So then why pick on the game at all? Well I could talk about how when I was younger I was less sophisticated, or how when graphics were less refined than today it forced us to look deeper into games or something like that, but I'd really just rather compare GTA V to Vice City. There are a number of reasons why I loved Vice City, not the least of which is that the game was set in Florida in the 80's and I was a kid in the 80's who called Florida home. Special kind of nostalgia there. But there's more to it than that.
You see, Tommy Vercetti was the protagonist of VC and was the sort of character who steals your heart then your wallet, sort of like George Clooney in Ocean's 11, Sean Connery in James Bond, or Timothy Hutton in Leverage. He was the first GTA character to speak, and the first with a real personality. Arguments of agency aside, this was my guy. This was in the days where 'regaining your health in the car' was rude but off screen and the music was good. Not one single character in the GTA franchise since has been relatable or anything short than an anti-social sociopath, not even Michael De Santa despite the heavy speculation. I miss my Tommy.
Yes I'm showing my bias, and I get that these are crooks and all, but it doesn't change the fact that I've been waiting for GTA IV: Vice City for years and they have skipped right on past that particular remake. Vice City is arguably the most heavily themed Grand Theft Auto game, taking influences from a wide range of classic 1980s movies, television series and music. This was great. The setting was story waiting to happen, and the world richer with pop references than any other game in the franchise!
This is what V (and IV for that matter) was lacking to me. I freely admit that I made it to mission 3 and quit. If you've played you can probably guess why. That's not to say I didn't spend about 8 hours in the game. Some of it was in online mode and some of it not (more on that later) but I did the thing you do in GTA. I drove around, stole cars, drove around more, stole planes and such, and drove/flew really fast and died. Then I quit. More of the same. No compelling characters or story pulling me into the narrative, and certainly no Tommy. Oh well.