The skyline of Los Santos as seen from the Vinewood sign

The skyline of Los Santos as seen from atop the Vinewood sign.

It certainly took me a week longer than I had anticipated, but today I was finally able to complete the GTA V story mode. I was plagued by strong hay fever over the last few days and I really didn’t want to experience the grand finale sneezing and with itchy eyes. Today however the hay fever had finally calmed down enough to no longer impede my enjoyment.

I had stopped playing right before the final heist – The Big One – so I thought I’d be done quickly, but it turned out that I was wrong as there were many loose ends to gag and silence forever. My ending of choice was to save both Michael and Trevor, mostly because I felt neither of them had messed up Franklin’s life enough to deserve to be murdered by him. Also, I really couldn’t decide between Michael and Trevor – while Trevor is painted strongly as a psychopath, Michael’s state of mind wasn’t always exactly sane either. At some point in the story, Michael started to sound a lot like Trevor, and on the other hand, despite Trevor being clearly maniacal, he isn’t all bad – he’s loyal and his attitude towards women was definitely interesting.

Crossing the mountain range with Franklin

Hiking across the mountain range with Franklin.

In the end, I thought the finale was a bit underwhelming and not really on par with the stellar performances I had witnessed the 25+ hours before it. I had expected some kind of nasty plot twist – for example the FIB agents stealing the gold while also abusing their power once again by sending the gang to prison for life – but instead, the entire finale is spent on a simple wrap-up shoot-out without any kind of real climax. Of course I don’t know how the other two options would have played out, but I suspect they’d be even less interesting.

With the amazing story, colorful and deep characters and stellar voice acting, the only thing that really bothered me was the actual game play. Now don’t get me wrong, the driving felt solid and the gun-play satisfying, but soon enough the only thing I cared about was the next cut-scene or witty in-car banter. The game play breaks up the pacing too much and the constant fail states for whatever arbitrary reason just made me wish Rockstar would have opted to just skip the entire “game” thing and wrote the thing for television instead. HBO or Netflix would have been all over it, and best of all, it would enable non-gamers to experience the story as well.

Final heist getaway cars

My gaudy setup of getaway cars for the final heist. I had planned for Trevor to drive the purple one just to annoy him, but ended up driving it myself instead. Really inconspicuous cars, guys!

This is probably my biggest gripe: no matter how fascinating the game’s story is, most people in the world won’t be able to take part because they don’t play video games. Yeah, there’s a “game movie” on YouTube, but the visible UI elements, “bad” graphics – at least compared to pre-rendered animation and messed up pacing aren’t making it that enjoyable to non-gamers. I feel a little bad for the game’s writers as well as they are writing for a tiny audience no matter how well the game sold.

I didn’t bother with most of the achievements as many of them were just annoying, tedious collection quests without much of a story to reward me, and the last thing I want is to burn myself out on yet another open world game with endless collectibles. I did some of the easier ones though, like spending $200m or chasing the cops around the airport to maintain 3 minutes of 3-star police rating.

Next up on my AAA quest is probably one of the Telltale games, mostly because I need something entirely linear before I jump into yet another open world game.