Grand Theft Auto V trailer review

People seem to be skipping straight to the pure art, and yet nobody’s made the Caddyshack in games yet, right? So I’m like, woah woah woah, let’s put on the brakes – let’s make Caddyshack, and then we can make Anna Karenina or whatever.

— Erik Wolpaw, Portal series writer, on video games as art or as comedy

Grand Theft Auto V is, until I find a better comparison, the Beverly Hills Cop of video games.

Compare the two trailers.

Obviously one’s more anti-hero than the other, and the actual plots are totally different. There’s surely a better specific comparison. But the tone of GTA V — or these cherry-picked scenes anyway — is so well-matched to an action comedy that I would just straight-up watch this game as a movie.

I would watch another person play this game. And if you grew up with fewer controllers than siblings, you know this means everything.

What really nails it here isn’t just the writing, which has been a strength of the GTA series for a while. It’s the impeccable voice acting they showed off in the trailer. “Just ignore [perfect short pause] the bodies.” You couldn’t possibly improve that line.

Same goes for “we’re bouncing now” — a line one could easily overplay, but here is given just enough room. (Granted, it might not hold up when they don’t immediately cut to an explosion.)

The action scenes are fun and impressive — that kid swinging off a sailboat mast over a highway is more exciting than any multi-helicopter maneuver in any Bond film — and, I dunno, the water physics are pretty? But there’s a huge advantage you can’t credit to technology — the story bits are just utterly beyond the shit that made me spend all of GTA 3 in sandbox mode. It’s been a good decade for the series. Maybe I’m the last one to notice that — my co-editor Henry points out that GTA: Vice City was Miami Vice and San Andreas was Boys in the Hood.

But GTA V looks like a game that non-gamers might be willing to learn, just to hear the story. And that seems like a decent way to expand the gaming market.

So OK, we don’t know if GTA V will be as narratively and comedically entertaining as a movie, but the trailer is definitely as good as their trailers. And the mere fact they’re willing to use movie-level-funny jokes as a selling point is… cool.

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