazine (OPM) made favourable comparisons were made between Los Santos and Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City.[60][76] Mikel Reparez of Official Xbox Magazine felt Los Santos surpassed Grand Theft Auto IV's "grey and gritty" open world.[77] Many praised the game and its world as a satire of contemporary American culture[12][74][57][60][61]—Joel Gregory of OPM opined that "the scathing social commentary is, of course, present and correct".[76]

Reviewers praised the sound design. Jim Sterling of Destructoid called it "impeccable" and praised the actors' performances, the original soundtrack and the use of licensed music.[12] IGN's MacDonald also commented the licensed music selection, and added that the original score "builds tension" on missions.[60] Giant Bomb's Gertsmann agreed that the score helped enhance dramatic tension during missions,[73] and GameSpot's Petit wrote that the score "lends missions more cinematic flavour".[59] Edge said that the licensed music enhanced the city's "already remarkable sense of space" and that the original score improved the atmosphere of the gameplay. They summarised Grand Theft Auto V as "a compendium of everything Rockstar has learnt about the power of game music in the past decade".[78]

Many reviewers found the land-based vehicles more responsive and easier to control than in previous games.[56][59][62][76][77] "Cars have a proper sense of weight, while retaining the agility necessary for navigating through traffic at high speeds", Bertz of Game Informer explained.[58] Most noted the shooting mechanics were tighter than they had been in previous games,[58][59][60] but Destructoid's Sterling felt that in spite of the improvements, auto-aim was "twitchy and unreliable", and cover mechanics "still come off as dated and unwieldy".[12] Some reviewers felt the game solved a continual problem by adding mid-mission checkpoints.[57][60][79]

The story and characters—particularly Trevor—polarised reviewers. Some felt that the narrative was not as well-written as previous Rockstar games and cited the plot strengths of Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption.[57][58][61][77] Other reviewers felt that having multiple lead protagonists with contrasting personalities gave the narrative of the game tighter pacing.[12][56][60][69] Hollander Cooper of GamesRadar thought that Grand Theft Auto V negated inconsistencies in the story of previous entries, whose single lead protagonists had muddled morality.[80] GameSpot's Petit considered Trevor in particular a "truly horrible, terrifying, psychotic human being—and a terrific character".[59] Bramwell found Trevor "shallow and unconvincing", and felt that his eccentricities hurt the narrative and overshadowed Michael and Franklin's character development.[57] Joystiq's de Matos faulted the protagonists' lack of likability, and found the ambivalence between Michael and Trevor a tired plot device as their conflict grew into a "seemingly endless cycle".[61] Greg Tito of The Escapist had difficulty connecting with the characters' emotions since they acted out of greed with no sense of morality and thus gave players little reason to support them.[63]

Multiplayer launch

Grand Theft Auto Online reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PS3) 76%[81]
(X360) 82%[82]
Metacritic (PS3) 83/100[83]
(X360) 80/100[84]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 7/10 (8 October 2013)[85]
GameSpot 7/10 (11 October 2013)[86]
VideoGamer.com 9/10 (25 October 2013)[87]
Digital Spy 3/5 stars (17 October 2013)[88]
GRY-OnLine 7.5/10 (11 October 2013)[89]

Grand Theft Auto Online launched on 1 October 2013, two weeks after the release of Grand Theft Auto V.[90] Shortly thereafter, many players reported that they had difficulties connecting to the game's servers and the Social Club service, and others further reported that the game would freeze during load screens for early missions.[91][92] Rockstar released a technical patch on 5 October in an effort to resolve the issues.[93] The microtransaction system, which allows players to purchase game content using real money, was also suspended as a fail-safe.[94] Problems persisted the second week following launch, and some players reported their player-character progress as having disappeared.[95] Another technical patch was released on 10 October combating the issues, and players experiencing issues were told not to recreate their multiplayer avatars.[96] As recompense for the technical issues, Rockstar offered a stimulus of GTA $500,000 (in-game currency) to the accounts of all players connected to Online since launch.[97]

