This Is What Makes Grand Theft Auto V So Special

With the debut of Grand Theft Auto V’s gameplay trailer, gamers around the world are collectively fired up about diving back into Rockstar's virtual world of crime.

Our own Jonathan Leack previously explored “Everything You Need to Know About Grand Theft Auto V’s Gameplay Trailer,” an analysis of the trailer that quickly became one of the most discussed topics on the internet. However, I’m not here today to talk about what GTAV is, but rather what makes it demanding of your attention.

Cinematic Excellence

Watch the trailer again. Pay close attention to the framing, the shaky cam usage, the character interactions, and the shot composition. Rockstar's development team could very well work in the film industry. That cinematic rub goes well beyond the average video game and has translated to greatness in games like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV.

At this point Rockstar has spent years refining its cinematic formula. At this point they're masters at applying film narrative techniques to games. While an open world title like Sleeping Dogs or Saints Row: The Third might try to deliver a compelling visual experience, Rockstar’s worlds feel organic in a way that similar series can't compete with. They're extraordinary pieces of cinematic fiction.

Exploring RDR's New Austin, West Elizabeth, and Nuevo Paraiso felt like riding through slices of the great western film genre. To many, it was the first time that the genre had been thoroughly brought to life in the virtual world. Apply that level of detail and epicness to crime and heist flicks set in Los Angeles, and you’ve got a recipe for glory. Ala GTAV.

Grand Theft Auto V

A Sarcastic Slice of Culture

As if having cinematic flair wasn't enough, Grand Theft Auto games are also a slice of our culture, something rarely executed correctly in games. GTAV will carry this tradition with great pride.

The GTA series is one that specializes in humor, and more specifically pop culture references. There are billboards plastered with satire, radio talk shows that poke fun at just about anything, and bigger-than-possible characters play out massively predictable stereotypes. Other games might tell stories, but the GTA series paints a grand picture, a fictional place that is an extremely sarcastic version of the world we all live in.

With GTAV we’ll see three main characters metaphorically sliced apart, and their stereotypical traits will be on display throughout the campaign. We’ll also be subject to inside jokes about politics, the world economy, and greedy corporations. In other words, you're going to laugh, and you're going to laugh often. 

In a nutshell, GTAV will be beautifully crafted, poignant, and loud. It'll tell jokes that are borderline offensive, but in a way that you can't help but laugh. The GTA series is the master of balancing these qualities, and GTAV will once again push the bar for how well it can be done.