@ben_h: I'm not disagreeing with your criticisms except the claim that it was forgettable. Maybe Giant Bomb forgot it but I sure didn't! I was blown away by the graphics and I really enjoyed some of the heists. Was it bloated? Yes. Was the city kind of boring compared to Vice City or even Liberty City? Yes. Was the soundtrack a HUGE step back from the prior games? Yes. In fact I can't believe you didn't mention that. The soundtrack was very middling for a series that in some ways was MADE by its sound tracks.
But it was memorable because of the highs of the heists and how good it looked.
I can see both sides. I think at the time the 3-person switch thing was like the Nemesis system or pinning in multiplayer games, it's such a nice feature that changes the way you play enough to be novel. I also think with the leap in graphics you gotta pull back on some things so i get why say San Andreas looks to have more fun features to play with. I think for example, people call out glitches and lack of polish in a skyrim or fallout or whatever and question why it can't be as tight as say an outer worlds, but with big worlds and systems comes more duck tape holding it all together when it's also polished. A better example is people calling out limitations in horizon games vs breath of the wild. Something about keeping that high realism and fidelity makes it hard to say just add the ability to go teleport out a mountain, break components together, scatter them on the ground in any environment and have AI that picks up different lying around equipment etc. We give up the sandbox nature for fidelity and fidelity sells to a big crowd at say a e3 vs a sandbox which takes time to explain its merits (see some reactions to Zelda fusing mechanic originally, with some saying it's just simple and won't mean anything, or that its just Zelda DLC).
But yeah, GTA 5 sold most, but you could argue it's due to the online part (which is funny cause at release GB completely gave up on it lol and now It's so well liked, never give up people (game creators at least))
Also, I can see this community may not have been that impressed by just another open world even if it's to GTA's quality...still think GTA6 is cooking for so long they must have something big. They were way more angry than expected about a leak, that I think they're planning something huge, and they don't need to make the game, so it's like a gamble, as it takes away eyes on GTA5 which still sells. Much like Elden Ring reinvigorated souls likes, I think GTA can reinvigorate open world bloat games...Zelda did it, I assume almost any genre can get a touch up and blow minds. (except Battleroyal...seems too far gone).
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