Because of the widespread technical issues present at launch, many reviewers bemoaned their experience with Grand Theft Auto Online.[86][89] Chris Carter of Destructoid criticised the "messy launch" and felt that Rockstar should have delayed it.[85] IGN's MacDonald considered her initial play sessions in Grand Theft Auto Online "disastrous",[98] and Liam Martin of Digital Spy reported glitches including loss of his character data. While generally praising the scope of the experience, he considered Grand Theft Auto Online underwhelming as beholden to pre-launch anticipation let down by its technical issues.[88] The character creation system was panned by critics, who felt that the system only produced unattractive avatars.[85][88][89][98] MacDonald of IGN noted an "addictive rhythm" to character progression and was enthusiastic about some of the job missions, although most eventually became monotonous.[98] GameSpot's Petit agreed with MacDonald, writing that "early on, your mission options are dominated by bland last team standing deathmatches".[86] However, reviewers generally recognised the open-ended exploration and dynamic content as Grand Theft Auto Online's strength.[86][88][98] Jon Denton of VideoGamer.com was particularly enthusiastic, and wrote that the "endlessness" of the gameplay made up for the technical issues.[87]

Post-release content is continually added to Grand Theft Auto Online through free title updates. The Beach Bum Update, released on 19 November 2013, added additional beach-themed jobs and customisation content for players.[99] Coinciding with the 2014 Valentine's Day, the Valentine's Day Massacre update added Bonnie and Clyde-themed content to the game for a limited time.[100] Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar's parent company, stated that by February 2014, 70 percent of Grand Theft Auto V players with Internet access had played Grand Theft Auto Online, and that the game's microtransactions system was the largest contributor to the company's digital revenue since Grand Theft Auto Online's launch.[101]

Sales

Within twenty-four hours of its release, Grand Theft Auto V generated more than $800 million in worldwide revenue, equating to approximately 11.21 million copies sold for Take Two,[102] exceeding the previous first-day sales record of $500 million set by Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The numbers nearly doubled analysts' expectations for the title.[103][104] Three days after release, the game had surpassed one billion dollars in sales, making it the fastest selling entertainment product in history.[105] This broke the previous record set by Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which took 15 days to surpass $1 billion in sales.[106][107] Six weeks after the release, Rockstar had shipped nearly 29 million copies of the game to retailers, exceeding Grand Theft Auto IV's lifetime figures.[108] On 7 October 2013, Grand Theft Auto V became the largest digital release on PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3, breaking the previous record set by The Last of Us, though numerical sales figures were not disclosed.[109][110] Grand Theft Auto V broke seven Guinness World Records on 8 October 2013: best-selling video game in 24 hours, best-selling action-adventure video game in 24 hours, highest grossing video game in 24 hours, fastest entertainment property to gross $1 billion, fastest video game to gross $1 billion, highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours, and most viewed trailer for an action-adventure video game.[111] A digital version of the game was released on 18 October 2013 for the Xbox 360,[112] which went on to become the highest grossing day-one and week-one release on Xbox Live.[113] As of February 2014, the game has sold over 32.5 million units worldwide.[114]

In the United Kingdom, it became the fastest-selling game of all time, selling over 2.25 million copies in five days. This broke the record set by Call of Duty: Black Ops at two million copies over the same period. Grand Theft Auto V also broke the day one record by selling 1.57 million copies and generating £65 million.[115] In two weeks, Grand Theft Auto V sold over 2.6 million copies and generated £90 million, which accounted for 52% of games sold September 2013.[116] After three weeks on sale, Grand Theft Auto V beat the lifetime sales of Grand Theft Auto IV.[117] In its fourth week, it became the fastest-selling title to break the three million barrier in the UK, thus overtaking lifetime sales of Black Ops II.[118] The game was similarly successful in North America: Grand Theft Auto V was the best selling game in September 2013, representing over 50% of software sales[119] and boosting overall software sales by 52% compared to September 2012.[120]

