There's just no way to overstate how much the video game world loves Grand Theft Auto. Despite falling in the crosshairs of every politician out to slam video games as encouraging mischief and violence, gamers have spoken with their wallets, making Grand Theft Auto 5 the fastest-selling billion-dollar game in history.
Occasionally, that kind of widespread acceptance and popularity can lead consumers to forgive more than a few shortcomings here and there. And in the case of GTA5 - all controversy aside - there are a few mechanics and design decisions that Rockstar Games seems to be too stubborn to address; shortcomings that would be downright unacceptable in other franchises.
Some are old, and others are new, but here is our list of the 5 Grand Theft Auto Gameplay Mechanics That Need To Go.
Stand on the Dot, Please
There was a time when requiring a player walk over a single spot to trigger content made sense. But in 2013, demanding that a player not return home to speak to his family members - but approach up the driveway and stand on a brightly lit halo of yellow light in front of the garage - is just absurd.
Nothing breaks an immersive experience like discovering that you didn't actually start a conversation with your friend by approaching him, all you did was hit your mark, and cue a cutscene. This mechanic has stuck with the series longer than it has any right to, but GTA 5 makes it even worse.
We'll give the developers credit for removing the yellow ring in particular places, but the inconsistency is even more confusing. Want to trigger a mission? Stand on the yellow dot... or walk in the front door... or approach a false storefront and let the cutscene take over. Frankly, we'd prefer this glaring, 'arcade-y' gimmick be put to rest.
Humans, or Tanks?
If there's one thing that fans and critics of the GTA series have apparently accepted as par for the course, it's Rockstar's unique understanding of how human beings operates. Realistic animation isn't easy, and the team has continued to outdo themselves. But controlling the stars of the game: that's where Rockstar epitomizes stubbornness.
In the midst of combat, players might actually think they're operating a form of Soviet-era tank disguised as a human being. Slow reaction times, imprecise jumps, and overall, a total lack of realism makes GTA pale in comparison to other top-tier third-person games in this respect.
Forget the subtlety of animation or added maneuverability seen in The Last of Us, Assassin's Creed - hell, even Lost Planet 3 - Grand Theft Auto's leads may be menacing, but they're always laughable (and downright clumsy) from a control perspective.
The World Hates You
Tell us if this ever happens to you: you're taking a stroll along the boardwalk when a good-looking individual catches your eye. So you sidle up for a chat... and they scream at the top of their lungs, run for their lives, and call the police? It hasn't happened to us either, but in the world of GTA, it's the norm.
While other games attempting to simulate living worlds add spoken lines of small talk, one-liners or flirting when a player approaches an NPC, Rockstar has made it clear for years now: prostitutes and strippers will want to talk to you - everyone else simply fears for their lives.
With every week bringing a new case of police using excessive force or using stun guns on the elderly, maybe Rockstar's offering commentary. But when simulating a real city is your claim, a police officer who attacks you for standing next to him on the street (and sends SWAT when you defend yourself) is massively disappointing.
Tap 'A' To Sprint (And Then Keep Tapping)
How could we not point out the most mind-bogglingly stupid game mechanic that Rockstar still refuses to address (in more of their franchises than just GTA!). Yes, we speak of course of the inexplicable need to tap the 'Run' button, non-stop, to make your character move as fast as they can.
Aside from the fact that it's actively annoying and irritating (not just for the one playing, but any who happen to be within earshot), the decision is just bad game design. It's hard to even name another series that still employs the tactic as a core element of gameplay. A few seconds here and there, sure; but now that game designers aren't trying to suck quarters out of arcade patrons, this mechanic is pretty insulting.
In this day and age, a studio showing so much contempt for their players that they would make them tap a button constantly just to get back to the fun part can only be due to stubbornness, or a lack of attention.
Does This Even Qualify as a Shooter?
The control and precision of Grand Theft Auto's combat encounters have always been a criticized portion of the series - not based on difficulty, but the fact that experienced shooter fans aren't given the tools or systems to put their skills to use.
First off, GTA 5 deserves some credit for introducing a weapon wheel and cover mechanic that help to alleviate much of that frustration. But the 'Whack-A-Mole,' 'State Fair Shooting Gallery' auto-targeting removes every ounce of frustration entirely; even the good kind.
The immediate snap-to shooting is a welcome feature for those who don't necessarily enjoy shooting, and a clever way of erasing all criticism. But that seems like an easy solution to a complicated problem; acceptable on an 'Easy' difficulty, but turn off the aiming assists, and it's right back into the same old problems.
Those are only a few nagging issues and mechanical shortcomings that we find irritating about an otherwise fantastic open world game. Do you share the frustration over any of our points? Or do you have some of your own to add to the list?
Be sure to name them in the comments, and as always, try not to keep them from hindering too much of your enjoyment (with GTA 5, we don't think that will be an issue).
Grand Theft Auto V is available for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.