For those who bemoan the fact that characters from the Grand Theft Auto III era have not and will not appear in Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, I present to you the fact that they have appeared and will appear—simply in different incarnations. Rockstar Games has once again presented to its fans the world it built during the Grand Theft Auto III era. Yes, there is a new engine. Yes, the graphics have improved. However, the stories? The stories are the same.
This is far from a complaint. I was lamenting the lack of a female protagonist when I realized why we were not provided with one. Adding a lead character of a different gender would be a deviation from the pattern previously set forth. Rockstar Games has done an astounding job of updating the stories we all once gravitated to for this new era. And technology has advanced enough that providing an old story in a new way makes the story itself seem novel as well.
However, we still have a hard, quiet man of action struggling to make sense of the big, Northeastern American city. Claude’s story is Niko’s story—that of a young newcomer wading through the refuse of Liberty City’s underworld. We see them both form friendships that cross cultures, discover rich patrons, and bounce back from the duplicitous actions of former tentative allies—all in all, the immigrant’s rise to riches, the outsider made good.
Grand Theft Auto V brings us newer versions of Tommy Vercetti and Carl Johnson. The names and decades have changed; however, the premise remains the same. C.J. and Franklin are both young black men living in Los Santos and engaged in small-time criminal activity. They will both likely provide a bridge connecting the worlds of inner-city poverty and wealthy celebrity. Finally, Tommy and Michael are both men who were deeply enmeshed in the world of organized crime and had to take drastic measures to sever ties. Both were successful and managed to benefit financially afterwards.
The characters even resemble each other physically to the point where fans questioned if they were actually seeing a return of the characters they once loved.
For the most part? They are.