Awards

Pre-release, Grand Theft Auto V was awarded Most Anticipated Game at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards.[121] Three days after its release, Grand Theft Auto V ranked second on IGN's list of "The Top 25 Xbox 360 Games".[122] Hardcore Gamer placed the game at number three on their "Top 100 Games of the Generation" list on 8 November 2013.[123] Time named it the best game of 2013.[124] The game received the Game of the Year award at the 2013 Golden Joystick Awards.[125] In the series finale of Good Game, Grand Theft Auto V was nominated for Best Game and Most Memorable Moment.[126][127] At the 2013 PlayStation Awards, the game received the Platinum Award and User Choice Award.[128] It received five nominations from the Inside Gaming Awards, and won for Game of the Year and Most Immersive.[129] The game received five nominations at Cheat Code Central's 7th Annual Cody Awards, with Rockstar North also receiving a nomination for Studio of the Year.[130]

At the 2013 Spike VGX awards, the game was nominated for ten awards and won two: Game of the Year and Best Soundtrack.[131] At GameSpot's Game of the Year 2013 Awards, the game was nominated for three Game of the Year awards: overall, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and won the latter.[132] There were three nominations for the game at Game Revolution's Best of 2013 Awards, and seven nominations at Hardcore Gamer's Game of the Year Awards 2013, both of which nominated Grand Theft Auto Online for Biggest Disappointment.[133][134] Grand Theft Auto V won Best Game[135] and was awarded runner-up for Best Audio Design[136] at the 2013 Edge Awards. Rockstar North won their Studio of the Year.[137] The game won Best Multiplatform Game in Destructoid's Best of 2013,[138] and awards from Giant Bomb's 2013 Game of the Year Awards[139] and the 2013 Telegraph Video Game Awards.[140]

In 2014, GameTrailers nominated the game for five awards, of which it won two.[141] It later received a nomination from The Escapist for Best Action-Adventure Game. At IGN's Best of 2013 awards, Grand Theft Auto V was nominated for a total of fifteen awards and won seven of them.[142] At the 18th Satellite Awards, the game was nominated for Best Action/Adventure Game.[143] Grand Theft Auto V won Best British Game, Best Game Design and Best Multiplayer at the 10th British Academy Video Games Awards,[144] and Rockstar was awarded their Academy Fellowship.[145] The game also won Best Technology at the 14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards.[146]

Controversies

Depiction of torture

A man is strapped to an overturned chair with a cloth concealing his face. Player character Trevor stands over him with a canister, about to pour water on his face. A text prompt in the upper left-hand corner reads "Hold [Left-Stick] to pour water."
The mission "By the Book" involves a sequence wherein players use torture techniques including waterboarding in the interrogation of a man. The sequence ignited debate among journalists, who noted the mission's function as political commentary. Some felt that the use of torture was in poor taste, but others felt that it was necessary for the sequence's purpose.

The mission "By the Book" generated controversy from reviewers and commentators for its depiction of torture. In the mission, Trevor interrogates a man, Mr K, in order to extract information about an Azerbaijani fugitive who poses a threat to the FIB. Trevor uses torture equipment on the restrained man, which players select from a table. Once Mr K provides the FIB with the information, Trevor is asked to kill him, but instead drives him to the airport, providing him an opportunity to escape. While driving Mr K, Trevor monologues about the ineffectiveness of torture, pointing out Mr K's readiness to supply the FIB with the information without being tortured, and expressing that torture is used as a power play "to assert ourselves".[148]

