Sep 23 2009

An Unconscious Review Of Grand Theft Auto 5

I’ve been having vivid dreams recently, and one of them was a review of GTA5. I woke up and wrote down the fragments I could remember to type up later. Here it is.

GTA5 was on a screen, a videogame trailer. It might even had had a YouTube frame. The game was once again set in the parallel New York city of GTA4, Liberty City. (A game I’ve been playing a great deal recently.) GTA5 was, said a spokesman on the evening news, the best example of a city yet seen in a videogame, and so RockStar chose to build on that, rather than create something entirely new. It would feature new interactions, and your actual mobile phone, somehow. Did the game ring you up in real life to give you missions? Maybe.

While my dream told me that what I was seeing was my own review of GTA5, it was also a news analysis show. It had that classic dream logic, whereby I was able to identify all the discussion and ideas as my own, but Kieron Gillen and Alan Yentob were saying the lines, as they sat in leather armchairs in a TV studio to discuss the game.

GTA5 would, I/they explained, feature apartments across the city into which your character could walk, and rather than entering the living cutscenes of the previous games, he’d face a kind of dynamic soap opera, which would resolve in a mission. Each of the apartments contained the characters of popular sitcom, Friends, but these were placeholders, so as not to spoil the game for viewers.

Crucially, said Alan Yentob, the game was “a mindbomb of satire”. While GTA4 might have piled on the vicious mocking and black humour, this was a crafted, calculated assault on American culture that would remap the gamers who played it. Kieron agreed, sipping white wine as he explained how the United States was already on the precipice of a revolution, and would now be pushed over by a videogame that had pinpointed and exploded every hypocrisy and falsity in its culture.

“The game is so excruciating,” said Alan Yentob, “that no-one could ignore this shit any longer.”

Here’s hoping, eh?