The fractured brilliance of Grand Theft Auto V and its four main characters


I can think of a handful of what I consider perfect movies. These aren’t literally perfect movies, of course. I don’t believe in some Platonic ideal movie made manifest. Instead, these are movies where a uniquely talented writer, director, and actors understand each other completely, and they have something relevant to say, and they somehow advance the medium or tell a story that connects with me. I’ve never really thought of videogames on the same level, which is odd, considering how I consistently try to apply the same standards to videogames that I apply to movies and other forms of entertainment. In five or ten years, with enough distance, will I consider Grand Theft Auto V one of those rare perfect games?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Oh, like you'd know what people talk like on The Wire. :)


Better change this review to 2 stars to placate all the dipshits who were enraged about your SR4 review.


Goddamnit, Tom. And here I'd almost convinced myself that I'd be okay with skipping over GTA 5 for the time being when it comes out on PC.

My wallet and my free time would like to formally express their displeasure at the future demands on them you may have made more likely to happen. They also enjoyed the review, though, as did I, so it all kind of balances out.


This game is so damn good. I have no idea how Rockstar is going to top this.


The plot of GTAV is incredibly stupid. I only got halfway through the story before I just wanted the characters to shut up and stop bickering.


I like the game overall, but I have to agree with you there. I lost count of the times I wanted to shout "Why are you doing this you stupid fuck!" at the screen. (And no, Franklin, you don't get points for agreeing with me if you still do it.) I guess it's suppposed to be driven by the tensions between Michael and Trevor instead of traditional goal-driven a->b->c plotting, but it doesn't really work, because as much as Trevor might be a great excuse to indulge in open-world mayhem, he's a non-character; little more than a collection of tics and gross jokes.


Gaming journalism's William F. Buckley speaks, and it is good. Nice review, Tom -- not for the star rating (although I would agree GTAV is a slam-dunk five star) but for the Jungian analysis. Great reading.


I do wish you'd devoted some time to addressing the mechanics, not because I think it would detract from the score, but because I think that little by little, Rockstar's addressing complaints. The Red Dead weapon wheel is a welcome addition to GTA (even if the GTA 5 weapons don't really have much variety per 'slot'), for instance.

In another two or three iterations, maybe you won't need to tap X to sprint!


Very nice review. Maybe not a perfect game, but an amazing one.


I certainly hope not:


There goes your page hits


"There are no surprises or twists or reveals. It’s a bit like the way Vince Gilligan closed out Breaking Bad,"

Arg. Breaking bad was predictable and convenient. Not having a twist is one thing; being pat is another.


Hey remember when you pulled The Last of Us up for having poor gameplay that consisted of playing a bad shooter until a cutscene happened over and over again? That was good times.


This review expresses everything I adore about GTA V in precise and beautiful words. I've been reading this site for a few hours now and I must say you, dear writer, are doing video game culture a huge favor by applying the strengths and axioms of traditional feuilleton journalism to what still lacks the proper respect as the tenth art. Please by all means keep up the good work.

a new frequent reader


yeah you smart ass writing uncommon words to make sound yourself smart made this review pathatic...keep you scientific overly complex English in your pocket..i had headache while reading your this shitty review..not sure how i landed here but i regret wasting my time reading it


Go back in yer hole and die, you scum-fuck anti-intellectual mouth-breathing gorilla fucktard. Seriously. Did you get that, or do I need to wait for you to fumble out your thesaurus with your grubby monkey fucktard paws? Huh, fucktard? Seriously, seriously, just fucking die already, Lance Fucktard Henry.

Great review!