Reviewers echoed that while the mission served as political commentary on the use of torture by the United States government, its use of torture was in poor taste. GameSpot's Petit felt that placing the torture scene in context with the monologue created a hypocrisy in the mission's function as a commentary device,[59] and IGN's MacDonald felt it "pushed the boundaries of taste".[60] In an editorial, Bramwell discussed whether the political commentary was overshadowed by the violent content, comparing the mission to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's "No Russian" controversy. He considered the sequence lacking enough context to justify its violence and summarised its function as "flawed".[149] Keith Best of Freedom from Torture said the torturer role-play "crossed a line".[150] Labour MP Keith Vaz expressed concern that underage players could be exposed to the mission.[151] Independent journalist Tom Chick defended the torture sequence, and wrote that unlike the "No Russian" mission or the 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty, "By the Book" had an underlying commentary that made the violent content necessary.[25]

Accusations of sexism

Some reviewers concluded that the game's depiction of women is misogynistic. In her review, Petit of GameSpot observed misogynistic undertones in the game's treatment of women as "strippers, prostitutes, long-suffering wives, humourless girlfriends and goofy, new-age feminists", and felt that the game's satirical representation of misogyny legitimises it.[59] Her review was met with backlash as users responded with 20,000 largely negative comments on the webpage and a Change.org petition for her firing.[152] Similarly, Polygon's Plante felt that the supporting female characters in the game were constructed on stereotypes, and wrote that the game's "treatment of women is a relic from the current generation".[69] Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times considered the game's satirical portrayals of women uncreative, and added that violent and sexist themes hurt the game experience.[153] Edge noted that while "every female in the game exists solely to be sneered, leered or laughed at", the game treated its all-male lead characters in a similar vein through their stereotyped tendencies towards violence.[56] Dave Cook of VG247 reinforced the sentiment that the female characters were constructed on stereotypes in an editorial: "They're either there to be rescued, shouted at, fucked, to be seen fucking, put up with, killed, heard prattling away like dullards on their mobile phones or shopping."[154]

But is their [critics'] argument that in a game about gangsters and thugs and street life, there are prostitutes and strippers—that that is inappropriate? I don't think we revel in the mistreatment of women at all. I just think in the world we're representing, in Grand Theft Auto, that it's appropriate.

Dan Houser, Rockstar head writer and VP for creative, The New York Times, 9 November 2012[155]

Petit of GameSpot's comments and the backlash against them prompted a wider discussion about the role of women in Grand Theft Auto V and the gaming community's defensiveness towards criticism.[156][157] Rob Fahey of GamesIndustry.biz felt that debate about games' thematic concerns could become stigmatised if gamers opposed criticism, writing, "This isn't just about women—it's robbing every single one of us of the opportunity to have intelligent, interesting discussions about how our medium deals with ... complex topics. ... It's frustrating, it's stupid, and it's downright boring—and it risks making our games stupid and boring too.".[158] Journalist Tom Bissell agreed with Petit's "defensible position", and wrote that gamers respond to game criticism more aggressively than fans of other entertainment mediums.[159] Sam Houser, Rockstar Games co-founder, felt that the development team sometimes overlooked their portrayal of women in Grand Theft Auto games, but that the game's weight towards male characters "fit with the story we wanted to tell".[160]

Legal actions

In October 2013, hip-hop artist Daz Dillinger issued a cease-and-desist letter to Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive for allegedly using two of his songs without authorisation.[161][b] American television personality Karen Gravano of the reality television programme Mob Wives filed suit against Rockstar Games in February 2014 in allegation that a character in the game is based off her likeness and story and was depicted without her consent.[162][c]

References

Notes
  1. ^ In Grand Theft Auto V, the FIB and IAA are fictionalised parodies of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), respectively.[25]
  2. ^ The songs are "C-Walk" by Kurupt and "Nothin' But the Cavi Hit" by Mack 10 and Tha Dogg Pound, which were both produced by Dillinger and included in the West Coast Classics station.[161]
  3. ^ Gravano is the daughter of former Gambino crime family underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano and she featured in the first three seasons of Mob Wives, which follows women whose husbands or fathers have been arrested and imprisoned for Mafia-related crimes.[162]
Footnotes
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External links