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Grand Theft Auto 5 is a veritable work of genius, which qualifies it as one of the best titles Rockstar Games has released to date. The single-player story mode is compelling, the visuals are stunning, the atmosphere is superbly realized, and the multiplayer madness that is GTA Online is bags of fun.
Rockstar Games has achieved this high watermark thanks to a huge budget, an incredible team, and an existing user base that was, after an epic five-year wait, chomping at the bit to revisit the world of Grand Theft Auto. But as with every medium, video games are heavily influenced by other things, and there are plenty of examples of this in GTA V.
Red Dead Redemption
It should come as no surprise that Red Dead Redemption has influenced GTA V, because they share similar DNA. The obvious influence Red Dead had on GTA V was the random encounters, which see you helping out (or hindering) strangers without affecting the main storyline. These work in exactly the same way in GTA V as they do in RDR.
Max Payne 3
Another Rockstar Games title that has influenced GTA V is Max Payne 3. The combat mechanics of the former have been almost wholly lifted from the latter, just with the bullet time malarkey removed. The GTA IV combat mechanics were hard to master and came in for serious criticism, and GTA V has benefited greatly from this change.
GTA V itself doesn’t borrow anything (that I can see) from Burnout Paradise, but GTA Online most certainly does. Both games feature persistent locations that you’re dropped into along with various strangers who you can choose to interact with or ignore. And starting races and missions in both games requires you to head for a particular part of the map.
Driver: San Francisco
There’s only one element that GTA V borrows from Driver: San Francisco, but it’s an important one. In that game you can shift between cars, at which point the map would zoom out and then back in. GTA V ramps this effect up considerably as you shift between the three main characters, but its genesis looks to have come from Driver: San Francisco.
TV & Film
Michael, one of the three lead characters in GTA V, is a long-retired career criminal who now visits a very expensive (and kinda useless) therapist on occasion to deal with his former life. Tony Soprano, the lead character in The Sopranos, is a mob boss who visits a therapist on occasion to deal with his sociopathic tendencies. Need I say more?
Heat is a 1995 film directed by Michael Mann and starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. While there aren’t any specific influences that can easily be pinpointed, much of the style and temperament of the Michael character is present in the film, as is the overall atmosphere, which suggests this is a favorite of the developers.
The X Factor
Fame or Shame is a TV show that’s not only mentioned in GTA V, but also forms the basis for one of the early missions. It is, in essence, The X Factor. Or American Idol. Or America’s Got Talent. Basically any talent show which adds a zero to the gargantuan fortune sitting in Simon Cowell’s bank account. And makes fun of talentless wannabes.
Like Heat there is not one particular element or moment in GTA V that can clearly be cited as sourced from Breaking Bad. But the whole of Trevor’s enterprise in meth production and obliterating the competition is reminiscent of the recently-ended AMC series.
For Apple read iFruit, the name of a technology company in GTA V that sells smartphones and apps. Its logo is a fruit bowl containing what looks like a banana and two apples, which is all very phallic. There is a real-world iFruit app which can be used to train Franklin’s dog Chop, but at the time of writing it’s only available on iOS. Which is rather fitting.
The three main characters in GTA V all own different smartphones. Michael, the man for whom money is no object, owns a smartphone sporting the iFruit logo. Franklin, who is young and poor prior to getting involved with a life of crime, owns a smartphone which looks remarkably like an Android handset. And Trevor, a drug dealer who lives in a trailer park outside of the city, owns a smartphone which looks remarkably like a Windows Phone handset. You can draw your own conclusions.
The social networking site of choice within the world of GTA V is Lifeinvader, which is clearly inspired by Facebook. The parody runs quite deep, with one mission seeing you taking out the CEO of the company because of a new phone he’s set to launch. In the news report there is talk of how he “stole the site” from his co-founders.
Though not as heavily featured in the game as Lifeinvader, another social networking site available to the characters is Bleeter, which, if you hadn’t already guessed, is Rockstar’s homage to Twitter. Every time you log on to the in-game Internet there are new “bleets,” all of which are vapid nonsense. So, nothing like the real Twitter at all.
All creative efforts influence, and are influenced by, other creative efforts. This list proves how true this is, and in five years time when GTA V has influenced other games, and possibly television shows and movies too, then the whole thing will have come full circle.
These are all influences I personally noticed while playing GTA V, showing how much I struggle to switch off from being a technology blogger. Still, I’m sure there are many more that I’ve missed that perhaps you have spotted. If so then you should tell us all about your discoveries in the comments section below.