Characters and improving storytelling
Something that I have noticed, not just in GTA, but in Rockstar Games in general, is the lack of compelling characters in their stories. All the main characters are weak minded, not the way they are written but in the most figurative sense possible.
I'm going to use GTA IV as my example to explain what I'm talking about.
Every character is going through some kind of downfall. Take a look at Faustin, a man struggling with his anger, or Elizabeta, a woman stuck in a man's world. In this sense, it seems like there are a tonne of mini-stories in one main story - the Irish family in the days of post-glory city rule compared to the Italian family on an unsteady rise.
I cannot think of one character in the game that I wanted to follow. There was not one character that I actually wanted to do missions for because it will benefit my character as a person. Niko was an outsider to all the people he worked for. Even his own cousin was just a dramatic knife to the story plot, used as a way to compell the character down a dark path. Why can't our main character ever make their own downfall?
Would Vice City Stories have even had any missions if it had not been for Lance? Victor Vance wanted to be good, just like Niko and even Carl. San Andreas would have been 1/3rd the size had Sweet not gone to jail.
I want a future main character that makes his (or hers) own downfall. Perhaps they choose to live a life of crime, which is a downfall in itself. Maybe they choose to follow some visionary of a gang leader, and need to do everything in their power to gain the respect of a person they idolize. There are so many possibilites. Take a look at the character of Dutch in Red Dead Redemption. A man who was once a visionary - a man with codes. Somebody that I would actually want to work for.
This makes so much more sense from a storytelling purpose. Niko didn't like his life of crime, he did it for the money. What would have made sense is Niko paying off Roman's debts slowly by working as a cab driver. What kind of game would that have been though?
Rockstar need to cut out the moralist overtones - they are melding stories of escaping a world that players actually want to play in.
The only promising part of GTA IV's story was the tracking down of Darko. Niko wanted to do everything in his power to find this man, and it was easily the most climatic moment when you come across the drug-riddled shell that Niko had given away his life for. That was drama, that was awesome.
Which brings me back again to my starting point; it seems every person had a problem, which is why we did missions for all these people, yet no reward comes at all. The Irish family and the Italian family that you both worked for, are at even lower points that they started at by the end of the game. No accomplishments were achieved.
I want my character to have a choice. When I say this, I do not mean the player, this isn't Fallout. Tommy had a choice on whether to take over Vice City; he did it because that's what he wanted.
Agree, disagree? I want to hear your comments.