Jamie Press, an avid Grand Theft Auto fan, has a big confession to make.
7 months ago when Grand Theft Auto V was released, I was on holiday in Florida, kicking myself for being out of the country when it was released. September 17th was the first week of my holiday, so I had to wait an extra two weeks whilst everyone else was taken away to a western paradise filled with sex, drugs and violence. Isn’t it just great?
Ever since I was probably about 15 years old I’ve been a huge fan of GTA even though at that age I shouldn’t of been a fan. But, unlike others, I’m able to differentiate between entertainment and reality. But enough of that. I’ve always loved the GTA games because … well, just look at them. How can you say they’re not innovative, entertaining and just plain fun.
Grand Theft Auto IV is my all time favorite GTA. Although many people trash the game for being boring and dull, I was so emotionally hooked into that game. People who trashed the game, I think, don’t understand what it’s truly about. Obviously with this being GTA, fans are expecting a certain amount of things – explosions, gun-fights, sex, drugs, everything you could imagine. They’re just looking for a crazy and wild game.
So when GTA IV came along obviously they weren’t impressed. Oh sure it had its explosions here and there and remarkable gun-fights such as the infamous “Three Leaf Clover” mission but to them it wasn’t as much as GTA III, Vice City, or San Andreas. But at its core the story to GTA IV to me was incredible emotional. I was hooked on every character.
I remember when I first completed the game. You’re given the choice to either work with a long time enemy for money, or exact your revenge of this enemy. Either one you pick will see someone close to you killed – Kate or Roman. My first playthrough I picked revenge and ended up loosing Kate. Curious to know what would happen if I had picked “Deal”, I went to YouTube to find out. If you choose “Deal” then Roman, Niko’s much-loved cousin, would be killed on his wedding day.
I still remember to this day exactly what I said when I saw the footage of Roman being gunned down outside the church in the arms of his beautiful wife, Mallorie. “Oh no,” I said, devasted. Now, reading that probably doesn’t do it justice – in fact it doesn’t – but it was the tone I said it. I didn’t even mean to say it, it just came out. Never before had I really cared about any other video game character but this was different. I was so attached to Niko and Roman’s story. No other video game had me this attached.
Until The Last of Us.
I got to admit, up until about 2/3 months before the game’s release I wasn’t aware of the game. What it was about, who it was made by, I didn’t know anything. But obviously as time went on I began learning more and more about it and upon release; the world went nuts for it.
My first playthrough was amazing. Usually it takes me, say, 2 maybe 3 days to complete a game, depending on my free time schedule, but this experience lasted for well over a week even though I never intended it too. It was literately one of the greatest video game experiences I’ve ever had. The Last of Us had captured the same feeling I had for GTA IV.
But as the run up for GTA V began, that feeling kind of faded away and, shame-ably I began to say that The Last of Us wasn’t going to be able to beat GTA V, financially, critically, or just how good it was as a fan. I remember when I finished playing The Last of Us I called for it to win Game of the Year. But when the gameplay video for GTA V was released I retracted that statement and remember saying that GTA V had no competition, it was going to win no matter how good The Last of Us was.
So when I finally got home from holiday and I sat down to play GTA V, I was, as expected, blown away. This living, breathing open-world was just a different kind of experience unlike anything else I had ever played. I was on such as serious GTA hype.
2/3 months later, that hype began to cool down and I realized something that I didn’t want to admit – The Last of Us was much better than GTA V.
Why didn’t I want to admit that? Because to be honest I’m slightly biased when it comes to GTA. Because I love GTA so much, I want all GTA games to be great, I want them to win every single award there is even though they’ve already won a multitude of awards. I hate admitting that something is better than GTA.
But I couldn’t do it anymore. It was wrong of me to say something is better when it’s not.
Now, don’t get me wrong, GTA V is not at all a terrible game. On the contrary, it is one the most innovative games you’ll ever play. Just look at everything it has won, every record it has broken this year. I can’t even count on my two hands the amount of achievements this game had made.
I think it’s best explained like this: had I been with Roobla when GTA V was released, I would’ve award it a 10. Now, 7 months later, I know that game is actually a 9, maybe even an 8.5. Why? Well, despite everything that game has, all the innovative, amazing sights there is, I never felt connected to the characters, and I sometimes felt the story was weak.
Out of all the characters I only really cared for one – Michael. I loved playing as an older – although he’s not that old – character who had already gone through his prime years of crime and eventually settled with the government and went into witness protection. Now he’s got to face problems with his family and his mid-life crisis. I enjoyed this, I connected with his story of trying to get about a normal life outside of criminal world, and I enjoyed his determination to fix his broken family. I sensed his deep-rooted love for his wife, daughter and son.
Trevor I felt was just psychotic for no apparent reason, which to many people is why they love him so much, but to me it’s why I never connected with him. I wanted there to be a deep-rooted reason as to why he’s so crazy but I could never really find one. Franklin I just felt lacked any kind of emotion, I never felt for his need to get out of the hood and became a big successful player in the city of Los Santos and at times I felt he was ungrateful for where he came from. He never really learnt this in the story either. There is a mission where the game cheaply tries to make Franklin aware of who he is and where he came from but it doesn’t feel as important as it should. When you finish the mission you still feel like Franklin still doesn’t care.
But, despite all that, I still called for it to win game of the year because like I said, I was biased. I did the same with The Dark Knight Rises. When that movie was released I was saying it was the best film of the year, so much better than The Dark Knight or Batman Begins, because just like GTA, I’m a huge Batman fan, and a Christopher Nolan fan. But looking back now, I’m ashamed of myself to call that film the “best film” because you know what I know deep down just how terrible that film was, just like I knew, deep inside my heart that The Last of Us was the better game of the year. The story, the characters, the world, the soundtrack, everything was there. I honestly can’t think of any fault with The Last of Us whereas GTA V, I can now find a small number of faults.
And when Left Behind, the prequel story DLC to The Last of Us, was released, it cemented to me why The Last of Us isn’t just game of the year – it’s the game of the century.
I’m sat here right now listening to the soundtrack for both The Last of Us and Left Behind and I’m just thinking about the story, remembering going through each part of both games, the memories I created, the people I fought and the connection I built.
It’s the most important game you’ll ever play and to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like it ever again. Could I be wrong? Sure, I could. Maybe I’ll connect with Watch Dogs much more than The Last of Us, but honestly, knock on wood, I don’t think I ever will.
So I confess: The Last of Us really is the best game ever made.