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GTA V: A satirical sandbox like no other

Grand Theft Auto 5 is many things.

For starters, it's a record breaker. In just three days on store shelves GTA V blew past the $1 billion sale mark, making it the fastest selling video game of all time.

It's also an open world sandbox game like no other. Want to ride a bike down the coast of GTA's fictional California? Go for it. Want to do yoga? You can. Play tennis? No problem. GTA V is filled to the brim with activities that many players will never go out of their way to experience, yet it is all there, just because developer Rockstar can.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, GTA V is filled with brilliant and biting satire. It doesn't pull any punches. Every aspect of modern American society is in the crosshairs. Whether it be the game's social networking site LifeInvader, the bum of a son who won't look for a job and sits on his couch and plays Call of Duty all day every day, the fear-mongering media blasting over the airwaves, or even just the fact that every character in the game, even small time thugs, own smartphones, GTA takes a shot at just about anything and everything that makes up American society in 2013.

Satire is the name of the game, and GTA V's main narrative delivers it in spades, telling a compelling crime drama on the absurdity of the idea of "getting rich or die trying," and the myth of the "American Dream."

New to the series is the ability to play as three protagonists, and switch between them on the fly.Small-time crook Franklin is just looking to move up the social ladder, and he's disturbed by a friend's willingness to do anything, including drug dealing and kidnapping, to get ahead and make a few bucks.

While repossessing a car, Franklin meets Michael, a rich ex-bank robber who faked his own death and now lives "the good life." And by good life, I mean he hates his life, as he is the father of a deadweight son, a daughter looking to get into the porn industry, and a cheating wife. He sits by the poolside of his hillside mansion most days, day-dreaming of something more. After a rash decision, Michael finds himself in serious debt to some serious criminals, and is forced to come out of retirement and come up with the cash the only way he knows how - big time bank heists.

To do this he calls up his old, pyschotic bank-robbing buddy Trevor. Together, the three men set out to rob a series of banks and come out on top.

GTA V is an improvement in just about every aspect over it's predeccesor except perhaps story. The game features much improved visuals, refined shooting controls, more responsive driving, and more. However, the tragic american immigrant story of GTA IV is tough to beat, and though GTA V features stellar writing and two additional protagonists, they are all much harder to relate to than the struggling eastern European immigrant Niko Bellic just looking to make it in America. Other than that, GTA V is more of the same, just much more of it.

Like I said before, GTA V is many things. Is it offensive? Yes. Is it violent? Very much so. Is it fun? It's impossible not to be entertained. But what makes GTA so popular as a series is not just the open sandbox world where players can go to the strip club or snort cocaine, but that it all has a point. The point is America in GTA is one dumb, excessive, wealth obsessed joke, even if many of the players playing it don't realize. And that makes it more than worth your time to investigate.

 

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