Drugs. Pimping. Vehicular manslaughter. Grand Theft Auto has been pushing the boundaries of appropriateness (and parental tolerance) for more than a decade. In its first two iterations it was a relatively simple gang drama. Then in 2001 the third version of the game set a new bar for mayhem. Sure, other games displayed violent tendencies, but Grand Theft Auto III allowed players to join gangs, deal drugs, run over pedestrians, solicit prostitutes (then kill them), and assassinate rival gang members (or anyone else who got in the way). GTA III also featured an interactive world that players could explore at any time; you were no longer tied to the storyline the way you were in previous iterations of the game.
In 2013 Grand Theft Auto V debuted to high praise. Its first release sold more than 33 million copies and it went on to become one of the highest grossing video games of all time. So why did Rockstar Games decide to release a remastered version last month? If you saw it as a blatant attempt by an established franchise to cash in on the new Xbox One and PS4 gaming consoles, you’d be right. Except for one thing: You can now play GTA in first-person view.
Previous iterations of the game placed players in the backseat, at a small distance from the action. Now you’re no longer manipulating your crime junkie alter ego; you are the crime junkie. It’s undeniably impressive. When you’re skydiving you can plummet to the earth through your character’s eyes. When you’re rocketing down the hillsides on your mountain bike, dodging trees and foliage, you feel the exhilaration. But the developers at Rockstar aren’t dummies. They have to know that the most titillating element of the game is the prostitution.
Soliciting sex from prostitutes has been a constant component of GTA games, but in previous versions the camera angle would maintain a tasteful distance away to allow for a bit of privacy, or maybe more of slightly perverted voyeurism. But with the remastered edition of GTA V you can now experience virtual first-person sex. That’s right, GTA V allows you to pick up a hooker, pay her $50 for oral sex (or $100 for intercourse, which we’re told is below current market rates in Los Angeles), and watch her head bob up and down as she coos “It’s soooo big” and “I want to make you come.” Sorry, ladies, it only works if you’re playing as a dude. You can play as a female character, but all the prostitutes are women and they don’t modify their sex moves to account for the gender of their client.
Though this new element of the game is creepy and lurid, it’s definitely not porn. It’s not even that sexy. Once the prostitute of your choice is prompted, she climbs into the driver’s seat, slides onto your lap, and gyrates against you. You only see her neck and chest, so can watch as her clothed virtual breasts bounce up and down but everyone remains (mostly) clothed for the transaction, which lasts about a minute, and you won’t see any genitalia. (That’s how GTA V maintains its “M for Mature” rating, instead of claiming the Adult Only or AO rating.) If you want improvisation and sexual flair, you’re better off playing The Sims—or maybe sticking to real life. Ultimately, the sex in GTA V looks more like a timid adolescent’s idea of the act.
Whatever Rockstar Games couldn’t or wouldn’t show, it sounds like the company spared no expense when it came to the audio effects. The sounds of ridiculous sex talk (actual quote: “My clit is throbbing for you”), slurping, grunting, and the slapping of human flesh are far more graphic than the visuals, which is a smart move. While parents probably won’t condone nudity in a video game, the volume can always be muted. Trust us, you’ll want to use your mute button as the characters’ gasps and dirty talk reach a climax. The noises are cringeworthy and the moves are boring, but when you’re paying $100 for sex, what do you expect?