Dissecting The New Grand Theft Auto 5 Character Trailers

I’m immune, mostly, to advertising. I tend to reject products that successfully pander to me, even when I want to buy the product anyway. There is one painful exception of course, and that’s the periodic onslaught of marketing preceding the release of a new Grand Theft Auto Game. So it is that after watching the three new character-focused GTA V trailers I am a pathetic ball of obediently consuming mush.

As it turns out, the trailers are shorter, individually, than the two previous trailers released in 2011 and 2012. But the information revealed in them is surprisingly dense, owing mostly to the focus on the three main characters. For the first time, we’re getting a look at how the three interwoven stories might fit together, and how Rockstar plans to balance things. In short, it looks like we’re almost getting three games in one, with three distinct stories and a ton of things to do.

Of course, the usual GTA staples are here in force. As usual, there’s an amazing soundtrack, a comical variety of weapons, and ridiculously fast cars. Added to this is a diverse environment, tons of explosions, and Juggalos. Wait, huh? Yes, there are Juggalos in GTA V. All that and more has been packed into this thing, probably because you said your prayers every night like good children and thus, Santa doesn’t hate you.

From now until September, my brain is going to be stuck in constant, almost angry anticipation. Yours too, judging from the reaction to these trailers on twitter. We understand, and since we can’t play the game for several more months, we’ve instead spent too many hours poring over the new trailers.

Read on for our full analysis.

The Characters

“What do you want, Michael?”

With that, the first of the three trailers calls the player out personally, making them fully responsible for the mayhem they’ve caused in so many of Rockstar’s fictional American cities. It also reveals the theme for the entire game. In short, meet Freud’s psychic apparatus, ripped from the players, courtesy of playable protagonists Michael, Franklin, and Trevor.

Warning: Pretentious. Skip the next paragraph if you want to get right to the explosions.

Trevor is pure ID, nothing more than base desires fulfilled as quickly as possible as aggressively as possible. Mayhem, destruction and death for their own sakes, consequences be damned. Meanwhile, Rockstar has already revealed that Michael will justify his return to crime as a result of financial necessity, but as we see in his conversation with his therapist, he misses danger, he misses feeling like a badass, and he hates the boredom of settled life with his family, who apparently return the compliment. He’s just the ego, directing base desire to productive ends. Franklin is the most practical of the three. He isn’t in it for glory or adrenaline, he just wants out of the hood and he doesn’t want to die just another gang banger trying to do it. He’s super ego, essentially the need to feel good about the decisions we make. Even if those decisions aren’t actually good.

This lofty-sounding shit aside, through these characters we also see further confirmation that GTA V brings a return to the pure fun of a sandbox shooter that was, apparently, ripped out of GTA IV with a pair of pliers during an extended torture session.

The sense of humor is evident from the moment sober, psychiatric dialogue is juxtaposed with Michael’s kid calling him out on his “midlife crisis bullshit.” Whatever problems Michael has, at least here we aren’t given the chance to suddenly feel the energy sucked out of the room as his bad choices fail to bear good fruit.

Meanwhile, the fun of just losing yourself in the wanton destruction that made the series notorious is front and center. Trevor is not only a gleefully vicious character, he’s the kind of gleeful viciousness that defined your first time playing Grand Theft Auto, which is why it’s fitting that through him we see glimpses of how much there is to do in GTA V, right up to and including jacking a helicopter. And even Franklin’s arc, which appears to have the most serious tone, involves a lot of snappy dialogue and tightly scripted moments of cinematic violence.

Notably missing from all three trailers? The endless bleakness of GTA IV’s Nico. The American Dream might be a raw deal, but at least this time we’re laughing at it instead of crying. Whether or the crazy idea of having three playable characters with fully developed arcs in the same game ends up working remains to be seen, but based on this all-too-short glimpse, we can at least rest assured they definitely will not be interchangeable.

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8 Comments on Dissecting The New Grand Theft Auto 5 Character Trailers


On April 30, 2013 at 11:56 am

The GTA series has never evolved as a game. Its the same copy and paste as other AAA titles like halo, Assassins creed, Call of duty, God of War, Gears of War etc. Whats there to be excited about?

I’m more interested in Saints Row 4 and that game evolves with every new installment. I mean you can customize you own character for crying out loud. Just look at the GTA roster its just the same old crap and just to add a little fire they have 3 guys and no women characters. The music doesn’t mean crap if the game is not fun and quite frankly I can add my own soundtrack.

