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Trevor’s First Mission: The most uncomfortable I’ve ever been playing a video game


No, I’m not referring to Trevor’s “real” first mission at the very beginning of the game where him and Michael rob a bank. I’m talking about the first mission where you play as Trevor in the present day, about 8 hours into the story of GTA V. I will warn you that there is some massive early game spoilers in this post so stop reading right now if you want to avoid spoilers.

Still reading? Ok. Let me get to why Trevor’s first mission in GTA V made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t that I was killing waves of innocent people, GTA games have made me immune to feeling bad about killing countless NPCs. One big factor is that the game normally lets you decide whether you want to go on a rampage or not. This time it was telling me to wipe out an entire social click from the face of Los Santos. For no good reason either, other than to help Trevor’s meth business.

The Lost riders in this mission weren’t doing anything wrong and were minding their own business. I should be disgusted by this alone. For all intents and purposes this is the same thing as Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian” mission except it replaces the helpless civilians with motorcycle riding gun owners.

Johnny_Klebibtz

Sure, the Lost members aren’t as helpless as the people in “No Russian” but they weren’t prepared for a shootout and didn’t do anything to deserve it. This is par for the course on GTA though, so I was mostly okay with the awkward killing of countless Lost members. After all that is what GTA mostly is, traveling from place to place for different shootouts. What really disturbed me was the brutal murder of Johnny Klebitz from the GTA IV expansion, The Lost and the Damned.

Johnny Klebitz lead the Lost chapter in Liberty City and at some point in the past 5 in-game years he moved to Los Santos with some Lost members and his always-cheating girlfriend. Seeing that Johnny is still chasing after a girl who will never treat him right (nor is he a good match for her) is depressing enough but his murder at the hands of Trevor was shocking.

I liked Johnny. He was a bit of a whiner but I enjoyed the Lost and the Damned DLC. I can understand why he wasn’t the star of a mainline, numerical GTA game but he was a great character. I was invested into seeing how things played out for him. I did not want to see him get curb-stomped by a pathetic meth-head with a temper. During the whole cut scene I expected Johnny to get back up but of course he didn’t. His girlfriend is left crying at his side after realizing her infidelity somehow lead Johnny to an early grave.

You can't see it from this angle but Trevor is crushing Johnny's skull with repeated stomps.

You can’t see it from this angle but Trevor is crushing Johnny’s skull with repeated stomps.

Johnny was possessive and controlling, he had some bad stuff coming his way I’ll give you that. But I did not want to see him murdered as if he was an insignificant roach. I don’t know if Rockstar was trying to channel their inner Walking Dead or Game of Thrones by killing off such a big character quickly and harshly but I know that I didn’t like it. This scene reminded of a particular major character who is killed off in a very gruesome fashion in the 100th issue of The Walking Dead. I question whether it was necessary to establish the character of the murderer.

I understand that Trevor’s missions are being praised as the most fun overall in GTA V. Of course this one moment in the game won’t make me stop playing it, it could the very best game of this generation. But I resent having to play as Trevor. How am I suppose to want to see him succeed after something like this? How should I feel as the player who is helping him achieve his goals all the while waiting for him to get killed? Even as I begin to see more of his charm and like little things he does, I continue to hope for him to finally get what’s coming to him as I haven’t read any end-game spoilers yet thankfully. I would like to point out that if Rockstar was trying to foreshadow an eventual Trevor heel turn (I swear I haven’t read any end game spoilers!) that killing Johnny like this hints at that way too strongly if that does indeed happen.

Just because this moment made me uncomfortable doesn’t make it bad necessarily. Rockstar was trying to get some deep emotions out of their players and they did just that. I just don’t know if it served its purpose well. I think killing a random member of the Lost in front of Johnny would have worked just as well in establishing Trevor as a mad-man with a short fuse. Why did it have to be Johnny? Does his disgusting execution add something to the overall story? I haven’t finished the game so perhaps I will have my answer shortly but I will say that if there is a payoff for Johnny Klebitz’s murder in GTA V it will have to be pretty good.

Rockstar did a lot of things right with GTA V. Among others, they may have crafted the first video game protagonist that I truly want to see bad things happen to. The first playable main character who I want to see on the receiving end of something brutal. Kudos Rockstar, you brought out a reaction in me that I didn’t expect going in. These are some complex feelings that video games don’t often provoke from players. Whether Johnny Klebitz was the right selection as Trevor’s big “ooh this guy is evil” victim or not remains to be seen. At the very least, Trevor is a legendary game character that will be talked about for a long time.

What do you think of Rockstar’s decision to off Johnny Klebitz so casually in GTA V? Let us know in the comments below.