GTA: Don't judge a game by its cover

At a glance, Grand Theft Auto V is severely handicapped by incomplete impressions attributed to real-life violence. The truth is, playing the game is more like criticizing the very foundations of American culture. In the era of movie remakes and annual Apple products, customers are treated to what feels like cosmetic changes every year. However, judging a book solely by its cover is not only limiting, it is also incorrect.

In a recent issue of The Corsair, an unfounded critique of the game was published by our opinion editor who hasn’t even played the game yet.

“Simply another piece of garbage entertainment,” he stated in his article.

After logging more than 40 hours into this new version, I can confidently say it is not a “piece of garbage entertainment,” but a hyper-stylized critique of American values.

As the name suggests, the game centers around three morally bankrupt male protagonists, all trying to navigate the satirized, crime-filled, Los Santos — a fictionalized version of Los Angeles — by committing crimes such as grand theft auto. Get it?

On the surface, this synopsis is ripe for criticism, but playing the game reveals the very satirical undertones that target American culture. One can easily pick apart any single element from what is presented, and manipulate it into something that appears critical.

From social media to immigration, nearly all facets of American life are satirized to an insanely obscene and hilarious point.

To combat their overcompensating masculinity and midlife crises, these characters work together to steal, fight and kill anyone that stands in their way.

One mission has you infiltrating the offices of “LifeInvader,” the game’s version of Facebook, to plant a “new” version of a smartphone that eventually explodes and blows off the head of a hybrid CEO — with the likeness of Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs — while presenting it during a press conference.

Now that doesn't sound like anything that happens in reality, right? A big, flashy, conference advertising smartphones that blow people’s minds away?

Another mission has you helping a pair of bumbling border patrol officers rounding up a bunch of American citizens, who appear to be immigrants because they are Latino. Ironically, one of the officers is an immigrant himself who only speaks Russian.

This layer of commentary is overlooked by anyone who hasn’t given the game its due diligence.

Aside from the writhing social satire that developer Rockstar Games is known for, there is a slew of technical breakthroughs that set new precedents for open-world games.

Another impressive feature is the ability to switch between any of the three main characters at any moment, to explore the largest, most detailed city ever put into a video game.

These technical achievements allow for fun experiences and stand as a testament to the freedom given to players. It is that same freedom that reinforces detractors of the series.

Killing innocent innocent people in any capacity is possible, whether it be through the scope of a gun or behind the wheel of a car.

Yes, the game is great but simultaneously highly offensive; think something along the lines of “South Park."

Like the show, the game achieves social commentary at the expense of pushing people's buttons. One episode was so hotly debated, it was highly censored and eventually pulled from broadcast.

For me, the freedom to do as you please is the best part. To choose for yourself what to do is what games are all about.

Likewise, the ability to criticize freely, to praise, or to condemn the game for its content rather than its hype is important in making well-informed judgments.

Life is full of violent video games, celebrity scandals and political corruption, but just because the game puts a stylized mirror against reality, it doesn't mean it actually is the garbage it is criticizing.

Don't judge a game by its cover. Open it up and earn the right to talk about it.