So I have a pair of pliers and a good grip on a man’s healthy molar. He’s yelling and whimpering. My wife, having watched me hook the man up to a car battery earlier, is getting uncomfortable, so I tell her not to watch. In a series of deft maneuvers – with my off hand, no less – I rock the tooth out. It falls to the ground with a wet plop. He’s willing to talk now.

Yes, I’ve been playing GTA V. There is indeed a torture scene in the game, which also involves a wrench and a gasoline can filled with water. It’s satire, of course – the entire game is a satire of Californian/American civilization, with all its excesses and debauchery – and a lovingly detailed and fond-of-its-subject satire at that. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles are a joy to drive, the scenery is huge in scope, and the three characters you get to switch between at will – Michael, Franklin, and Trevor – are all interesting, funny, and nuanced studies in criminal behavior. Trevor, a unique homicidal maniac that I doubt anyone will be forgetting anytime soon, is especially twisted, embodying the lawless open-world spirit of the game in a way that no GTA protagonist has before. And it’s incredibly funny to use him to play golf on the game’s nine-hole course.

I read a review recently, the location of which I’ve now forgotten, that the plot of the game was a cross between Heat (Michael), Boyz in the Hood (Franklin), and Breaking Bad (Trevor). That’s a fair assessment. There are heists, drug deals, meth labs, crooked FBI agents, everything you’d expect. Hundreds of people, especially cops and security guards, are killed and the city barely blinks. But that’s how the GTA universe works. And it’s fun, despite H insisting that I obey traffic lights while driving.

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