I’m really tired of these watered down games and dumb people that buy them.


On April 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

So, according to Michael, pretty much the majority of gamers, including me, are dumb.
These games are amazing, fun, and in my opinion, don’t need to COMPLETELY change everything about them in order to continue to be fun. GTA at it’s base is a certain kind of sandbox game. And they’re successful as hell for good reason… They’re not gonna turn around and make a Dark Souls-esque game now… just for the sake of being different and pleasing the “Oh so much more intelligent” people who think that the only good game is one that has never been done before.. They make what they want to make, and that’s normally what their fans want as well. Most fans of this series look forward to what they decide to make next. Each game may be similar to the others that came previously in their basic form… but they’re not all the same… They’re not “copy and paste”. And one thing I can say I absolutely love and respect about Rockstar is that they don’t have a set time frame for their GTA games to come out. They let the teams work on it to make the best possible GTA game they can make for the fans. Unlike EA… Or even Activision with CoD. GTA in my mind has always been one of those higher quality series. Saints Row can be it’s own game, but quite honestly, I don’t really care for them too much anymore. I enjoyed the first 2, the third was funny, but to me, SR will always kinda be the little brother to GTA.


On April 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Interesting and Yes.

Everyone who buys the games I listed are dumb as well as the people who make them. The main problem is that nobody wants to try anything new and challenging and they just want to keep playing the same dumb games over and over.

How do you feel if you eat pizza everyday and never bother to try anything new?
Not me I have to try new games even though I know they might suck. Thats what makes me a gamer unlike everyone else. In January I purchased Ni No kuni which I believe deserves Game of the year. February was Dead Space 3 which was far better than the second game. MArch was the disappointing God of War Ascension which I didnt want to play and regret it, but I wrote my take on this game in this site. Lastly Dragons Dogma Dark Arisen which I’m enjoying more than I did Skyrim.

But as for GTA I’m done with it since San Andreas and will never play another one because I don’t want to support a game that does not evolve. The only game Rockstar made that will always be awesome is Red Dead Redemption because they took the sandbox of there GTA series and created something new with it that we didnt see in gaming and it was a huge success.


On April 30, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Micheal, you’re missing the point. the GTA games are social commentary. Their messages evolve and each games talk about the times they are in. They use familiar elements in what are often interesting ways.
You criticise GTA for a lack of innovation when the simple fact a AAA game tries to do something has subtle has a satire and is so well written it actually succeeds is revolutionary in the gaming landscape.
You seem to confuse taste (has in yours) with actual worth. In that way, I agree, you are a gamer (has in a very typical, hypocritical, stereotypical one).
You shouldn’t be so proud of that.


On April 30, 2013 at 7:35 pm

That’s all your opinion.. And if that’s how you feel, you can watch the rest of us playing GTA V. You know why some games don’t change their formulas to much? Because when something isn’t broken, why fix it?


On May 1, 2013 at 12:39 am

@Robert and that is your opinion. gta4 was so broken I couldn’t bear to finish it. It deviated from the GTA SA formula something awful, and it showed. I’ve read more bad things about 4 than any other GTA game made. It sucked hard, and if 5 is more like 4 than SA, I won’t touch it.


On May 1, 2013 at 8:19 am

See? And even GTA IV shows that they were trying to try something different and the mood of the game showed it… And people didn’t like it. So it looks like they’re trying to go a bit more old school with 5… Although, they’re trying it in a different way by making three different characters in one game and making each a different type of GTA character to balance out what the game is like. Michael seems more like the dramatic GTA 4 character, Trevor is the old school crazy GTA character, and Franklin is the SA type character (at least as far as I see thus far). So, they’ll be trying to cater to the different types of GTA fans. I see it as genius. I love the GTA games, but I love new games as well. It just depends. I play whatever video game looks like fun to me, which is exactly what a gamer does. I don’t know when the definition of gamer changed to “someone who only plays brand new, obscure games”.

Actually, Watch Dogs looks like a great game, and it’s something different… I’m pumped for it.

And @Swcloud99 I like your comment. You put words down that I wish I could’ve thought of. haha


On May 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

Actually “Remembers Me” looks interesting as well, but yeah, I am definitely looking forward to “Watchdogs”.
Also cant wait for the new “Thief”. Now that one really has my attention.