Back in December, the folks over at Game Informer blew the lid off of Grand Theft Auto V. Until then we had no idea that the game would have three primary protagonists, so this was revolutionary news. But now that the game's mechanics are starting to sink in, Rockstar has been focusing on the characters themselves, and, I must admit, Franklin and Trevor don't feel like primary characters. Sure, they'll share the gameplay, and I'm sure their backstories will be sufficiently flushed out, but the world of GTA V actually belongs to Michael.
I'll show you what I mean.
Aside from Michael, Trevor and Franklin, we've only been introduced to about six other people in the series: Amanda, Michael's wife; Jimmy, Michael's son; Tracey, Michael's daughter; Ron, Michael's next door neighbor; Chop, Franklin's Rottweiler; and Michael’s yet-to-be-named Therapist. So, out of the six peripheral characters that have been introduced, five of them are related to Michael and the last one is Franklin's dog.
So, aside from everyone Michael knows, Franklin’s dog is the most important character. It seems like the storyline might be a little Michael heavy.
Although, Franklin's trailer--the one that Rockstar released yesterday--actually does highlight several relationships, and we've seen him fighting with a wife/girlfriend in one of the previous trailers. But the fact that they're just faceless, peripheral characters at this point should clue us in on the importance of Franklin's role and the depth of his storyline.
GTA V's third protagonist, Trevor, is definitely on the bottom of the totem pole, but Rockstar has been pretty upfront about this. Trevor may be playable, but he plays the part of a supporting character, which is a good decision by Rockstar. He's much too volatile to be successful in a lead role, and needs someone like Michael to reign in his craziness so that the game doesn't deteriorate into mass confusion.
Even with what little information we know about Grand Theft Auto V, I think it's probably safe to assume that Michael plays the lead, but this isn't a bad thing. Michael is the glue that holds this crew, and the storyline, together. He might not be the most exciting character—that distinction probably belongs to Trevor—but he doesn't need to be. I'll let Dan Houser, Rockstar games’ V.P. of creativity, explain:
"One of the advantages of the three-character system is you can have characters who, if they were the only protagonist, would be far too flawed for you to find appealing. With other equally flawed protagonists, but flawed in different ways, I think it gets more understandable. His flaws are certainly his large ego, an inability to control his temper, and his willingness to make large moral compromises. To me, that's a very interesting character. A guy who's in his mid-40s and on the cusp of middle age who doesn't know what to do, but made a bunch of money and does not know what to do with it. He's theoretically won, but the spoils of victory aren't necessarily what he imagined. For us that's a very interesting character, unlike what we've done in the past or what we've seen in much entertainment in general, let alone any video games. That was interesting."
Trevor and Franklin strengthen Michael's character from a storytelling perspective. Without them, Michael would be a carbon copy of Tony Soprano, and that's something we can all do without.
Date: May 1, 2013