Editorial: Grand Theft Auto and my next identity

Peter Villa Jr. is a guest writer from a local San Diego high school. He shares with us his experience with the Grand Theft Auto series. Although the release date for GTA5 has not been confirmed, Peter  shows us his enthusiasm for the next yet-to-be-announced episode.

Guest Editorial Writer: Peter Villa Jr

Speeding down the street and hooking corners, I put the pedal to the metal, attempting to
evade America’s finest police forces. It’s funny how red, white and blue can represent freedom until they’re flashing their lights right behind you. I can’t lose the heat and the cops are in hot pursuit, so out my, window goes an Uzi submachine gun, firing at the cops. It’s on full auto blast screaming through the streets. Pedestrians scream and run for cover or aimlessly stand, observing me driving like a maniac while I’m putting down more cops. As always the radio is blaring, because you know how villains commit crimes, we always have the radio on when we are escaping a five-star wanted level.

At one point I realized I’ve been playing for the past, oh let’s say, 2 hours or so, and I’m still disoriented from everything that just happened. It’s taking time for me to accustom myself back to my mediocre life. Then I ask myself, what is so fun about the Grand Theft Auto series? We have to realize the amount of fans that Grand Theft Auto carries. Some swear it’s the greatest game in the world. Is it the script writing? The dialogue between characters? The originality? Or how about the fact that our role-playing characters are our alter egos? We get to act like we would never act in public, dress like we would never dress, walking down the street. And hey, if you’re mad, just let your firearm do the talking, because talking it out is so overrated.

To try and figure out the answer behind this video game phenomenon, I analyzed one of
my favorite and most entertaining games, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (GTA: SA).
San Andreas was released in 2004 for older consoles (PS2 and Xbox), then a year later it was released for PC. San Andreas is a open-world sandbox game with RPG elements that takes place in San Andreas, which represents California and parts of Nevada. The main character is CJ, short for Carl Johnson. He comes home from the East Coast when his brother tells him that their mother was murdered.

What I thought was cool about SA is that it featured a couple of celebrity actors including Samuel L. Jackson, whose played a police officer in a special operations unit called C.R.A.S.H (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums). His name was Sgt. Officer Frank Tenpenny. The game featured many metropolitan cities like Los Santos (Los Angeles), which is CJ’s hometown; San Fierro (San Fransisco); and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). When CJ returns home to Grove Street in Ganton (Compton), he finds his friends and old street friends heading down a path to destruction, due to the 1980s-1990s crack epidemic.

Already the game has a great story, even reflecting actual moments in U.S. history. The
plot of the story is said to be related to the LAPD Rampart Scandal. One of my favorite things about San Andreas was the radio stations. The radio stations played a lot of classic hip hop and rap, gangsta’ rap like Eazy-E, NWA, funk such as Zapp, soul, R&B and others. The music really reflected the time period and all types of pop culture that evolved from that era. I liked the stations because the music is kind of what I grew up listening to. Another reason I like SA is because of the setting. I loved the fact that it was set on the West Coast, since previous GTAs seemed to be set on the East, which made SA different. Another attribute SA offered was the story. The story was one of the best I ever played, and it always kept me interested. But most of all, I enjoyed the gameplay.

Because SA is free-roaming, the player can do many things in the fictional (yet closely
related) world. One example is character customization. If CJ wanted a haircut he can go to Old Rece’s barber shop and get a high fade or afro, if he wanted to work out and get buff he could go to the Ganton Gym, and if he wanted to be overweight he could eat at Cluckin’ Bell all day long. Car customization was awesome, since you could mod cars with hydraulics and paint colors. Last, but not least, CJ had some interaction with people in the city, and you were given the choice to respond positively or negatively.

So there we have it, a full synopsis. But what is it that makes it so fun for me? I
realized that it allows you have an alter ego. I can do almost anything I wanted to in GTA, especially now that the realism is developing more lately in the latest GTAs, such as GTA 4. But it’s something bigger than GTA. It’s Rockstar. Almost every game that occupies the dusty corners on my shelf made by Rockstar I’ve enjoyed. I enjoyed L.A. Noire, and it was not exactly “Free Roam,” but more of an adventure game. Another great example is Red Dead Redemption. I had never felt the way I did about a game (besides GTA) when I first played Red Dead Redemption. I remember being the bad cowboy of The West as a small child in front of the television, wasting time that probably could have been spent outside breaking a leg climbing a tree in Red Dead Revolver. It wasn’t even open ended, but fast forward in time and you can ride horses all over Mexico and the Mid-West.

So yes, it is the alter ego. Whether I’m the outlaw of The West or a criminal of the inner
city, Rockstar Games will always provide a getaway for me when I simply, just don’t feel like being me for a day. Now GTA 5 is coming soon, confirmed to be in Los Santos via trailer. I am excited for this because the GTA 4 era was set in Liberty City (New York). I think that now graphics are improved and cities and landmarks are more realistic and accurate, GTA 5 will be extremely successful. I hope to see some more features from San Andreas that were not included in GTA 4, like car mod’s blaring old school music. Let’s just say I am ready for my next alter ego.

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JR Cajigas
JR Cajigas 113 posts

JR Cajigas is a foodie by day and...foodie by night. In between meals he is a tech writer and photographer. Yummers!